Tu vecino – Juan Antonio Alonso

Our Chattanooga area is home to many awesome Spanish-speakers. In our Tu vecino blog, we highlight some of our incredible Spanish-speaking neighbors!

Today, we are highlighting Juan Antonio Alonso, a professor at Chattanooga State Community College. In this blog, learn more about his work as a professor and advocate for Latino cultures and identities.

¿Quién es? Who is he?

Juan Antonio was born in Northern Spain! Even though his family spoke Spanish at home, he grew up surrounded by multiple languages. He lived close to France, and also learned Basque. Then, he moved to Southern Spain at age 12, and it was weird for him to be around monolingual people. Since he was young, he has always been interested in other languages. Now, it has become a career for him; to help others learn a new language.

¿Qué hace? What does he do?

As a professor at Chattanooga State, Juan Antonio teaches classes about Latino Cultures in the U.S., and Spanish, among others. A few years into being at Chattanooga State, Juan Antonio and his colleague, Nicolas Mansito, created the Latino American Student Organization (LASO). LASO’s mission is to train Latino leaders, promote Latino culture to all students at Chattanooga State, and provide a forum for all Latino students on their campus. The group is run by students. As a group, they meet monthly to plan their various events and initiatives. Every year, they put on an event called Mi experiencia. During this event, they get Latino students to speak about their experiences as Latinos. Juan Antonio enjoys this event because students share with other students about their own experiences.

Their first LASO meeting of the semester is at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 in the Humanities building on campus. You can join the Facebook group to get involved.

¿Cuáles son sus metas profesionales? What are her professional goals?

Juan Antonio is passionate about providing people who have little to no experience or connection with Latino cultures with more accurate information. There are many people in the U.S., and often times people who are decision makers in society, who have not had a meaningful interaction with Latinos. As a result, there are people who have a poor understanding of the length and depth of Latino contributions in the U.S. He hopes to be able to shed light on that. If people have a positive opinion of speakers of Spanish, then they are more likely to want to learn the language.

I enjoyed getting to know Juan Antonio better and hearing about all the great things he does at Chattanooga State and in our city!

Click here to learn about another Chattanooga vecino, Alondra.

Language South aims to create an engaging and supportive community that inspires and develops lifelong learners and lovers of languages and cultures. Click here to learn more about El Pueblo, our summer Spanish Camp for kids and teens!