SALA Testimonials


Learning about different cultures and languages has been a primary hobby for Daniel since he was young. He spends much of his free time watching and listening to movies, shows and other multimedia in other languages. Already fluent in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, Daniel was drawn to the program’s informal, immersive structure.

He is amazed by how much his Japanese improved as a result of the three-week course.

“At first, I was nervous about making mistakes but very quickly realized that everyone is here to learn and have a good time and support one another,” he said. “I have been shocked by my own ability and I’ve gained so much confidence.”

At age 22, Daniel is well on his way toward achieving his goal to be fluent in eight languages and to ultimately run his own language interpretation/translation business.

“I’ve never met anyone who has regretted learning a new language,” he said. “It’s such an enriching human experience.”


Daniel Rodriguez
UTSA student, Modern Languages

2022 SALA Summer I Program - Japanese

Motivation to be part of SALA:
On a quest to be fluent in eight languages!


Folayemi Oyeleye
UTSA student, Global Affairs: East Asian Studies and Korean

2022 SALA Summer I Program - Korean

Motivation to be part of SALA:
Improve her Korean language skills in anticipation of a summer UTSA-led study abroad program to Korea


Folayemi has been interested in Korean dramas and music for nearly a decade and just loves Asian culture wants to know as much as she can about that part of the world. Her career goal is to be an international attorney and work for the United Nations or as a U.S. diplomat in Korea.

Folayemi was thrilled to learn about SALA and the three-week program in May couldn’t have been offered at a more perfect time. After taking a Korean language class during the spring semester, she’s scheduled to study abroad for the first time this summer as part of a UTSA-led program to South Korea. The SALA experience allowed her to continue to advance her Korean language skills and even get to know some of the other students who she’d be traveling with in the study abroad program.

“Knowing more languages and cultures opens up my perspective on the world and helps me understand people better. When you remove the language barrier, you can learn so much more about a person and their culture…you can even learn more about yourself. Broadening our world view allows us to be more compassionate and it makes this big world feel more like one big community.”


Tomiko is a Veteran who retired from the U.S. Army. Born into a military family, Tomiko learned Japanese informally at home and then formally at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received her Bachelor of Arts with a minor in Japanese, and then also at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA, where she discovered her propensity for learning new languages. Specializing in human resources, Tomiko was stationed in South Korea for two years before becoming a Northeast Asia Foreign Area Officer for Japan/Korea. She loved her time there and would love to work in Korea again after she finishes her cybersecurity degree.

“I love this program. At first, I was intimidated and nearly switched to the Japanese class because there was a lot of reading and writing in Korean but the instructors encouraged me to stay in the Korean section and now I love it. I have been so impressed with the classes, the professors and students, the trips, the experiences and all the special little details that make SALA unique. I plan to take a Korean course at UTSA next semester and then my goal is to enroll in SALA next summer and try to get into the intermediate or advanced Korean class.”


Tomiko Ballard
UTSA student, Cyber Security

2022 SALA Summer I Program - Korean

Motivation to be part of SALA:
Improve her Korean so she can work abroad for the U.S. Government or for a company in either Korea or Japan


Devante Robinson-Woods
UTSA student, Psychology

2022 SALA Summer I Program - Spanish

Motivation to be part of SALA:
Simply put, he has a hunger to learn Spanish


Learning Spanish is one of Devante’s passions. Despite taking Spanish classes in high school and in college, it’s been tough to keep it up since he’s not surrounded by Spanish speakers in his daily life. He was excited to learn that being part of SALA would allow him to speak, read and write six hours a day for three weeks. But when the program was over for the day, he didn’t stop learning. Devante went home and used Rosetta Stone and watched telenovelas in the evenings and on the weekends to continue to make progress. As a result, SALA’s Spanish instructors have specifically noted his dramatic improvement.

“It has been such a great experience challenging myself to improve my Spanish skills and to meet other people with the same interest. Another great thing about SALA is that we’re not just focusing on our language skills, we’re learning about and experiencing different cultural aspects of Spanish-speaking countries. For example, we were able to get a guided tour of the exhibits at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico and it was really neat to see the pottery and artwork and learn about the artists.”

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