The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Professor to join the Peace Corps

Professor Jacqueline Wald, a Spanish lecturer of eight years, plans to leave SMU to join the Peace Corps for a two-year eco-tourism project in Central America. Her husband, attorney Michael Wald, a law practitioner for 31 years specializing in estate planning, contract and business law, will accompany her.

The pair will leave for Santiago, Panama, at the end of April to join 180 other volunteers. Wald says she has made arrangements with her colleagues to “take care of her students” for the remainder of the semester, especially with finals peeking around the corner from the time of her departure.

She says that the adjustment will not be difficult for the students since their current Spanish lab professors would be the ones to fill in for the lectures. She will also be available to contact by e-mail for questions, concerns and final reviews.

Professor Wald will teach English to prospective tour guides and train public school educators in enhanced teaching strategies. She admits that living in a Spanish-speaking country for two years could further advance her already fluent tongue and broaden her knowledge of the Latin culture.

Panama sits on an isthmus that connects North and South Americas, surrounded by deep blue water, with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Its tropical warm weather, cooled by tall Jacaranda trees, attracts tourists from across the globe. On the other end of the spectrum, “fine residential” communities rest in a mountain paradise near the ocean, where the breeze blows cooler, according to panamainfo.com.

Wald and her husband’s decision to surrender salaried careers, a cozy home and transportation to become full-time volunteers runs deeper than a craving for vacation.

“Living in such a consumer-based economy, we just want to give back something in life,” Wald said. “We’ve been so blessed.”

She hopes to boost socio-economical awareness of impoverished countries by embedding herself in the experience and returning to the United States to share it.

“It’s a shot of reality to go to another country for a couple of years and really see what it’s like not to be in such a conspicuous consumerism society,” she said.

Wald recalls a company she came across on the Internet that specializes in catering pet parties. She comments that it makes her “sick to see what people spend their money on when there are people in the world who have absolutely nothing.”

Wald said she chose to serve with the Peace Corps because of its long-standing credibility and dedication to promoting peace worldwide. Since its launch in 1960 by President John F. Kennedy at the University of Michigan, the organization has had a total of 190,000 volunteers and trainees to date, of whom 95 percent have at least an undergraduate degree. The Peace Corps has served 139 countries, with 74 currently being served.

After the two-year project, Wald says she and her husband have every intention to resume their lives here in Dallas.

“I would love to be able to return to SMU in the fall of 2010,” she said. “I anticipate a renewed excitement in teaching Spanish here, given my two-year immersion in Latin culture, and the deeper perspective I would be able to offer.”

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