COLUMBIA — When Columbia College freshman Daniela Zeballos needed contact lenses, Juliana Quadrado went with her to translate between Portuguese, spoken in Zeballos's native Brazil, and English.
When senior Luana Branco was having trouble learning English as a sophomore, Juliana Quadrado helped her adjust.
When Cougars' head coach Melinda Wrye-Washington looks to Brazil for future recruits, she goes through Juliana Quadrado.
Quadrado is an assistant coach for the Cougars volleyball team (17-2, 5-0) and is fluent in English and Portuguese. Quadrado was born in Brazil and has been living in America for four years. She is working on a triple-major at Columbia College in marketing, administration and international business. There are six Brazilian natives on the Cougars' roster, threein their first year in the United States.
Quadrado tries to make herself available as much as possible to help the Brazilian girls' transition. From shopping and ordering food to helping with homework assignments, Quadrado is often called upon to help the girls adjust to life in a new country.
When the girls ask too often, though, Quadrado doesn't always lend a hand. She said she doesn't want to help the girls too much because she wants them to learn and struggle on their own, as she did.
"Sometimes I give them a hard time," Quadrado said. "Like they ask, ‘How do I say this?', and I just pretend I don't know English."
As a freshman at Dixie State College in Utah, Quadrado was the only foreign-born player on her volleyball team. Knowing no English and having no one to help her, Quadrado had to struggle to learn on her own, which she said helped her in the long run.
"Today, I'm a stronger person and more mature, that's for sure," Quadrado said.
On the court, Quadrado must translate instructions from Washington to the Portuguese-speaking players. Although some of the girls speak English relatively well, others are still learning.
"Most of them know enough English to answer simple questions," Washington said. "It'd be like taking high school Spanish for us, and then going someplace they speak Spanish. You may be able to ask where the bathroom is, but you're not going to be able to have a conversation."
When Quadrado wants to make her own point to the team, she must say everything twice, once in English and once in Portuguese. Although she admitted that saying everything twice can be tedious at times, speaking Portuguese to some of her players during the game can offer an advantage.
"I can get up and just yell, ‘Serve it to this position', and nobody knows," Quadrado said. "It comes in handy sometimes."
Quadrado said she became fluent in English after her freshman year in college. She transferred to North Central Texas College for her sophomore year, where her team made the national tournament in West Plains. Washington was in attendance for the tournament, saw Quadrado, and contacted her shortly thereafter about coming to Columbia College. She had other offers to consider, but once Quadrado found out there was another Brazilian player on the Cougars' roster, she decided to move to Columbia.
"I'm glad I came to Columbia College, and I don't regret it at all," Quadrado said. "The transition was very smooth, because I wasn't very happy in Texas. Because of the weather and everything, it wasn't really my lifestyle. Once I got here, I really liked it."
Quadrado played for the Cougars for two seasons. She said she is undecided on what path she wants to take after graduation — whether to pursue a job in her study areas or stay in volleyball.
Coaching is an option Quadrado says she considers continuing.
"I love volleyball, and I'm the kind of person who loves to help other people," Quadrado said. "When it comes to volleyball, I think I have a lot of experience that I can use to help the girls. It's something you learn as you go. You can't get a major in volleyball."
Quadrado said she tries to visit home once a year but isn't sure she wants to make a career in Brazil. A job in volleyball is something for which she would stay in the United States, but marketing or business might take her back home.
"The opportunities are there," Quadrado said. "It's just a matter for you to go and get them."