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Somos y Estamos - January 2005

Newsletter of the Department of Spanish of Western Michigan University

The English Translation January 2005

2004 . We are pleased to be able to report that 2004 was a good year for the department. On every level; academic, cultural, sports; the excellent work of our Spanish students and faculty has produced noteworthy results. It would be impossible, and also very boring, to mention here all the accomplishments, activities, prizes and wild things that we have witnessed over the past year. Given that, in this edition of Somos y Estamos we will simply review and summarize a few of the events and deeds that have made for a memorable year. We will also take a look at plans for the new year, which we hope will be of interest to you. Please continue reading.

2005 . . . and Beyond . With considerable enthusiasm and after many hours of interesting discussion, the department faculty have developed a plan to be presented to Dr. Thomas Kent, Dean of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Kent has requested that each department put forth a series of proposals or initiatives to help carry out the specific goals of the department, which of course should be compatible with the broader goals of the College of Arts and Sciences and of the university. This plan is called a "Compact Plan" because it is meant to be an agreement, an understanding, between the dean and the department. At this point the plan is tentative and no doubt will undergo a number of changes before being finalized in March. In any case, we anticipate that the following proposals, among others, will be included in the plan:

A total of twelve projects will be proposed for consideration by Dean Kent. Clearly we will not implement all of these ideas immediately, much less all at the same time. Nonetheless, with the dean's approval, we hope to be able to begin several of them in 2005.

Each year we will need to evaluate the "Compact Plan", eliminating what has not worked, making necessary changes, adding what seems reasonable. If you as alumni or friends of the department have ideas for us to consider, we would appreciate receiving them. We want to be prepared for the future, not surprised by it.

Happy New Year to all!

2004 An Interesting Year?

What was the most interesting thing you experienced in 2004? That is the question we asked a number of faculty and graduate students during the last days of the old year. Their answers, interesting or not, follow:

Pablo Pastrana (faculty): See Teotihuacán and climb the Pyramid of the Sun.

Alicia Arribas (Ph.D. student, Burgos): Teach eight-year olds through 60-year olds.

Holly Nibert (faculty): I returned to Spain and relived moments of my undergraduate years exploring Barcelona.

Carolyn Harris (faculty): Eat guinea pig on a mountain side of Chimborazo.

Hedy Habra (Ph.D. student, Michigan): Discover Buenos Aires.

Jessica DeBoer (Ph.D. student, Michigan): A trip between Pisco and Nasca through the mountains at night in a car with no headlights.

Virginia Ruifernández (M.A. student, Burgos): A trip to California over spring break with Mariola, Javier y Luis.

John Benson (faculty): Eat in "Las Pichanchas" restaurant in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.

Elena Gaudio (administrative assistant): I conquered the new student information system (SIS), I hope...let it be so...give me strength...hear my prayer!

Robert Vann (faculty): Negotiate an exchange agreement with the University of Lleida and begin country life in the hills of Plainwell

Luis Flores (M.A. student, Cáceres): I visited California and was impressed by San Francisco.

Benjamín Torres (faculty): Introduce Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá at the Caribe Conference in Milwaukee and preside at the round table session on his writings.

Pilar López Castilla (M.A. student, Burgos): I became an aunt, fell in love again, came here.

Seidy Flórez (faculty): Visit Chiapas.

Genevieve Stephenson (M.A. student, Michigan): I went hiking and camping on Manitou Island for a week.

Lindsey Cherry (M.A. student, Michigan): I jumped off a mountain top in Switzerland.

Carmen Coronel (M.A. student, Querétaro): Come here and discover another culture.

Nuño Castellanos (Ph.D. student, Burgos): Have helped Aznar leave government work.

Antonio Isea (faculty): I visited the Bombonera soccer stadium and the peaks of Machu Picchu.

Michael Millar (faculty): I attended a meeting of writers and literary critics en the Café Paradiso in Tegucigalpa.

Luis Loya (M.A. student, California): I traveled to the moon.

Sara Heil (M.A. student, Michigan): A sailing trip through the North Channel in Canada.

Pilar Forero (M.A. student, Michigan): My work with the TAs and my students has rejuvenated me.

Mercedes Tasende (faculty): The Rubén Blades concert on the beach at Riazor and the Chucho Valdés concert in Castrelos Park.

Gary Bigelow (faculty): I took canoeing lessons, played softball with the Mambo Kings and tore out cupboards and rugs as a first step toward remodeling the kitchen.

Silvia Cebrecos (M.A. student, Burgos): My sweetheart was responsible for my warmest smiles.

