10 Banner Image IMG 9853Cristiana is originally from Brazil and has been in the world languages field for over twenty years. She holds a BA in Spanish and broadcast journalism from the University of Wisconsin and an MA in business journalism from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, where she was a New York Times fellow.

Cristiana has taught a wide range of students from elementary schools to universities, including the Chazen Institute for Global Business at Columbia University in NYC and the University of San Francisco. In her journalism career, Cristiana worked for several years for the New York City bureau of CNN as part of the team for news programs including Anderson Cooper 360, American Morning, and CNNMoney.

When she’s not at Nueva, you will likely find her in the company of her husband and two young sons — in the kitchen making their own brick-oven pizza, outside building clay volcanos, or anywhere in the world their globe-trotting life takes them. 

1. You have had experience teaching students ranging in age from elementary school through college. What is a commonality that you have observed in your most engaged and present learners?

Curiosity. Curiosity brings excitement into the picture and makes it possible to endure the parts of the process you do not much care for. My job as a teacher is to foster students’ desire to learn and know new things. It is great because it is kind of a virtuous circle — the more they show their eagerness to learn, the more you want to be a part of their learning. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

2. Reflecting on your CNN experience, what are some of the lessons related to teamwork, collaboration, and storytelling that you carry into the classroom and your work as an educator?  

I was very fortunate to have worked under the mentorship of some of the best journalists around. I learned how valuable it is on a team both to have a mentor and to be one. I have never believed that you can fully learn how to be a journalist in school. Journalism is still one of those trades that you learn through doing, and you grow through apprenticeship.

As a journalist, and as a teacher, you need to be a good listener and ask tough questions. You need to know when to push and when to back off. You need to be supportive and recognize potential in a colleague or a student that he or she does not yet see. You need to watch your judgmental attitude.

In terms of storytelling, I try to never forget the advice I got from one of my J School professors: “Write for the ear, shoot for the eye, aim for the heart.” It never fails.

3. Recognizing that you speak several languages and have lived and traveled to many places, have you come across a word that we do not have in English?  If so, what is the word and what is its closest meaning?

Yes, the Brazilian Portuguese word "saudade."

Saudade is a Portuguese expression that is almost untranslatable. The best way to describe it is: the presence of absence. It is a longing for someone or something that you remember fondly but know you can never experience again.

It is not nostalgia, where you reminisce about happy and sad emotions. Nostalgia expresses a sensation one has for a loved one who has died, while saudade is the knowledge that Papa is absent from my life.

4. In your current role as a Spanish teacher at Nueva, what do you want your students to understand about the power of language or, perhaps, the purpose or process of studying a foreign language?

A bumper sticker I saw once says it all about the importance of learning at least one foreign language: “Learn another language, because life does not come with subtitles.”

In terms of the process of learning a language — I have looked into this issue very much, because I am not just a language teacher — I have also learned a few foreign languages myself.

One question I get a lot from students and parents is “What is the most efficient way to quickly learn new words?” I think the best way to learn and retain new vocabulary is by learning them in context.

We know that the human brain works best when it can make connections. Learning words out of context is extremely frustrating. It really doesn’t take you anywhere. You will often forget them just as quickly.

To learn new words you need to see them in context. Hear them in context. Read them in context.

5. Having studied, lived, and worked in New York City, and, understanding that your family built a brick oven for pizza, please describe your dream pie.

I am still perfecting my own pie (well, that’s an understatement), but my most favorite/best-ever/top-of-the-list-pie (or slice, actually) is still good old Joe’s Pizza, on Carmine Street.

If you go, here is how you do it: buy one plain slice ($2.75) and one pepperoni slice ($3.50). Douse them both in an obscene amount of powdered garlic and oregano and savor every bite. It is that old school NYC slice-type pizza that takes me back to being young, fearless, and broke in NYC. It is quintessential NYC.


December 6, 2017



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