Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerent?

My mom just emailed to tell me that my eighth grade Spanish teacher died of cancer. I haven't seen her in years — I've always kept in much closer touch with my high school Spanish teacher — but the news makes me really sad. She was a strict but fair profesora, a tough grader, eccentric like just about every foreign language teacher I've met. It's thanks in part to her that the aforementioned group of very strange individuals includes me.

This teacher was one of the first two people I ever told that I wanted to major in Spanish in college. (That conversation took place when I was still in junior high school, and I'd only begun to study the language in seventh grade.)

When I heard that she had died, one of the first things that came to my mind was the question ubi sunt, a topic I first encountered in Medieval Spanish Literature courses in grad school. "Where are those who came before us?" I think that coming to mind was nicely appropriate, seeing as she helped set me on the road that led to studying Spanish at this level and now teaching it. She's one who came before me and my generation of Spanish teachers.