Salim (Esteban) Terrazas

salim In each issue of this newsletter, we profile one of the many student assistants who help make the Middlebury Libraries run smoothly. This issue of our newsletter features sophomore, Salim Terrazas. Salim began work at the Circulation Desk in the Davis Family Library in the Spring 2015, and he has continued with us throughout the summer. He is an incredible asset to our desk, proving himself an outstanding talent in several areas of circulation’s endeavors. His mastery of language skills helped summer faculty members and students easily access materials and requests, while his conversational manner made those interactions pleasant for everyone involved. He seems to enjoy jumping from Spanish to French to Japanese at the drop of a hat!

Salim began his work with us as a first-year student from San Antonio, Texas. While in high school, he thought Middlebury College was “too good to be real,” and he continues to maintain that view (although he does admit to forgetting this once in a while). Moving to a cooler climate appealed to him; winters in Texas tend toward brown in color, and he noted that a person’s mood tended to match those darker days. Relocating to a small town like Middlebury was a big adjustment since he was accustomed to an urban setting, but Salim confronted the challenge of meeting new friends head on, enjoying the challenge of building new “…social spheres from scratch.” He knew he would fit in well with the college’s academic structure, so he was glad when the social aspects fell into place as well. Salim is a student with many interests, but has not yet decided on his major. He may choose computer science, perhaps with the aim of making a career out of video game coding.

Salim’s natural talent and love for language skills came early, picking up English “incredibly fast” when he was five years old. His parents are native Spanish language speakers, and Salim moved to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of four. He also studied English in a bilingually-focused elementary school. Since, in the U.S., his given name Esteban was often mispronounced by the Americans, he changed it in high school when, while studying French, his teacher engaged in a tradition of students selecting a French name for use in class. Esteban came across the name “Salim” in a textbook, liked it, and chose it as his own. While the name “Salim” was not a native French name, it is a common name among the extensive Arab population living in France. He adopted the name and has been using it ever since. People frequently assume Salim is from the Middle East, and are sometimes shocked to learn that this is not true. Salim relates that this has taught him “invaluable lessons about identity, and I’ve learned to appreciate my birth name a lot more.” His appreciation for learning languages has blossomed into the field of linguistics, which he finds fascinating, and it also benefits his language studies. As he sums it up, “I guess I have always had a mind for languages.”

For the future, he will wait to see what develops. He admits to the possibility of being drawn to Seattle, where there is a lot of both rain and technology. For today, however, Salim enjoys life as a sophomore at Middlebury, and is focused on his semester activities and goals, including his highly productive hours at the circ desk!