Juan Carlos Martínez Belda (M.A. student, Elche): Come here and learn new things, a different culture.

Jorge Febles (faculty): Stay at the hotel where "El bolero de Raquel" was filmed and admire the handprint left by Cantinflas on the wall of the hotel.

Robert Felkel (faculty): In 2004 I overcame my laziness and finally read the apocryphal version of Don Quixote, by Avellaneda.

Nuria Ibáñez (Ph.D student, Burgos): The two conferences I attended were two of my most interesting experiences last year.

Irma López (faculty): Lila Downs in Oaxaca, Mayra Montero in Kalamazoo, glaciers in Alaska and Fado music taverns in Portugal.

Michael (Miguel) Braun (faculty): Begin my work here, of course.

Diomedes Solano (M.A. student, Querétaro): I traveled like never before in my life: California, Florida, Canada.

Patricia Montilla (faculty): I ran the Chicago Marathon, which I hope to repeat.

Sarah Smith (M.A. student, Michigan): Take my boyfriend to Spain.

Mayra Montero Was Here

In September the Department of Spanish was privileged to welcome Mayra Montero, renown Cuban-Puerto Rican novelist, as part of the University Distinguished Artists and Scholars program. Ms. Montero spoke to the university community and to our Spanish students, about her own writing in particular and about literature in general.

Mayra Montero was born in La Habana, Cuba. She studied journalism. Since 1972 she has lived in Puerto Rico, where she first worked as a sports writer (covering baseball games) and later as a writer for several publicity firms. In 1979 she became the editorial writer for El Mundo, which at that time was the island's oldest and most widely circulated newspaper. After that, Montero served as a correspondent in Central America and the Caribbean while at the same time authoring the column "What the Wire Service Didn't Say", a five-time winner of the Overseas Press Club award in Puerto Rico. In 1984 Montero received the Eddie López prize for journalism, the most important recognition of its kind given in Puerto Rico. At present, Mayra writes for the newspaper El Nuevo Día where she has a weekly column titled "Before Monday Rolls Around."

Mayra's career in creative writing began in 1981 with the publication of the volume of short stories Twenty-Three Turtles. In 1986 she published her first novel, The Pig-tail of the Beautiful Moon, a finalist in the contest "Premio Herralde", sponsored annually by publisher Anagrama (Barcelona). Since then, Montero has published eight novels, among them The Last Night that I Spent with You (1991), a finalist in the "Premio de la Sonrisa Vertical" competition organized by Tusquets Publishing. These successes were reinforced en 2000 when Deep Purple (Púrpura Profundo ) received the distinction as best erotic novel of the year. Montero's latest publication, Hollow Ilusion (2003), is a novelized account of the memories of Puerto Rican musician Narciso Figueroa.

The novels by Montero have been translated into at least nine languages, certainly confirming a critic's description of her as one of the "most consistently interesting writers." With great sensitivity and masterful narrative technique Mayra Montero is contributing to the enrichment of Hispanic literature. It was a pleasure and literary honor to have welcomed her as our special guest.

Caribe ~ The Journal of Caribbean Culture and Literature

More than six years have passed since the first issue of Caribe, a literary and cultural journal produced through the combined efforts of the Department of Foreign Languages at Marquette University and the Department of Spanish at Western Michigan University. In spite of its modest appearance, that first issue published in December of 1998 contained essays and creative work by such well-known authors as now deceased Venezuelan novelist Denzil Romero, Puerto Rican writer Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá, Cuban writers Matías Montes-Huidobro, Gustavo Pérez Firmat and Antonio Benítez Rojo, and prolific Colombian author David Sánchez Juliao.

Since that time, Caribe has been published with admirable regularity for an scholarly journal. Due in no small measure to the material and moral support of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University and its counterpart at Marquette, each summer and winter witnesses the arrival of a brand new issue that includes articles not only on the literature and culture of the Caribbean basin, but also on Mexico, Central America, Venezuela and Colombia, as well as on the work of Hispanics living in the United States. In addition, Caribe publishes selected original creative writing and a section of book reviews, coordinated by professor Benjamín Torres Caballero of Western Michigan University. Over the years, the names of many prestigious scholars and authors have been added to the those who contributed to the first issue: Marjorie Agosín, Carlota Caulfield, Jesús Barquet, Seymour Menton, Cristina Policastro, Klaus Miller-Bergh, Pedro Juan González, José Corrales, Isabel Alvarez Borland, Marco Tulio Aguilera Garramuño, Eliana Rivero, William Luis, Norberto Codina, Janet Pérez, Luis Arturo Ramos, Kristian Van Haesendonck, and many, many others.

