The Only Gringa in the Room: Working Bilingually at the OAS

The Hispanic Studies department continued their Career Seminar Series by presenting “The Only Gringa in the Room: Working Bilingually at the OAS.” Julie King, a 2013 College of Charleston Alumni, double majored in Latin American Studies and Caribbean Studies and Spanish.

Photo by: Judith Arendall

At the seminar, King discussed her experience at the College and how it impacted her life. She participated in La Casa Hispana three out of four years that she attended the College. It was a very immersive experience by living and speaking the Spanish language with fellow major and minor students.

The Spanish Club, Tertulia, was almost like a Spanish social cocktail hour that helped build authentic Spanish conversation between professors and students.

Sigma Delta Pi, the largest foreign language honor society in the United States, was an organization that helped promote and prove commitment to the Spanish language, culture and


King also became a Peer Facilitator at the College. She not only participated in the learning of her program, but the teaching of it as well.

She continued on to get her M.A. in Spanish Translation and Latin American Studies at the American University in 2015.  

Photo by: Judith Arendall

King is the perfect example of what it means to fully involve yourself in the field of studies that interests you.

She took these experiences over into her postgraduate career as an intern for the Department of Justice. Everyone was on the edge of their seat while they listened to her story of sitting in on a trail for a Colombian Cartel Drug Dealer. King described him as a man who had committed these horrific and bloody crimes but held himself almost as a fluent businessman. The story got more interesting as she recounted her experience of being left to eat lunch with him– a criminal who had nothing to offer but the most delightful conversation.

As one can imagine, the internship turned out as a success for King. She moved on to be a Legal Assistant for a non-profit in New York City. Her second career consisted of working in an advertisement for LanguageWorks.

Photo by: Judith Arendall

The two jobs that King held all built up to the current job she resides in. King said that these jobs finally “came into play” and she packed up her things and moved to Washington D.C.

She works for the Organization of American States by fighting the war on drugs in a “very minimalist way.”

A job that holds such importance lead the audience to ask if she ever encountered any discriminatory obstacles on the job. She did admit that she was the only Gringa on her team; an obstacle that played into earning the trust from Latin American people. A fear that runs deep in Mexican communities that she could be a threat for deportation.

King has been nothing but successful in earning the trust of all communities. She has earned trust and faith from her former College of Charleston professors with her successful career and from the students who only strive to do what she has done.

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Judith Arendall, a Nashville native, is a Junior english major with a Writing, Rhetoric and Publication emphasis. In Judith’s free time, aside from writing for CisternYard, she interns at Blue Bicycle Books.

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