Eric Lopez (French/Wolof Interpreter)
French Interpreter, avid learner and supporter of children.
Eric is a proud naturalized American citizen, who was born and raised in Senegal, West Africa. The most frequent questions people ask are usually about the origin of his accent and last name. Eric speaks French, which is the first language in Senegal and where his accent comes from. His grandparents were all born in Cape Verde, so they taught him to speak Cape Verdean Creole, which is a Portuguese creole. His last name was to be Lopes, but since his grandfather couldn’t read, he wasn’t able to underline the spelling error and the family name became Lopez. Eric also speaks Wolof which is a dialect spoken in Dakar. In middle school, he learned English and Spanish. And has since been very keen on learning languages, especially English. Spanish was super easy because of the fact that he already spoke French and that the grammatical rules are very similar.
In Senegal, Eric was a privileged child as his father worked for the government, and had the means to send him and his siblings to private Catholic school. Going to school in Senegal isn’t given to all, and his father made sure to point out the value of education. He also taught them to share with the less fortunate, leading by example to always help families in their neighborhood. As a Boy Scout, Eric traveled to many regions to teach French in villages and learned about the rich cultures which surrounded Senegal. He left the Boy Scouts to run track and rose to compete in Olympic trials in 1989.
His father’s guidance and the positive influence of his track and field experience inspired him to give back to the children of Senegal through Sponsor Zone, an organization that he founded in 2021 to advance Senegalese youth through education and sports. Through the collective giving of individuals, businesses, and organizations, Sponsor Zone supports Olympic hopefuls with monthly stipends and identifies and develops future leaders through a three-week summer camp. Developing this 501(c)3 into a sustainable source of support for the often forgotten and neglected youth of Senegal is Eric’s current passion.
At age 28, Eric married a US citizen and immigrated to the United States. As he navigated the naturalization process, he continued his education. Eric was disappointed to learn that only three of the Bachelor's degree classes he took in Senegal were accepted here, so he started over. He pursued higher education and obtained an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Johnson and Wales. With this degree he became a restaurant manager, first at Taco Bell and then Ruby Tuesdays. But, he didn’t stop there, he continued taking classes until graduating with a Bachelor's Degree from the University of West Georgia in French and Spanish in 2004, which is when he started teaching with a provisional status. Eric took more classes to achieve certification and completed his first Master's degree in Education in 2009. And, now is in a second Master's program for English as a Second Language.