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News Travels Spring 2016 Home 2

Hearts in Motion

Dr. Rodríguez explaining the use of the Lucky Iron Fish to patients.
Dr. Rodríguez-Vivaldi explaining the use of the Lucky Iron Fish to patients.

The Hearts in Motion medical mission led by Drs. Ana Maria Rodríguez-Vivaldi (Spanish) and Kathy Beerman (Biology) during Spring Break 2016 was a huge success, with 29 students from WSU-Pullman, and one from WSU-Vancouver making up the team. The nonprofit organization Hearts in Motion (HIM) partners with a volunteer medical team and WSU students to provide medical care to people living in rural, underserved, and impoverished regions of Guatemala. Accompanied by Drs. Rodriguez-Vivaldi and Beerman, WSU students participate in this 10-day medical mission.  Students proficient in Spanish serve as medical translators, while others (after receiving training) perform basic health assessments (weight, height, blood pressure, heart rates, and non-invasive blood sampling).

 Philip Behrend, a spanish major, during one of the project’s testing days at Pueblo Modelo.
Philip Behrend, a spanish major, during one of the project’s testing days at Pueblo Modelo.

This year, we conducted a new, University-approved research project through the medical missions in several remote villages in the Zacapa region of Guatemala, as part of a collaborative effort between WSU, the University of Guelph, and HIM. Using point-of-care instrumentation (miniaturized devices for medical testing) we assessed iron status of children and women of childbearing years. Not surprisingly, iron deficiency anemia was most prevalent (54% of almost 500 people tested).

Because iron supplementation is not a realistic, long-term solution in populations where both access and cost are significant barriers, a new innovation called Lucky Iron Fish was given to families where one or more family members were iron deficient. Lucky Iron Fish have the potential to provide an entire family with up to 75% of their daily iron intake for up to 5 years. This easy, inexpensive, and effective alternative to iron supplementation involves iron-enrichment of the cooking water that is used to prepare the family meal. As the ingredients absorb the iron-rich water, the overall iron content of the meal is enhanced. We will go back next year to re-test these individuals and assess the success of this little fish! Many of our students participating in this research project will be included as collaborators in upcoming publications.

Faculty and Grad Student Activites

Maria Serenella Previto giving her session.
Maria Serenella Previto giving her session at the Palouse Language and Culture Symposium.

On Saturday, April 16, six members of the Spanish section of the DFLC gave presentations at the Palouse Language and Culture Symposium held at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho. Spanish graduate students Erika Gallegos and Diana Díaz-Gómez presented “Developing Intercultural Competence by Stripping Away Stereotypes in FL Classrooms”. Instructor Sonia López-López and graduate student Edurne Betrán de Heredia Carmona presented “Using Culture to Engage, Inspire and Inform SLL Students.” Professors Maria Serenella Previto (Sere) and Vilma Navarro-Daniels delivered a practice-oriented session titled “When Reading, Listening, and Speaking Successfully Meet Culture”.

Congratulations to Dr. Navarro-Daniels for being awarded a Spring 2016 International Travel Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences! The college also will fund Dr. Navarro-Daniels’ proposal to develop the online version of Spanish 110 (Peninsular Spanish Film) [ARTS]. This course will be ready to be offered in Summer 2017. We are excited to see this class being developed!


Meet #GnomieHomie Hansell Torres! He is a senior from Límon, Costa Rica. He is double-majoring in Spanish and Political Science with a minor in Sociology.

Tomás and Hansel meet again.
Tomás and Hansell meet again.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
“If I could live anywhere in the world it would be Santiago, Chile. It sounds like a beautiful country with a rich culture and history.”

In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit of learning another language?
“Learning a new language makes you smarter! You get to learn the linguistics of another language, above that you get to learn about the culture.”

What are your plans after WSU?
“After graduation I will be an educator at the San Diego Zoo!”