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Bridging language instruction and community is a proven winner for Rosti Vana and Rosita Scerbo, PhD students at the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University who are also leaders in the Spanish Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi.
Vana, who studies Spanish linguistics, is president of the organization, and Scerbo, who studies Spanish literature and culture, is vice president. Together, they led their members to win Sigma Delta Pi's 6th annual Best Practices Award after merging together the Spanish Club and the Honor Society to create a space for students to practice and promote the Spanish language and culture. The recognition is incredibly prestigious and competitive — only four out of 594 chapters (368 of these are considered active) in the U.S. actually win it.
“This is the first time that our chapter has been recognized for something big,” Vana said.
What started with Cynthia Tompkins, a Spanish professor and faculty adviser to the society, urging Vana to apply turned into a whirlwind when he was asked to visit Spain this summer to represent the School of International Letters and Cultures as well as the Sigma Delta Pi chapter.
“I think that’s the best part about going. I’m able to interact and network ASU,” he said.
The society is open to both undergraduates and graduates, and prides itself in creating a club for everybody. Schedules are sent out to teacher’s assistants who let students know they can come practice their language skills. Vana and Scerbo said it’s usually students helping students. There are about 10 to 15 members in the club, all of whom are majors in Spanish — the only requirement to join.
“I really like working with students because they become more comfortable since it is a friendly environment. ... They won’t feel judged or evaluated; they’ll be able to practice Spanish in an natural way,” Scerbo said.
Vana and Scerbo will be returning to ASU in fall 2018, continuing to provide Spanish scholars a space to practice their language skills and the opportunity to join Sigma Delta Pi.