Given the high quality of its content, the punctuality in its publication and its increasingly attractive format, Caribe is acquiring an excellent reputation in the United States and abroad. Its circulation has increased slowly but consistently, as is customary in academic circles. The editors of the journal, Jorge Febles (Western Michigan University) and Armando González-Pérez (Marquette University) are confident that in time Caribe will become an indispensable academic resource for all studies focused on the literature and culture of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Another positive result of the publication has been to provide an additional opportunity for WMU faculty and graduate students to participate in academic discourse. Indeed, a number of faculty have written book reviews which appear in various issues of Caribe. Professors Benjamín Torres Caballero, John Benson, Irma López, Patricia Montilla, Mercedes Tasende, Antonio Isea and Holly Nibert have all published brief analysis or comentary on books. Likewise, graduate students Nuria Ibáñez Quintana and Luis Flores Portero have published book reviews in Caribe, while Silvia Ruiz Tresgallo will do so in the Winter 2005 issue.

Although neither WMU Spanish faculty nor students are allowed to contribute feature articles for Caribe, the journal is pleased to consider their manuscripts once they have left our campus. One such case occurred recently with the essay "Medellín at the Movies: Film Narrative and the Crisis of the National Lettered Culture in Colombia" by Professor Corey Shouse Tourino, a graduate of Western Michigan University who subsequently completed the Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh. Caribe also will soon publish book reviews by Christopher Brown, Gustavo Rodríguez and Shalissa Leach, all WMU Spanish M.A. graduates.

In sum, Caribe has been been a very positive academic project both for the Department of Spanish and for Western Michigan University. Since the future of the journal appears even brighter, one would expect it to continue and contribute to the enhancement of the reputation the our master's and doctoral programs. May it be so.

First Conference on Caribbean Literature and Culture

The first Conference on Caribbean Literature and Culture, organized by Caribe: revista de cultura y literatura, took place in Milwaukee between October 13-16. The event was coordinated by Professor Armando González-Pérez of Marquette University, co-editor of Caribe, whose efforts received moral and material support from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Foreign Languages at Marquette. Invited special guests were Puerto Rican author Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá, who accepted the invitation due to his close friendship with Professor Benjamín Torres of WMU; and Matías Montes Huidobro, Cuban playwright, essayist and novelist, founder of Caribe and frequent contributor to the journal. His one-act play Gas en los poros was successfully performed at the conference.

A sizable contingent of faculty and graduate students from Western traveled to Milwaukee to read papers and participate in the other conference activities. WMU participants and the titles of their papers are as follows: John Benson ("De viaje por el caribe con David Sánchez Juliao"), Carmen Febles ('La engañosa profundidad de 'A Margarita Debayle''), Jorge Febles ('''El hijo noveno' en Concierto para sordos: la intertextualización regeneradora de un relato primicial"), Luis Flores Portero ("La búsqueda del ideal poético a través de la liberación del arte y la palabra en 'Sinfonía en gris mayor' de Rub´n Darío"), Hedy Habra ("El palmar de La Chusmita: pre-texto y resistencia a la escritura en Doña Bárbara"), Mariana Hernández Hernández ("La búsqueda y expresión de lo no efímero en 'Efímeras'"), Nuria Ibáñez Quintana ("El amor en los tiempos del cólera: un viaje de aprendizaje"), Patricia Montilla ("El libro de Giulio Camillo de Carlota Caufield" ) y Benjamín Torres Caballero ("La novela detectivesca de Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá"). We are pleased to say that all the above papers were well received. If a vote of the conference participants were held, the group from Western Michigan University would no doubt have taken home a bundle of academic Oscars.

Thank You Very Much

Many of you have generously remembered our department with donations during the past year. Although we have already written you individually, we would like to thank you again, collectively. Contibutions to the Herb B. Jones Student Support Fund allowed us for the first time to give two $500 scholarships instead of one.

Likewise, dontations to the Círculo Cervantes and Círculo Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz made it possible to recognize in a tangible manner the achievements of numerous students. If you are inclined and able to repeat your generosity in 2005, or would like to donate for the first time, please make your check payable to the Department of Spanish ~ Western Michigan University and send it to:

WMU Foundation
1903 West Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49008

If you would like to designate your donation for one of the funds mentioned above, or for another particular purpose, please indicate your wish on the check memo line.

