Fulbright Scholar Builds Cultural Bridges Through Love of Language

Growing up in the tiny mountain town of Hayesville, N.C., the community library became Misty Morin’s refuge, and books became her window to the wider world.

Morin, a Martin Scholar, earned bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish from UNC Charlotte in May. She has been accepted into two master’s programs in linguistics and she eventually plans to earn a doctoral degree.

For now, though, the next destination in her life’s journey is Spain, where she will share her love of language through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, teaching English to students in La Rioja in the city of Logroño at the C.P.C. Santa María school from September until June 2020.

“Growing up, books were so important to me,” Morin says. “I read all the time. It’s really important to me that kids have this outlet and this opportunity to experience different parts of the world through literature. Reading about distant places and different cultures really opens your eyes. It’s a way to set your hopes higher and hope that you can one day be a part of that world.”

As the first person in her family to attend college, Morin has embraced  opportunities to step into that broader world.

Misty Morin in Spain on the beach
Misty Morin studied abroad in a semester-long Spanish language intensive program, leaving her eager to share her love of language and to learn more about other cultures.

A semester-long Spanish language intensive program melded her desire to experience the world first-hand with her interests in language acquisition. While in Spain, she taught English at a local elementary school once a week, working with the youngest students, who had limited knowledge of the English language. She was tasked with the creation of engaging activities that centered on the first steps of language acquisition.

When she returned to Charlotte, she worked with Freedom School Partners, a program focused on empowerment through literacy.

“During the summer we poured our hearts into the books we read together,” she writes in her Fulbright application. “Through literature and the activities I orchestrated that centered around it, my scholars gained exposure to perspectives of others in the world around them, the skills to empathize and show compassion in the face of adversity, and the ability to use these lessons to lessen the grief in the world.

Studying Spanish taught her how transformative it can be to master a language.

“Now a whole new world of literature and culture has become accessible to me whereas previously I lacked the freedom and understanding to enjoy it fully,” she writes. “Giving children the power of language, and consequently the stories enveloped by it, supplies them with knowledge that can radically redefine the way they think.”

While in Spain with her Fulbright, she plans to engage her students and their parents in active reading and writing through events at libraries or community centers. She will draw upon her own personal experiences with writing, which started in that small town library and her hometown school.

“Not only did I devour every piece of literature I could get my hands on, but I also began to tell stories of my own,” she writes. “My pen never stopped moving and creating. Writing essays, school play narrations, short stories, and poems, I could not keep up with the thoughts echoing in my mind. For the first time in my life, I felt as though people wanted to hear what I had to say.”

Morin was a member of the executive board of the University Honors Program, and a member of the English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta. She pursued departmental honors in Spanish, and was a member of the UNC Charlotte speech team.

Words: Lynn Roberson | Images: Courtesy of Misty Morin