Introducing Maria del Pilar Garcia (Episode 20)

“[My grandmother] used to tell me a lot, ‘You’re not going to stay here. You’re going to go away. You’re going to grow as an important person. You’re going to make a difference for women. And you’re going to bring a big message to others.’ And that’s what I have been doing. I’m writing my books on her name because this is her passion. So I think I’m making her dream come true.”

In Episode 20, Maria applies her personal history to her current work and life-goals at a level of awareness, focus, and intensity that is inspiring to hear. Moreover, she believes each person has the power in them to tap into their personal story to achieve their own dreams and to life up and support those of others.

I found myself thinking of my father at 15, sent off to America by a frightened mother in war-torn Yugoslavia… of his uncle, meeting him at the dock and taking him in… about my dad’s struggle to learn a new language and new culture… and about how those experiences formed my father’s identity, made my dad more welcoming and compassionate toward others, and ignited his dreams for me, his daughter.

Think on your own biography as you listen to the podcast. What new language and culture — literal or figurative — have you had to face in your life? How has your life-journey formed your dreams? Whom else have you shared your dream with, whom else have you helped along the way?

Last by not least: please check out Maria’s non-profit Pillar of Dreams Foundation. Donate if you can, buy her books for yourself or for persons you know who need to grasp their own dream. Maybe you’d even like to volunteer with the Foundation; Maria would be very grateful to hear from you.

Maria del Pilar Garcia’s Bio

Maria del Pilar Garcia is a nationally recognized educator of Spanish and LOTE classes with the Board of Education in New York City, and in conjunction with St. John’s University, through its College Advantage Program. Throughout 22 years as an educator, Mrs. Garcia has been guiding students through their journey of learning the Spanish Language and Culture. She has done this by promoting and creating different approaches to motivate students to learn Spanish and other Romance languages. Mrs. Garcia also advocates for the reinforcement of cultural values and practices to her students. 

Helping and motivating those in need is something that sits at the core of Mrs. Garcia’s philosophy as an educator. It is because of this principle that Mrs. Garcia organizes trips to local children’s hospitals and libraries with students from the Hispanic Club and Hispanic Honor Society of Bayside High School. 

Mrs. Garcia’s passion and approach result in a unique experience for her students to truly embrace not just another language and culture, but to fully immerse themselves into becoming model citizens. This approach and her success as an educator have prompted Mrs. Garcia to receive national awards and recognition. At the completion of her first degree in Secondary Education, Maria del Pilar Garcia was named the “Speaker” of the Secondary Education Master’s Degree Class of 2002 at Queens College. Throughout her career since then, that same diligence and passionate approach have warranted Mrs. Garcia to receive notable and prestigious awards from the New York Board of Education (BOE) and the American Association for Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).

In 2013, Maria del Pilar Garcia garnished the title as “Most Outstanding Teacher” at the high school level with the New York City BOE. In 2014, for the first time in 100+ years of the AATSP’s Education’s existence, Mrs. Garcia was the first Hispanic teacher to win the nationally recognized award of “Teacher of the Year” of all the United States. Most recently in 2017, Mrs. Garcia published her first book, Journey to a Dream. The proceeds of the book fund philanthropic initiatives and operations to help underprivileged children in Colombia through an organization that Mrs. Garcia co-founded known as Pillar of Dreams. 

Resources

Pillar of Dreams Foundation: https://www.pillarofdreams.org/

For the books (Amazon): 

  • Caminemos el sueño “Study Guide” (for teachers)

To learn more about previous guests on It’s About Language or access other episodes of the podcast, visit It’s About Language or click on the Podcast tab above.

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