Congratulations! Scholarship and Award Recipients of 2005

Students are the essence of the university. They come in all sizes and ages, with different talents, and they all contribute to the formation of an optimal learning environment. We appreciate all of them and their desire to learn Spanish. Those who have distinguished themselves in their studies are too numerous to mention here, so we will consider the following students as representatives of their peers.

Congratulations to Mary Koenigsknecht (St. Johns), Departmental Presidential Scholar, as well as to all the other recipients of scholarships and awards, and to their family members, classmates and friends who share in their accomplishments.

Travel/Study Abroad Awards in Spanish

Amanda Bellino (Geneva, IN)
Rachel Francisco (Kalamazoo)
Corey Stolcenberg (Wyoming)
Amy Swiderski (Monroe)
The purpose of these awards which are funded by the department is to support students in study abroad. In 2004 the Department was able to present four awards of $600 each.

Spanish Departmental Awards

Lisa Bungert (Brighton)
Amjad Majid (Kalamazoo)
Caroline Purvins (Wyoming)
Stacey Fink (Eaton Rapids)
Dianne Conn (Ortonville)
Lindsay Gwyther (Rutland, MA)
Andrea Lofquist (Marysville)
Marissa Mendrygal (Redford)
Ann Walls (Kalamazoo)
Tracey Chandonnet (Muskegon)
Premio Octavio Paz
Premio Jorge Luis Borges
Premio Joan Coromines
Premio Rosalía de Castro
Premio Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
Premio María Moliner
Premio Suzanne M. Wheatley
Premio Alfonso X el Sabio
Premio Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Premio Antonio de Nebrija
These awards (books in the majority of cases) were acquired with funds donated to the department. Our sincere appreciation to the many people who have made donations in 2003 and 2004.

Memorial Scholarships

Casey Pierce (Northport)
Alicia Gonzáez (Muskegon)
Mary Koenigsknecht (St. Johns)
Matthew Bourbina (Monroe)
María Rama (Burgos, Spain)
Herb B. Jones Scholarship
Herb B. Jones Scholarship
Mathilde Steckelberg Scholarship
Lori Beth Pattison Scholarship
Sue C. Mardis Scholarship
The Herb B. Jones Scholarships ($500 each) were presented in memory of Dr. Jones, professor extraordinaire, Spanish Section Head for nearly two decades, and the first professor of Spanish to receive the prestigious WMU Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence (1972).

The Mathilde Steckelberg Scholarship ($700) is supported by funds donated by the late Ms. Steckelberg, Professor of Latin and Chair of the Language Department.

The Lori Beth Pattison Scholarship ($1500) is given in memory of our former student and university professor of Spanish. The scholarship is awarded annually to the Spanish major considered the best student of literature. Our sincere appreciation to Dr. Dale Pattison and his family.

The Sue C. Mardis Scholarship ($2500) is given in memory of Ms. Mardis, who taught Spanish and French in the public schools. She was a strong advocate of study abroad. This award for study in a Spanish-speaking country is supported by funds donated by Bonnie Mardis.

Ruth Y. Kirby Scholarships in Spanish

Katie Anderson (Paw Paw)
Megan Donajkowski (Grand Rapids)
Justin Duewke (Portage)
Alana Dumasius (Grosse Isle)
Erin Farmer (Saline)
Stacey Fink (Eaton Rapids)
Cheray Kiendl (Cassopolis)
Jessica Myers (White Cloud)
Kristin Rossi (Rochester Hills)
Danielle Shea (Macomb)
Pamela Weirsma (Marne)
These scholarships with a value of $1100 each are awarded from the funds donated by Ruth Y. Kirby. Ms. Kirby taught foreign languages at Western and in the public schools in Kalamazoo and Portage. The scholarships she established may be used either for study on campus in Kalamazoo or for study abroad.

President's Award and Scholarships for Study Abroad

Matthew Crowe (Rockford Hills)
Maria Markus (Portage)
Marquita Mays (Milwaukee, WI)
Julie McManus (Midland)
Joanna Peszko (White Lake)
Melissa Valeen (Waterford)
These scholarships funded by the university, were established for students of foreign language by former president Diether Haenicke. Six President's Scholarships of $2000 each were presented. We are grateful for the vision and support of Dr. Haenicke.
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Timothy Statler: Alumnus of the Year

Timothy H. Statler, a 1984 graduate of WMU, received the Alumni Achievement Award in Spanish for 2004. The award was presented by Dr. Thomas Kent, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, at a ceremony held on October 15. When he arrived on campus, after having spent three years in Colombia, Tim already knew a lot of Spanish and had learned many other interesting and useful things. He distinguished himself as one our best students and certainly the most interesting one of his time. Tim is currently the owner of Statler International Corporation. His firm represents a British company that produces electronic equipment for use in the concrete industry. His work frequently takes him to Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Another of Tim’s interests is to promote EARTH (Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda en Costa Rica), a non-profit school of tropical agriculture in Costa Rica.

