Written by Ellie Reiser & Mónica Ayala-Martínez
Here at Denison, our faculty have a wide range of lived experiences and perspectives. We’d love to highlight this by introducing our new series of International Faculty features!
Meet Mónica Ayala-Martínez! Dr. Ayala-Martínez is an associate professor in the Modern Languages Department. She earned a B.A. from the University Pontificia Bolivariana and a B.A. from the University de Antioquia. She earned her M.A. from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Miami.
“I am originally from Colombia. The transition to living in the U.S was very difficult. I came here as a graduate student and both the culture and the educational system felt foreign to me. I found myself in difficult situations without the appropriate knowledge to handle them. On the other hand, it was very enriching and eye-opening, and a major source of personal and professional growth.
I have done research in Colombia, Cuba and Brazil. Doing comparative work provides an amazing perspective to see the world and to see and interpret human behaviors. Identifying cultural differences and similarities, as well as understanding the particular historical backgrounds those cultures have, brings a whole set of perspectives and critical components to our world view. I have always come across humans in need of connections and humans struggling to see/approach/understand “others” who are different from them. It is fantastic to witness and experience moments in which bridges between people who “are different” can be built.
A lot of who I am and how I am has been shaped by the opportunities of traveling extensively, being out of my comfort zone, learning other languages… A lot of that informs my teaching, my understanding of students’ needs, wishes and attitudes, the content of my classes, the teaching strategies I use and my interest in working to provide a space that brings a sense of belonging to students in my classes.”