RLL Alum Chloe Halprin Builds Strong Foundation of Spanish Language Skills and Work Experience Toward Social Justice-Focused Career
Throughout her time as a U-M student, and now as an alum, Chloe Halprin (B.A. ‘22) has sought out opportunities to connect with people and organizations which share a common interest in making a positive impact in the world. Additionally, within many of the same spaces, Chloe continually seeks out ways to further develop and utilize her Spanish language skills.
A double major in Spanish and English with a minor in Law, Justice, and Social Change, Chloe began her RLL coursework with Spanish 232: Museo de la Región Andina, taught by Tatiana Calixto, Lecturer II of Spanish.
“I loved my first Spanish course at Michigan,” she said. “It was a special topics course about the Andean region in South America. It was my first Spanish course in which I was much more focused on culture and the people speaking Spanish. I love languages and I think it is fascinating how culture is embedded in language.”
Chloe’s interest in Spanish led her to complete a wide variety of Spanish courses in RLL for her Spanish major requirements, including Associate Professor Gavin Arnall’s Spanish 437: Philosophies of Translation: Latin American Literature, Theory, and Film course.
“I think the class that is going to stick with me in the long run is Spanish 437,” Chloe said. “It’s not a class about how to translate, it’s not about the mechanics of it, but really the philosophy of how to translate, how to think about translation. It ended up being a very transformative class; just how I view language and the act of translation. It was a really interesting class.”
As a student, Chloe was a part of the Global Scholars Program, a living-learning community in North Quad, her sophomore through senior years.
“Everyone on your floor is in this community, which is cool, because you get to know people who have similar interests in intercultural exchange and what is going on in the world,” Chloe remarked. “And then for the learning component, there’s an Applied Liberal Arts (ALA) class you take every semester, and you get to do kind of a group internship with a nonprofit.”
“I feel like I grew a lot with the program, becoming more socially aware, more aware of my own identities and how they fit in the world at large,” she said. “I’ve made my best friends in the program, it brings a great group of people together. There are lots of opportunities to have deep conversations.”
Since her sophomore year, Chloe also has been working at U-M’s Language Resource Center (LRC) as a Media Assistant in the reservations office. She said her responsibilities include digitizing films for classroom use and cataloging new materials for the LRC’s collection.
“It is cool to be in an environment where people are speaking different languages or have different backgrounds, and it’s fun because I catalog materials, so there will be books and DVDs in all different languages,” she said.
One resource which Chloe found invaluable to her own study of Spanish was the LRC’s Language Conversation Partner Database.
“It connects students and community members with others who know the language you’re looking to practice, or with people who want to learn the language you know,” she remarked. “My sophomore year, I reached out to someone from Mexico, and she’s still my friend, and we talk every week. That has probably been what has helped improve my Spanish the most. We usually talk once a week, speaking Spanish one week and English the next. It is cool to be able to practice with a native speaker with vocabulary outside the classroom, and it helped me get over my own nerves about speaking Spanish.”
The summer after her junior year, Chloe completed a two-month human rights-focused internship, in a virtual format.
“I worked with an office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR),” she said. ”They have offices all over the world, mostly focusing on regional refugee crises, so the office I worked with is based in Cusco, Peru and they mainly have worked with Venezuelan refugees.”
“One of the main things I did was basic internet research and compiling info guides for the caseworkers so they could know local resources and nonprofits, specifically for working with refugees with disabilities and refugees who are survivors of sexual violence,” she said.
Now, post-graduation, Chloe’s next step will be working as a Teaching Assistant in the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program (NALCAP) in northwestern Spain, for the upcoming academic year. She will be assisting with teaching English to students 12-18 years old, in the town of Culleredo, in Galicia.
“I’m hoping that experience working with kids will help inform my [future] work either with migrant children or on a more policy level,” Chloe remarked.
She also noted she is “looking forward to the immersion” when in Spain, as she didn’t get a chance to study abroad during her time at U-M due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“Study abroad was kind of the biggest thing I was looking forward to in college, and I know a lot of people in my year missed out on that,” she said.
In the future, Chloe said she has in mind “two potential paths that maybe will intertwine. I am interested in philanthropy, possibly working in the foundation world; and I am interested in working with immigrants in the U.S. I will probably go back to school, but I want to work a little bit before deciding.”
For current students seeking to strengthen their Spanish skills, Chloe offers some advice from her experiences.
“Put in the work outside of class, if you have the time and flexibility,” she noted. “ If you really want to improve your language skills, do something like finding a language partner, and at the LRC, we have a ton of books in Spanish. I think that’s how I’ve improved most; the two together: in-class instruction time and also doing things on my own.”
“You’re not going to improve if you wait until one day you know everything because that’s not actually how you get better at it,” Chloe said.
Additionally, Chloe emphatically recommends that students attend office hours for their classes.
“I always say ‘go to office hours!’ I can’t say that enough!” she exclaimed. “I always recommend going to office hours in the first or second week of classes, and just introducing yourself, because if you’re struggling later on, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for help; you might need a letter of recommendation one day and it is good to have connections; but also I think going to office hours is a great place to get to know what faculty are doing, to ask any questions, and potentially get involved in something they’re doing, you never know.”