Congratulations to our alumnus of the year, Timothy H. Statler, who now joins the select company of Dr. Steven Kokmeyer (award recipient in 2002) and attorney Thomas King (recipient in 2003).

The Eternal Springtime of Querétaro

"Our experience in Querétaro and Mexico was absolutely incredible," are the words Amy Bowen and Joanna Peszko use to try to summarize their stay in that neighboring country. They were members of the WMU program Querétaro 2004 (January-June) in which fourteen students took part. The students were drawn to Mexico by their enthusiasm for the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, as well as their desire to discover new personal and professional opportunities. Nancy Martínez remembers her reasons for joining the group: "I wanted to see the world and live in different places. I didn't want to spend all my life inside a box." There was, quite naturally, some anxiousness associated with her pending adventure: "I was going to leave everything I knew to have an experience whose outcome was uncertain." Not to worry. With the help of Mexican families, classmates and teachers, Nancy and the other WMU students soon began to feel at home in Querétaro. Karen Kowalewski expresses the results this way: "I am quickly learning things about the country and the people that I would never have known if I hadn’t come to Querétaro. I hope to integrate my life here to life in Michgan. I will never forget my stay here, nor my new family and friends. Fortunately I am going to have incredible memories for the rest of my life."

It is certainly a challenge, to one degree or another, to live in another country and adapt oneself to different customs. Still, all of us who have gone through this adaptation know that it was one of the best periods in our life and that indeed it would now be difficult to imagine our present life without that experience. It is precisely that desire to broaden our students' view of the world that has motivated the enthusiastic faculty support for the Querétaro program since its inception in 1995. New year's greetings to all the participants from previous years, and especially to those from this year: RaShaun Bird, Amy Bowen, Megan Donajkowski, Rebekah Friesen, Jessica Guy, Rachel Guy, Kirsten Jorgensen, Cheray Kiendl, Karen Kowalewski, Nancy Martínez, Amy Mattingly, Jessica Myers, Joanna Peszko and Danielle Shea.

Burgos in the fall

The seventh edition of our program in Burgos has been a complete success. As soon as they arrive in Burgos, students are welcomed by a local family. This year six new families have signed up to host students, in more than one instance because they had heard that our students are responsible, respectful and nice. To be sure, this year nine of the twenty student participants, almost half, had such positive experiences with their respective families that they opted to remain with them during the second part of the semester rather than move into the San Agustín residence hall. If my memory serves me well, that is a new record for family stays in Burgos.

This year we have a new graduate student from the University of Burgos who serves as coordinator for the Spanish language courses. His name is José Manuel and, in addition to being very competent, he is personable and quite handsome. I think that more than a few of the women students shared that opinion, and thus invited José to a picnic they organized in the Parque del Parral ... an invitation which he of course was glad to accept. Another very positive thing that we have done this year with the language courses is to create two groups, because with twenty students enrolled it is very difficult to give adequate individual attention if there is only one. We plan to continue this arrangement in the future, assuming of course, as is probable, that twenty students enroll in this program each year.

The students took maximum advantage of vacation periods, traveling to Andalucía, Cataluña, Italy, and three as far as Finland! Beginning October 4 (after finishing the intensive language portion of the semester), students took culture courses, one in Spanish art and the other in Spanish history. These classes are much more difficult than the language classes, but so far no one has said they are impossible. This fact illustrates well that the students made great strides, because when we arrived in August I think that only one or two of them would have been able to handle these challenging classes.

The entire Department of Spanish is anxious for these students to return to classes here on campus because, as happens each year, they will enrich our classes by their presence.

And Now . . . Santander in Summer 2005

(University of Cantabria)

These past few days we have been finalizing details for our first summer program abroad. The Burgos program (August-December) and the Querétaro program (January-June) will now be deliciously complemented by a program at a different time and place. As in the case of Burgos and Querétaro, our motivation for establishing this new program in Santander is the certainty that we can offer our students an authentic, practical and economical experience, of better quality and longer duration than other, more costly programs. The proposed dates for this year are June 3-July 28. We will accept qualified WMU students who have completed the course in Spanish composition (SPAN 316). This summer program will give many students (those in business, engineering, education, nursing, etc.) an option they were lacking since the courses required for their major make it difficult for them to study abroad during fall or spring semesters.

