Associate Professor of Spanish, Emeritus 1989-2019

Navigating jungles – of both the literal and figurative variety – kept Viki Defferding’s teaching career interesting, fulfilling and unpredictable in her 30 years at George Fox.

As a chaperone for Juniors Abroad trips to Central America, she got a taste of the tropics firsthand. As an associate professor of Spanish, she had the opportunity to, as she puts it, “guide students through the jungle of language.”

“I loved watching the lights go on as a student realized that something in another language actually makes sense,” she says. “I also loved teaching the Literature of Spain and Literature of Latin America classes, working together with students to discover many of the hidden meanings of the texts.”

Defferding came to George Fox in the late 1980s after teaching previously in public schools. The university’s emphasis on faith – and its encouragement to express that faith freely in the classroom – invigorated her. “I came from secular schools, so it has always been such a joy and privilege to be able to share the gospel, pray and worship together with students in the classroom,” she says. “To have been able to work, pray, share and cry with my colleagues has also been very precious.”

The job also came with plenty of laughter. One memory that stands out came on a Juniors Abroad trip to Central America. “We went zip lining, and one of my colleagues braked too early and didn’t have the momentum to zip through to the next station. She was dangling helplessly until a nice worker zipped out to rescue her. We’ve had a lot of laughs over that one.”

Fittingly, Defferding concluded her George Fox career with a Juniors Abroad trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco this spring. Looking ahead, she plans to travel, especially to Central America, where she’s involved in ongoing school and church projects in the town of Copan Ruinas, Honduras. And, of course, there will be more time to spend with grandchildren – “a lot more time,” she says.