Meet Our 2021-22 Language Teaching Assistants

Ibtissame Bourhnane ~ Arabic

Where  do you live?
Rabat, Morocco

What is your academic background?
I am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.  In my home institution in Morocco, I major in International Cooperation and Development and I minor in African Studies.  When I was in high school, I was a physics/chemistry major, but I decided to completely switch directions for my higher education.

What do you want people to know about your country?
Morocco is a beautiful country to visit and that has some very special natural characteristics that make it “THE” destination for you if you love hiking, sightseeing, and other outdoor activities. I feel like it has a combination of all beautiful sites. We have beautiful mountains for hikes, beaches, sand dunes, and deserts. People in Morocco are so nice and friendly too, so if you want to have a full conversation with an Arabic native speaker, I think you should book your ticket to Casablanca sometime soon.

In Morocco, we also speak Tamazight, which is the indigenous language of the country. It is very different from Arabic, and from my perspective, it is a little harder to master.
I believe that one of the best things about my culture is the food and the variety of spices we use in our dishes. A very famous Moroccan spice, Ras El-Hanout, is usually featured in most of our traditional dishes. So if you come to Morocco, you will fall in love with Moroccan cuisine right away.
Three fun facts about myself?

– I speak French fluently as my second language.
– I love cooking Moroccan food and cookies.
– I am definitely a dog person.

Alinah Hamed ~ Arabic

Where do you live?
St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

What is your academic background?
I am majoring in philosophy and double minoring in Arabic language and Middle East & North African Studies

What do you want people to know about your country?
I am from the USVI, which is an American territory.  On the island, we drive on the left side of the road instead of the right and we had our bicentennial a few years ago.  The US Virgin Islands used to be a Danish territory.

Three fun facts about me:

  • I like cats
  • I don’t like hummus
  • I love cooking


Tianle Wang ~ Chinese

Where do you live?
Nanjing, China; however, I have also lived in Suzhou and Jinan.  Outside of China, I have lived in Amherst, MA, and have recently moved to Meadville, Pennsylvania.

What is your academic background?
My higher education career began at Soochow University, where I majored in Teaching Chinese as a second language and earned my undergraduate degree.  I continue my education at Shandong University, earning my first M.A. degree in Comparative Literature.  Finally, in the summer of 2021, I earned my second M.A. degree through the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

What do you want people to know about your country?
China was once a prosperous empire in ancient times but is now known as a mysterious socialist country in the modern age.  When it comes to China, people may think of Alibaba and TikTok, or the beautiful natural scenery and delicious foods…and perhaps now COVID-19.  However, China is more than these contemporary issues, and I would love to introduce the other aspect of China, which is not “colonized” by the global context to you.  Furthermore, many Chinese concepts and moral codes are not translatable, and therefore the Chinese language is a pivotal tool that is needed to fully understand these “untranslatable” concepts and moral codes.

Three fun facts about me: 

  • I served as the teaching assistant for the advanced level of the language courses at UMass Amherst’s Chinese Department for two years.
  • I learned French and Italian but forgot them shortly after passing the TCF B2 and CILS A2 exams.
  • Although I am Chinese, I am not good at mathematics, do not know Kung Fu, and dislike eating dumplings.  However, I do like pandas:).


Emy Chevalier ~ French

Where do you live?
I am from Nantes, a beautiful city on the West Coast of France.

What is your academic background?
I have just graduated with a double joint degree in Law and Languages and next year I am starting a master’s degree in English in order to become an English teacher in France.

What do you want to see or learn about in the U.S.?
Even though France is mostly known for the beautiful city of Paris, France is a very diverse country in terms of cultures, dialect, accents, gastronomy, landscapes, etc.  Every aspect of France is beautiful and I can’t wait to share all of my love for French culture and French people with the students.

Three fun facts about me:

  • I love food!! Of course,  I am in love with French gastronomy but I also like to enjoy other countries’ gastronomy.
  • Traveling is one of my favorite things to do!  Discovering new places and new cultures.
  • I work as a lifeguard in France.


Nicole Recio Bremer ~ German

Where do you live?
Monterrey, Mexico

What is your academic background?
I am studying International Studies and Psychology

What do you want people to know about you?
German is my first language since my family is from Germany.

What are some fun facts about me?
I speak three languages fluently, my favorite food is sushi, and I love traveling and getting to know other cultures.

Elisa Weinand – German

Where do you live?
Lindlar, Germany.  The next big city is Cologne, which is a 30-minute drive away from my home.

What is your academic background?
I am a Junior Year of studying psychology at the University of Cologne.

What do you want people to know about your country?
Although Octoberfest might be the German festival that is most known abroad, it is only celebrated in the south of Germany. Where I am from, Carnival is the most important festival.  It is such a big deal in Cologne that Carnival is called the “fifth season.”

Three fun facts about yourself:


  • I love traveling and learning foreign languages.
  • I have a dog, two birds, and two rabbits at home.
  • I enjoy doing martial arts, I already practiced MMA and Kung Fu and I am in the Allegheny College Aikido Club.


Valerie Mogollon ~ Spanish

Where do you live?
I am from Quito, Ecuador and I have lived there my whole life, until now.

What is your academic background?
I have a BA in Liberal Arts with a minor in Visual Arts.  I studied in Universidad San Francisco de Quito.  My career focused on Humanities, both Literature, and Philosophy, but along the way discovered my love for Art History.

What do you want people to know about your country?
My country is mainly known for the Galapagos Islands, but there is so much more than that.  My country is really small but it has four different regions.  Galapagos is one of them, but there is the Coastal region, the Andean region, and the Amazonas region.  I was born and raised in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, in the Andean region, and we live surrounded by mountains.  Each region is so diverse, both in people and nature.

Three  fun facts about me:

  • I recently learned to ride a bike (and I’m 21!)
  • I do Arabic dances
  • I love animals, especially cats