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Matthew Powell

Name Matthew Powell

Graduation year 2015

Major Film and Media Production

Minor Spanish


What's your current job?

I am working as a video editor.

How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?

One of the aspects that I enjoy the most about working in a creative field is that you are required to have a broad cultural knowledge.  The more steeped you are in culture, the deeper a well of resources you can draw from.  And language is the best tool to access culture!  Knowing Spanish and French—which I also studied during my last year as an undergrad at ASU—makes my world a much wider place.

Did you study abroad? If so, can you speak about your experience?

The semester that I spent studying in Prague, Czech Republic instilled in me a desire to live in unfamiliar cultures.  I've always loved travel, but, after that experience, I don't know if I can be content with just being a tourist again.  I found it much more gratifying to live close to the culture and get to know the rhythms of daily life there.  Studying abroad was a fantastic opportunity to do just that.  Through that experience, I was brought into contact with people and places that are now quite important to me.

How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?

The connections I made through ASU and SILC have already led me in unexpected and exciting directions.  Since graduating, I’ve been contributing audiovisual essays to an online Cervantes course that my former Spanish professor, Dr. Gil-Osle, is developing.  In these videos, I explore film adaptations of Don Quixote and examine how the work has been interpreted across mediums and across cultures.  This project has allowed me to combine my skills as a video editor with a cultural sensitivity and analytical eye that I developed while at ASU.

Also, I just moved to Montreal, which is a bilingual city.  My chances at success here are so much higher because I picked up French at ASU and have been studying it on my own ever since.  I aim to eventually live in a Spanish-speaking culture, too.  

What was your favorite thing about learning a language?

 Learning a language has let me experience the world with renewed freshness and intensity.  Ordinary objects are restored to me in all their strangeness when I have to stop and think about what they are called.  Conversations require my full attention, and just understanding a joke can be enough to make it funny.  Even after becoming quite comfortable in another language, small and surprising pleasures like these are a frequent occurrence.   

 Any advice for current language studies students?

Don’t get hung up on trying to communicate perfectly in another language.  Instead of imagining how you would communicate something in your native language, just work from what you know of the foreign language—whatever your skill level.  Language is a game with no winners or losers!