Christina Cappy, PhD

Founder/Italian Teacher

I was born in a small town outside of Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of 11, I moved across the world to a slightly larger town—Florence, Italy. Although my Italian-American family only intended to stay there for a year, we ended up staying for over 10! In Italy I grew up eating delicious food and chatting with my friends on the steps of churches every evening. I learned to speak the language fluently and enjoy the wonders that life had to offer. But I also had a passion for learning more about the rest of the world and was ready to explore.

I ended up going to college in Atlanta, Georgia and Cape Town, South Africa to study anthropology and international studies. Throughout this time, I kept up my connection with my hometown, returning to Italy to work over the summers and teaching Italian at Emory University during the school year. After graduation I traveled throughout Asia, teaching K-12 students for several months at a home for street kids in India. These adventures made me interested in how people around the world learn in different ways.

After a five-day-turned-one-year visit to Bend (we know how that goes!) in 2009, I returned to school to get my master’s and joint PhD in anthropology and educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While working on my degree, I taught Italian classes at the university and continued to enjoy working with the Italian community. I lived in South Africa for two years as a Fulbright Scholar while I did my research on high school education and became an advanced Zulu speaker. During my last year of my studies I was given the opportunity to write my dissertation from anywhere in the world—and I decided to move back to our beautiful town of Bend. 

In Bend I started teaching small group and private lessons in Italian, as well as anthropology classes at COCC and OSU-Cascades. I love teaching! I have also enjoyed continuing to go to school to master my Spanish language skills with the help of our fantastic teachers in Bend. Through these experiences I have also come to understand the importance of being able to tailor educational needs to individual people. Working one-on-one with students and keeping class sizes small and affordable are essential to any learning adventure. That is when I decided to create Bend Language Institute.

My goal through Bend Language Institute is to provide meaningful education through language and cultural studies to our Bend community. Learning a language isn’t just about memorizing words but understanding another way of life. It helps broaden our perspectives and engage our minds. Plus, it is fun!


Laura Bouvet Feryn
Laura Bouvet FerynInstructor —French
Bonjour! After being a neuropsychologist for a few years, I decided to switch careers and become a French teacher. I got inspired by the English teachers I had after moving to the US, who taught with kindness and passion. It’s now my turn to empower students of all ages and levels to discover French and the Francophone culture. In addition to lessons with adults, I’ve been teaching French for kids in afterschool programs and high school students for the International Baccalaureate. My background as a neuropsychologist gave me a better understanding of language development and its components. When I’m not chasing my kids around Bend parks, I love hiking, practicing yoga and handmade embroidering. I’m looking forward to meeting new students and sharing more about the French way of living. A bientôt.
Michela Sodomaco
Michela SodomacoInstructor —Italian
I was born and raised in Italy, where I studied English and French. I moved to the United States in 1991 and lived in Texas and California before moving to Bend in 2010. I have a master’s in early childhood education and have been a teacher at St Francis Catholic School for the past four years. I love teaching students and adults my native language and culture. I have traveled extensively in Europe and had the opportunity to learn about other countries’ history, culture, and food. I love to cook and discover different cuisines and traditions. I believe learning a language is a journey into a country’s history, beliefs, and way of living.
Monica Burdsall
Monica Burdsall Instructor —ASL
I was born Deaf and I am elated to be Deaf. It is an invisible disability where I am fully functional like everyone else, except I cannot hear. I was raised orally and
later learned Signed Exact English through mainstream public schools. Then, I graduated from Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world. I am a former elementary teacher that taught deaf students at Indiana School for the Deaf and at the Colorado School for the Deaf. Since my family moved to Bend 23 years ago, I have taught ASL at Bend High School and Ridgeview High School, as well as at COCC. Now, I teach ASL to Bend Immersion Preschool students and staff, as well as Bend Language Institute. I enjoy living in both deaf and hearing worlds and interacting through both languages.
Silvi Galmozzi
Silvi GalmozziInstructor —Spanish
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Spanish was the language I spoke at home with my family, and later became an important language for my career. Since moving to Bend, I have found a new and exciting career path as a medical interpreter and language teacher. When I am not at Bend Language Institute, I am teaching Spanish in local middle schools and through the COCC continuing education program. I also enjoy teaching courses in nonverbal communications at a local studio. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, baking, and kayaking with my husband in our beautiful lakes around Central Oregon.
Joshua Savage
Joshua SavageInstructor —Spanish
I am a native of the South, the Memphis area to be exact. Over the past 20 years I have taught Spanish, English, and Social Studies to all age groups. My love for travel has led me all over the world, from Argentina to Spain. With so much natural beauty to explore in the Pacific Northwest, I am constantly on the hunt for new adventures. I enjoy teaching, exploring the outdoors, writing, and spending time with family. I’m super excited to bring my enthusiasm to the Bend Language Institute!
Armando Alcalde
Armando AlcaldeInstructor —Spanish
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela into a Cuban family. We moved to the USA when I was young and I was raised in an English/Spanish bilingual household. Currently, I reside part time in Spain and part time in Bend, OR.

I have a B.S. in Zoology and an M.S. in Environmental Health Science and work as a environmental scientist/biologist, ski instructor and musician. I teach classes in both Spanish and English in all three disciplines. I teach Spanish language courses, private students and translate documents. I‘m passionate about sharing the beautiful Spanish language. We will get to know one another, share stories, laugh and develop our language skills in a supportive and fun educational environment.