They will have a good time in Santander, a city of some 200,000 persons, capital of the province of Cantabria. As some of you probably know, the city has fine beaches that traditionally have attracted many Spaniards, but not many foreign visitors (who usually prefer the crowded resorts on the Mediterranean). Santander offers our students the benefit of a rich summer cultural calendar which will prevent them from wasting all their free time on the beach. They will not have too much free time anyway, thanks to the culture class given by Professor Mercedes Tasende (from our department) and the Spanish classes taught by faculty from the University of Cantabria. Students will know that they are students first. Lodging will be with local families, one student per family, as is the norm for our programs.

Obviously we are very excited about this new opportunity for Western students. For additional information, please consult our department website.

Did you know...?

WMU's main campus sits on more than 800 acres.
There are 125 buildings, 16 miles of roadways and more than 39 miles of sidewalks.
Today we have some 28,000 students representing every state of the nation and more than 100 countries.

Writing Home ~ Postcards from the Edge-ucated

Greetings from Querétaro,

When I first got here, of course I felt homesick and missed my friends and family. But I was quickly taken over by the beauty of the city. There are so many opportunities here to experience—be they at school, in the centro,or at home with my new family. In particular I have found my Mexican mom to be very helpful and caring. She makes sure I have everything I need (especially really good food!) and she is always trying to help me with other aspects of my stay here. I am learning so much here, and the journey has only just begun.

Patty Timmons
Querétaro 2005

January 2005


Hi Friends,

Querétaro is a new old city; new because everything is so different for me. There is so much to do, so much to see. I try to see everything at once. Time is not an issue.

Relaxing outside of class is normal for everyone here. There are people everywhere I go. At first I wondered if people didn't work because no matter what hour of the day it might be people are out walking and enjoying the city.

Erica Dudley
Querétaro 2005


Hi Everyone!

My studies at WMU just ended, and I could not have finished in a better way...I spent my last semester in Spain in the WMU/U de Burgos exchange program. Besides attending Spanish history classes taught by some of the best professors of the department, I learned about Castilla. I visited towns of the Province of Burgos with the family with whom I lived for five months; I learned to fix authentic morcilla burgalesa in a shop in my neighborhood and developed an northern accent to my Castillia Spanish.

What I will carry in my heart forever is the memory of the people, the spectacular countryside, and the unforgetable culture I have come to know.

Lyndsay Gwyther
Burgos 2004

Autumn Leaves

* 2 September. For the first time ever, we offered for sale an official Spanish Department T-shirt, which sold out within a few short weeks. Sara Heil (photo) had the good fortune of obtaining one of the last. We were pretty sure everyone would recognize the design as being Don Quixote, but upon placing a second order with the printer we discovered that the folks there referred to our T-shirt as the "cowboy on horse."

* 11 October. Dr. George Greenia, professor at The College of William and Mary, visited Western at the invitation of the Medieval Institute. He was kind enough to present us with a very interesting talk on the various theories proposed to explain the metrics of the Poem of The Cid.

* 21 October. The musical group Yerba Buena brought its outstandingly innovative musical fare to Miller Auditorium. Its performance and fusion of salsa, American jazz, Caribbean jazz and rap warmed the audience, made the rafters ring and the dancers swing.

Spring Blossoms

* 7 February. The Department looks forward to a visit from Colombian author David Sánchez Juliao, who first came to Western several years ago at the invitation of the university's Distinguished Artists and Scholars Program. It will be a distinct pleasure to welcome this returning friend.

* 17 February. An authentic artistic delight awaits those fortunate enough to have tickets to the concert of Imani Winds with Paquito D'Rivera. Fontana Chamber arts brings to campus five consummate musicians who will perform their original and culturally diverse program beginning at 8 p.m. in Dalton Hall.

* 8 April. Some of the best Spanish students will receive awards and/or scholarships at the department's annual Honors and Awards Day ceremony. It is impossible to recognize all the students who deserve recognition, but it is a joy to be able to honor at least some of them. The best award and reward for all of our students is, of course, to know Spanish.

