I began my La Trobe journey, in 1972, thanks to Gough Whitlam.
I arrived at the University from Coleraine in the far western district as a naïve 18-year-old. My first three years were spent in the Spanish department where I studied Spanish, Portuguese, and Linguistics. I will never forget the monthly Friday night parties and lunchtime comidas or the after-language-lab coffees in the Plaka with Jose Sangiau. These studies have left me an enduring legacy.
I was living in the Glenn College units while studying my Dip. Ed. when a lovely young lady (Linden Dean) moved into the room next to mine. Forty-five years later, we are still together and are the proud parents of two young men who are living in Melbourne. My wife came from East Gippsland and was also at university thanks to Gough. We became teachers: she primary, me secondary. After 10 years in Melbourne we moved to Bairnsdale. For two years I taught Spanish at Lakes Entrance Secondary College. I also taught Spanish at the local adult education centre. I taught Spanish at Maribyrnong High School (1978-1985), and English to refugees from South America. I was outraged when the students laughed at my Spanish accent and quickly adjusted to a South American version. I also improved my Spanish by chatting to the parents when they visited the school.
My wife studied Art History at La Trobe and has gone on to be an artist who has exhibited in Slovenia and New York. We went over for the opening of her exhibition. While waiting in the airport I met a Chilean family who were lost. They did not speak English so I used my Spanish to help them on their way.
In 1998, when I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and given 18 months to live, I had a stem cell transplant which kept me alive so that I could travel to every Spanish and Portuguese speaking country. In retirement, we can travel more. This would not be possible without a good education which led to our professional careers.
Muchas gracias Spanish department. Thanks La Trobe!