Culture and Dr. Cummings October 28, 2010 | RSS How many of us can say that we are truly culturally informed? Do we really know very much at all about foreign cultures? There is something other than the cold, fall weather stirring in the air at Bluefield College. Foreign film studies, Chinese exchange students, and Hispanic awareness education: these events are efforts made by Dr. Gerardo Cummings to try to bring more culture to Bluefield College. He is an Associate Professor of Spanish and first Director of Global Education. Born in Acapulco, Mexico, Gerardo Tonatiuh Cummings Rendón bounced between Canada and the U.S. for the first five years of his life, and then lived in Mexico until age 15. His full name uses both his father's last name, Cummings, and his mother's last name, Rendón, as is customary in Spanish culture. Dr. Cummings came back to the U.S. and attended Holy Redeemer High School, a Catholic private school in Detroit, Michigan, for his sophomore and junior years. As a senior, he transferred to Western High School. Dr. Cummings was extremely shy as a child. His interests in music and acting helped him to come out of his shell overtime. Dr. Cummings never expected to pursue further education after high school. Almost by accident, he was introduced to the Chicano-Boricua Studies Program at Wayne State University. Dr. Jose Cuello and Javier Garibay were actively recruiting Hispanics to come there. During his first couple of years at Wayne State University, Dr. Cummings tried his hand at music and acting. He learned to play the guitar, took various music and acting courses, and even took part in a couple of rock bands. He found out that he was not very good at music theory and did not really have the commitment to pursue a music or acting career. It was just not a good fit. It was not until an epiphany after those first three years of trial and error with music and acting that Dr. Cummings thought of becoming a Spanish teacher. Even though many members of his family were teachers, the thought had never crossed his mind before. One day he said to himself: "I know Spanish. Isn't there something I can do with Spanish?" It turns out that Wayne State University happened to have a bachelor's, a master's and a Ph.D. program for Spanish. Dr. Cummings went on to complete his bachelor's and master's degrees within about four more years. In the midst of working on his dissertation for his Ph.D., he started looking for a job. Over the next several years, Dr. Cummings worked at different schools including Cleveland State University, Bowling Green State University, during which he finished his dissertation, and Indiana State University. Today, Dr. Cummings has become a part of the Bluefield College family. Having worked at many different large, public, non-Christian schools, he was looking for something more. "I wasn't getting out of there what I was investing," he said. Bluefield College is different. "Here I'm feeling welcomed, I feel supported by the faculty, and here I feel like what I'm doing is being appreciated," said Dr. Cummings. Dr. Cummings loves the challenge and the interaction with students that teaching provides. He considers it a noble profession and feels that he was "born to teach." In addition to teaching, Dr. Cummings loves to write and is a published author. He likes taking the time to write something, to go through the publication process and to see that what he has written is available for people to read. "I like finding new things that no one has done before, or no one is interested in doing. I like to rescue forgotten texts or forgotten movies," he said.Dr. Cummings also enjoys interviewing actors. He has met with people such as Luis de Alba, a famous Mexican comedian, and Jorge Luke, a famous Mexican actor. Dr. Cummings does not interview people because he is looking for a great story, but because he is genuinely interested. "I like shedding light on what some people may not know, and what some people may not be interested in knowing. I like to dig deeper." As the first Director of Global Education at Bluefield College, Dr. Cummings has the opportunity to broaden our knowledge of other cultures. He is very passionate about bringing his culture and other cultures to Bluefield College. "I believe the position of Director of Global Education was created for someone to bring new ideas, to bring new programming, and to encourage students to understand that there is a whole world out there," Dr. Cummings said. "While I'm here, my mission is to bring diversity, to teach Spanish, to help the foreign language program grow, to have you understand the Spanish language and the Spanish culture a little more, understand where we come from, and hopefully grow to love it. And if not Spanish, then a different culture," he said. Dr. Cummings hopes that we as a college will embrace the culture that he brings in order to better connect and understand the world and the people in it.