No Rhyme, No Reason ~ Just Notes

The most interesting office on the fourth floor of Sprau belongs to Professor Michael (Miguel) Braun. It could be mistaken for a travel agency in Madrid if it weren’t for the banners of numerous soccer teams, the small battery-powered cars, the dog with a sign saying "Feed that tale/tail to some other dog", and the magazines for your browsing pleasure. Really, it all begins with the door, which each month displays a puzzle or quiz on diverse topics, most often on Spanish and Spanish American painters. The office/agency/museum is a lively place, for there as well are found the desks of Seidy Flórez, Hedy Habra and Sara Heil, cheerful and talkative instructors who also receive frequent visits from their students, none of whom has ever gone away bored.

Hot off the press is the textbook for Spanish composition Por escrito: De la palabra a la composición, by Jorge Febles and Carolyn Harris, two of our faculty recipients of the prestigious WMU Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence. Word has it that this publication of Pearson Prentice-Hall is selling like hot cakes because of its tasty sentences, delicious paragraphs, easily digestible grammar explanations, and perfect combination of the spicy with the sweet.

Two other professors, Michael Millar and Patricia Montilla, will soon see in print their studies on Spanish American literature. Both Professor Millar's book, Spaces of Representation: The Struggle for Social Justice in Postwar Guatemala, and Professor Montilla's book, Parody, the Avant-Garde, and the Poetics of Subversion in Oliverio Girondo, will be published by Peter Lang.

Mapa de una pasión literaria is the title of a new collection of forty-six essays, reports, book reviews and articles written by Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá for cultural supplements in the Puerto Rican newspaper El nuevo día.. The publisher, Editorial Universitaria de Puerto Rico, made a wise choice when it decided to preface this attractive book with a perceptive analytical introduction by Benjamín Torres of Western Michigan University.

Ph.D. student Nuria Ibáñez received the Graduate College Award for Excellence in Research for 2004. Congratulations to this distinguished student from Burgos.

María Rama received the Graduate College Award for Excellence in Teaching. María completed the M.A. in July and has returned to Galicia where this issue of Somos y Estamos will reach her with our sincere Congratulations.

Professor Mariola Pérez de la Cruz did not teach during fall semester, and for a good reason. She requested a leave of absence to welcome her second son, Javier. Mariola has returned to the classroom for this "spring" semester (remember that winter no longer exists at Western). Congratulations to the mother, the father (Jason) and brother (Alejandro).

From Querétaro comes the good word from Noelia Rodríguez and her husband Rolando that since November 19 they have been the parents of two beautiful daughters, Ania and Ainara. From Kalamazoo we wish them all the best.

The teaching assistant who traveled the longest distance over Christmas break was Andrea Castelluccio, who went to Buenos Aires, where it is mid summer of course.

Lindsey Cherry and Taryn Corrigan have received scholarships to study during "spring" semester at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. In this case we should probably remove the "quotation marks" since even in January it really does feel like spring in Querétaro. Former WMU students who have received scholarships from the UAQ for graduate study in Querétaro include María Rama, Rashi Rama (not related), Melissa Coulter, Kate McCarthy and Corey Thompson.

Spanish is the fashion in the country of fashion. Ismael Aguado and Nivardo Trejo, unforgetable graduates of our M.A. program, are presently both teaching the language of Cervantes in France. Another unforgettable M.A. graduate and non-descript outfielder for the Mambo Kings, Jason Schier, is also in France (he teaches English). In other words, three quality Western exports (from Spain, Mexico, and the US) have headed to France.

Three Quer´taro students are new Ph.D.'s. We have received word that Beatriz Loyola, Itzá Zavala, and Milvet Alonso, all graduates of our M.A. in Spanish at WMU, are now Doctors of Philosophy in Spanish. Beatriz and Itzá studied at the U. of Colorado-Boulder, Milvet at the U. of California-Irvine. Congratulations, doctoras.

Professor Irma López is celebrating her tenth year of teaching and research at Western. It seems longer than that, not because Irma is unpleasant (on the contrary), but because she has done so many things in such a short time. At this moment she is with our students in Querétaro, although she will soon return to campus to teach the classes entrusted to her colleagues for a few weeks.

One summer day Carl Hawkins stopped by to say hello. Carl continues to teach in Maryland, which is to his liking.

Shortly before Christmas Kathy Kaakani came to Sprau with a gift of seasonal goodies, rapidly consumed by her ex-classmates and professors. Kathy is teaching at Portage Central High School. (We hope she will send us some good students, and we know her students will be good).

Aaron Robles, in spite of being under a year old, has made several visits to Sprau this year, accompanied by his father, Abel, and his mother, Santa. (It's never too early for children to come to college).

