Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: World Languages faculty member Dr. Barrau
Dr. Oscar Barrau is an associate professor of Spanish in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at IU South Bend. He grew up in Madrid, Spain, located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula and rich in culture, famous museums, and tapas bars. He is half Spanish and half French (his full name is Oscar Barrau Drapier), which gave his formative years an international flair. Accordingly, Oscar and all his siblings travelled and some studied abroad. This led Oscar, after beginning his undergraduate career in geography and history in the 1980s, to eventually journey across the ocean. He landed in Utah, where he completed his bachelor’s degree at a small public liberal arts college, Weber State University. It was his experiences at Weber, according to Dr. Barrau, that eventually led him to IU South Bend after earning his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
When asked about why he ultimately chose IU South Bend, Dr. Barrau shared that he was attracted by the smaller classroom sizes and lower faculty to student ratios, which give faculty the “privilege to develop relationships and to invest time with individual students,” he said. He loves the personal rapport that has developed with students over the years. Dr. Barrau enjoys his work with heritage speakers of Spanish. Recently, he has initiated a collaboration to promote degrees in Spanish for heritage speakers. The study of their first language enables heritage speakers of Spanish to develop a greater appreciation of the nuances and differences in the language across all the regional dialects and countries that speak Spanish. His advice to all students: “Be patient and slow down, enroll in fewer credits if you have to so that you do well in all courses. And talk with your professors frequently!”
Dr. Barrau is optimistic about the future of Latinx students at IU South Bend. He believes that our campus is changing and evolving and he hopes that with additional student scholarships, on-campus jobs, and a collective sense of identity and belonging, that Latinx students will thrive and graduate in ever greater numbers.