¡Bienvenidos a todos!

Yuan Giersdorf
Yuan GiersdorfInstructor—Mandarin Chinese
I was born in Beijing, China and graduated with a degree of law. Before moving to Bend, I helped students learn Mandarin Chinese in Portland. Teaching my native language comes naturally to me. I love to share not only the language, but the culture behind it. I believe that communication is a universal tool and I enjoy helping people connect through language. I hope to meet you soon and let’s have some fun!
Yu Teshima
Yu Teshima Instructor—Mandarin Chinese
I graduated with a degree in law in China before moving to Bend, Oregon in 2005. Upon moving to Oregon, I started teaching Mandarin to both young children and adults. Teaching has now been my profession for the last 14 years. The saying, “Being a teacher means being a good teacher,” has become part of my nature. I love teaching my native language to people and working with them on a daily basis. I like to make language learning fun and I hope to meet you soon!
Olga Rogers
Olga Rogers Instructor —Russian
Hello! I was born and raised in rural Chuvashia, Russia. In 2009 I graduated from Chuvashia State University to become a teacher of History and English. I moved to US in 2011 and lived in four states since then: North Carolina, Nebraska, Montana and Oregon. I met some incredible people with different backgrounds and I am constantly impressed by people who want to learn about different cultures, and learn new languages. I am excited to share my knowledge of the Russian language, culture and history.
Bagda Rogers
Bagda RogersInstructor —Russian
I grew up in Kazakhstan and have a teacher’s degree. I have travelled a lot and love to explore new cultures and languages. I’ve worked as an interpreter/translator in the past and I’m excited to meet new people who are interested in learning Russian language! In my free time I like hiking, fishing, cooking and playing piano. I’m looking forward to meeting new students!
Janet Gesme
Janet GesmeInstructor —Spanish, German and Russian
I was born in Springfield, Missouri and started life as a professional violist, but the allure of languages has pulled me into learning German, Russian, Spanish, French, and a little Hungarian and Korean. I have a master’s degree in German from Portland State University and have translated the German best sellers “Around the World on 50 Bucks” and “The Sound of Life’s Unspeakable Beauty.” I have also worked as a Spanish translator for Head Start, and as a tri-lingual screener for Volunteers in Medicine (English, Spanish and Russian). I am completely addicted to learning languages and can’t wait to share this joy with you!
Naoko Gamble
Naoko Gamble Instructor —Japanese
I grew up in Nara, Japan and obtained a Bachelor’s in English from Osaka Shoin Women’s College. Before coming to Bend, I lived in Southern California for 21 years. I previously worked at a university as a liaison staff between the Japanese government agency and faculty of the Computer Science Department. I was also an office manager at a small advertising company and worked at the County Education Office as an administrative assistant. I am thrilled to be joining Bend Language Institute as a Japanese teacher to introduce my native language.
Sabah Hassounah
Sabah HassounahInstructor — Arabic
I was born in Gaza (Palestine). I earned my BA in Psychology and Sociology from the American University in Cairo (AUC). After graduation I moved to Kuwait and worked with one of the leading daily newspapers as an English/Arabic translator and subsequently became an editor and columnist for 16 years. After the Kuwait invasion, my husband and I moved to Dubai where I was the managing editor of a weekly magazine for 5 years. We moved to America 22 years ago and settled in Connecticut. I worked as a political adviser at the United Arab Emirates Mission to the United Nations in New York for 15 years. I moved to Bend two years ago.
Diane Brown
Diane BrownInstructor —French and Spanish
Bonjour and Hola! I grew up in Bend and have made language learning my life’s work. I just recently retired from Bend High after more than 30 wonderful years teaching young people to communicate in French and Spanish. I have lived in France, Spain and China and hope to inspire and empower others to discover new places and people. I love sharing the fun of language learning with others of all ages and backgrounds, using stories, songs, movement and games. I look forward to meeting you! À bientôt!
Lindsey Bakos
Lindsey BakosInstructor —English Speakers of Other Languages
Lindsey loves language! She is a Colorado native but has lived in Bend for three years. She has a BA in Modern Languages and History and an MEd in ESOL. She has taught English for the past eight years. Lindsey has worked as an instructor in private language schools and at the community college level with students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Currently she is teaching English online in East Asia and working as a writing/ESOL tutor at OSU-Cascades. In her free time she enjoys all things outdoors. She loves camping, hiking, kayaking, reading and cooking.
Catherine Leavitt
Catherine Leavitt Instructor —French
As a teacher, I love being part of my young students’ lives to instill confidence and find ways to help them engage in their own learning. I also have enjoyed teaching adults because we often share the same motivation to be lifelong learners.
In my free time, I love spending time with my family, and listening to my adult/teen children share their various world changing ideas; they say it is their French heritage that makes them good at arguing! Some of my other pursuits are piano, fitness/nutrition coaching and rock climbing. I am very much looking forward to meeting new students and have fun learning.
Meg Rozek
Meg RozekInstructor —ASL
Hello! I fell in love with ASL in high school when I took a class at the community college, it just felt natural to my hands and eyes. My interpreter training program placed me as a volunteer at the Washington State School for the Deaf. I immediately knew that I was meant to work at the school and convinced them to hire me as a 22 year old. Most recently here in Bend, I spent 10 years teaching ASL to grades 6-12 at a local charter school. I enjoy meeting up with other ASL users in our small but growing community. I am a certified doula and I hope to serve members of the Deaf community as their doula.


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