We have also had visits by other graduates. Gemma Delicado, who will soon finish the Ph.D. at the U. of Chicago, stopped up to see us. (Corey Thompson, also at the U. of Chicago, couldn't make the trip with Gemma, but he writes us from time to time, most recently from Brazil). Gustavo Rodríguez and Angélica Silva (now both Ph.D. students at Michigan State U.) returned to their department in the fall to help us welcome novelist Mayra Montero. Eric Warner, who also studies at MSU while teaching in Flint CC, could not come to the reception for Mayra, but we know he wanted to. Other former M.A. students we have had the pleasure of seeing again are Roberto Robles, Anne McGee and Wilfredo Valentín, all now at the U. of M. in Ann Arbor.

The record for most travel during a sabbatical leave is held by Professor Antonio Isea. After returning to Kalamazoo briefly in late summer following several trips through Venezuela, Colombia and Peru, Antonio found a good fare to Buenos Aires. He did get back in time, barely, to start the fall semester.

In October we crossed paths with Chris Brown, his wife and infant son, at the Caribe Conference in Milwaukee. Chris is close to finishing his Ph.D. at Washington U. en Saint Louis. WMU Spanish graduates Joel Postema, Kate McCarthy and Amjad Majid are also studying at that university.

As she has done in previous years, Stacey Munger (Thiele) has written us from Arizona where, if we remember correctly, she continues to teach Spanish.

We were pleasantly surprised to receive several email notes from former student Charles (Carlos) Pickard, Jr. To be truthful, we do not remember this Spanish enthusiast who graduated from WMU before any of the current faculty were here. Carlos tells us that he has led a productive life over these years and it is obvious that he has greatly enjoyed his frequent stays in several Spanish-speaking countries. Incredibly, this graduate still retains fresh memories of books he read in classes at Western.

Hilda Salinas and Marisa Ochoa also wrote us during 2004. As far as we know, they are both still teaching language and literature in schools in the Querétaro area, although Hilda was exploring some possibilities in Cuernavaca. No doubt they will bring us up to date when they receive this newsletter. Another former student currently teaching in Querétaro is Brenda Chávez, who has emailed us greetings several times this year.

And there are many others who have written -- Leticia Alvira; Scott Bango; Alicia Cabrera; Randall Domeier; Jessica Farmer; Victor Fortezza; Kevin Fuchs, who currently teaches at the U. of Indiana-South Bend; Natalia Gómez, professor at Grand Valley SU; Gabriela García; Smirna García Mahoney (Thanks for the wedding pictures); Genoveva García Gallardo; Corrina Gregg; Veronica Hall, Nohemí Lugo; Iván Martínez, professor at Ball State U; Maureen McGlinchey Ford; Nicole Metcalf; Brent Metz, professor at the U. of Kansas; Barry J. Peters; Derek Repp; María Angeles Saiz; Enrique Santamaría; Javier Saorín; María Simarro; Wally (Matías) Waldemar; Holly Walker-Cote, who teaches at Wayne SU; Nancy Weckel, teacher at Mother McAuley High School in Chicago-- or those who occasionally stop by Sprau (like John Cosby), or those people we have not mentioned here simply because our memory is imperfect. There are many former students who have contact with their professors without some of the rest of us hearing about it -- or we hear about it much later. Please be assured that although the names of those people do not appear in these notes, they are held in the collective memory of the department. We appreciate your emails, your cards, your questions and greetings. Stay in touch, friends.

Somos y Estamos

Publication of the Departent of Spanish
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008-5338
tel 269 387-3023 ~ fax 269 387-3103

Editor: John Benson
Contributors: John Benson
Jorge Febles, Robert Felkel, Irma López
Layout & Design: Elena Gaudio



The Numbers Speak

Fall semester 1994 2004
Classes offered



Full-time faculty



Spanish Majors



Graduate Students (MA or Ph.D.)



Students in Spanish classes



Spanish is thriving at Western!

Where are you? . . . Let us know

The faculty and Elena love to receive emails from former students, even if they are just to ask for a recommendation. Dozens of you send us notes on a more or less regular basis: those who are in Ph.D. programs at other schools; those who are traveling in South America, Europe, Oceania or Africa; those who are teaching somewhere in the wide world; those whose children are already in college; those who have passed through the streets and the classrooms of Querétaro and Burgos; those who no longer remember all the vocabulary they learned here; and others. Thank you for your notes and news. If you would like us to share your news with readers of future newsletters we will do our best to oblige, but in any case we want you to know that we enjoy hearing from you. So please let us know where you are. Can we share your news with other readers?