NORFOLK, Va. — Paola Matos has been helping her Norfolk State volleyball teammates learn Spanish, encouraging them to order in her first language when they go to her favorite Puerto Rican restaurant.
In the offseason, she returns home to Puerto Rico, the teaching doesn't stop, only this time she's helping her parents learn English, her second language.
"I do actually teach them English, so they can learn when they go to my games," says Matos, who arrived in Norfolk knowing very little of the language she now passes on.
"They helped me a lot, I learned a lot. Everything was really new for me. Everything is so different. I learned a lot of English," Matos calls the transition one of the most difficult part of the move, "Speaking another language, I'm used to speaking Spanish because that's my first language. When I had to switch over that was very difficult."
Now the University where she's learned so much, is adding a bilingual element of their own. The Spartans Diversity and Inclusion Committee has partnered with the Office of Sports Information to launch a bilingual promotions initiative. The program's goal of creating inclusivity within the NSU campus will begin with promotional graphics in both English and Spanish for upcoming games.
"When it's gameday they put it in Spanish, I really like that because my family can understand what they're saying. It makes me feel very welcome and special, like they appreciate us," says Matos.