Dr. Rebecca Janzen


Assistant professor of Spanish

Dr. Rebecca Janzen had heard about Bluffton's caring community while volunteering in 2007-08 with Serving and Learning Together (S.A.L.T.) at the Batahola Norte Cultural Center, a Catholic-affiliated community center in Managua, Nicaragua, that works with Mennonite Central Committee to help women and children.

The words of 2007 Bluffton alumna Emma Richer gave Janzen a feeling of confidence about the community, she says. And that feeling was validated early this semester after the new assistant professor of Spanish was injured in a fall.

The campus community organized to help care for Janzen during her recovery, providing meals—courtesy of her department—and company who stayed with her. "It takes a lot longer to build a community like that in a big city," says a grateful Janzen, who came to Bluffton from Toronto, Ontario.

"Bluffton was a chance for me to do more teaching in an institution that focuses on teaching, on students' academics and integrates a cross-cultural program," she adds about her move from Toronto, where she earned her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto.

Fluent in English, French and Spanish, and able to read Portuguese, Janzen equated learning foreign languages with opportunities to travel. As an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, she had studied in Cuba.

Last fall, while doing research for her dissertation, she volunteered in the Mexico City Quaker House's Refugee and Migrant Program, working with migrants and crime victims from other Spanish-speaking countries. And at her S.A.L.T. placement, she profiled students for a donor scholarship program.

Those experiences have made "what I learned in the classroom come alive because you get to see the language being used," says Janzen, whose academic interest is in religion and politics in Mexican literature.