Wednesday Spotlight: Michael Ariail, Teaching Assitant

This week we’re checking in with Teaching Assistant Michael Ariail. Michael works with Dr. Paula Mellom on the Language and Culture Service-Learning program that runs from July 3rd-31st (deadline for application March 21st). He has had the unique opportunity to go on the trip as both a student and TA, and offers a special perspective. So without any further ado: The Thoughts of Michael Ariail written under the encouragement of Aurora Fonseca, because she thinks he is cool enough to be the UGACR Wednesday Spotlight.


Describe one of your favorite experiences you’ve had since you started working with the Language and Culture Service-Learning program.

The Language and Culture program coordinates and runs an English language camp for the kids at the upper and lower elementary schools in the San Luis valley around the UGACR campus. Every year we try and connect into the Costa Rican national curriculum in either science, social studies, or both if possible. Last year, we partnered with Marley (the water intern) to join in the efforts of testing the water quality of one of the rivers around the UGACR campus. Kids from the upper and lower schools learned about the importance of clean water and how what we do impacts the water quality. We used English to tie it all in with language. A little science, a little English, and a lot of playing in the river = fun.

What is your favorite thing about working with UGA?

My experience with UGA Costa Rica actually started as a student on the Language and Culture Service-Learning Program. Apparently, they just couldn’t get rid of me. On my first trip to CR, I stayed in a homestay with an amazing family that really took me in and made me part of their family. Every year, I stay with them, and it seems to pick up right where we left off the year before. Being able to reconnect with old faces and meeting new ones is one of my favorite parts of the Language and Culture program and UGACR in general.


In one sentence, what makes an effective leader?

An effective leader is someone that can support, encourage, and make those under him/her feel like their voice is heard, but make the tough decisions at the end of the day.

Do you have a motto or personal mantra?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

What are your favorite pastimes?

I have recently picked up playing the guitar. I would say that I play as well as Jimi Hendrix currently does.

What is something unique about you?

I held a baby toucan on my first visit to Costa Rica. It is in the top 3 most terrifying moments of my life. The toucan was mad. If you have never been around an angry toucan, you need to pray that it stays that way. I feared that my eyes would no longer be in their sockets in the end. It worked out ok. My eyes are still in the right spot.


What is your favorite movie and why?

Gladiator – The 5 Oscars speak for themselves.

How did you get into your field?

My undergrad was in Spanish and Foreign Language Education. I went on the Language and Culture Service Learning program with Dr. Paula Mellom, and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to go back with the program as a TA over the last few years. I took a year off while I was teaching high school Spanish. Currently, I am back at UGA in the Linguistics Master’s program, and I’m back with UGACR.

If you weren’t in this position, what would you be?

I would be teaching something. Spanish most likely, but anything would do.

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