Olé, the Spanish newsletter - Issue 2

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Issue 2 | February 24th, 2016

Please visit Issue 1

Welcome back alumni sign

Lecture Series

Fall 2015 - Preparing for a post-conflict Colombia: Writing Trauma and the Challenges of Translating it

Winter 2016 - Traces:  Voices of Survivors

The Magic of Ecuador! - Read one student's experience.

Sign saying course offeringsWe are delighted to announce two new course offerings this year.

What's new with us?

Department Events - Check back often to see what we are up to!

The Spanish Society - Our student group is always planning fun, social events.

What's new with you?

It's always great to hear from alumni. We'd love to know what you are up to, so please send an email to Emma Courlander.


Share Your Story:

Daniella Quarrey, Class of 2014.

Daniella Quarrey graduated in Fall 2014 with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in International Development and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies.  She is currently living in the Amazon jungle working at the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute helping foster sustainable development for cacao and coffee crops as a research assistant for bio-protection of tropical crops.

We invite you to read an article by Daniella published in Alternatives Journal entitled "Agricultural Institutes Are Driving Sustainable Chocolate Production in Peru."

Rebecca Janzen, Class of 2007.

Rebecca Janzen is now Assistant Professor of Spanish at Bluffton University. She received an MA and PhD from the University of Toronto (2009, 2013). Her research focuses on Mexican literature and culture, with special attention to religion, gender and disability studies. Her first book, The National Body in Mexican Literature: Collective Challenges to Biopolitical Control, was published in 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan. The book analyzes representations of sick, disabled, and miraculously healed bodies in Mexican novels and short stories from 1940-1980. It shows that the representation of the body reflects the oppression by the State and the Church, and how, when allusions to a collective are considered, the body becomes a site for building resistance to that oppression.

Her new project, “Liminal Sovereignty: Mennonites and Mormons in Mexican Popular Culture”, examines two religious minorities in Mexican and borderlands film, television, archival agrarian documents, webcomics, and photography. As part of this work she has been awarded a DF Plett Historical Research Foundation grant and the C. Henry Smith Peace Scholarship. Through this scholarship she will be giving a series of lectures at Conrad Grebel University College (January 20, 2016), Bluffton University (February) and Goshen College (March) in Spring 2016. These lectures examine a series of photographs on Mexican immigration documents and argues that they tell two stories: one, that the Mexican government believed about Mennonites and Mormons, and the other, what the Mennonites and Mormons felt comfortable sharing with the world.

Lecture Series - Fall 2015

Picture of a pencil surrounded by flagsOur Fall 2015 lecture,Preparing for a post-conflict Colombia: Writing Trauma and the Challenges of Translating it”, was given by Dr. Andrés Arteaga, Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Dr. Arteaga talked about the steps and challenges of producing and translating post-trauma narrative. He conducted a writing workshop for women who had suffered from the war in Colombia. The result was a collection of testimonial short stories that will be part of a bilingual publication (Spanish/English).  The presentation addressed, on the one hand, the evolution of the authors' creative process, and the psychological elements that were at stake for them when they wrote about their traumatic experiences. On the other hand, the difficult task of translators working on trauma narratives was discussed in regards to the challenges encountered in both sensitive content and colloquial language. Some samples of original texts in Spanish and their translations into English were presented in order to discuss the editorial endeavor of balancing faithfulness to the writers’ testimonies (i.e. how they remember their past) and language accuracy regarding syntax and plot structure (i.e. how they express their trauma). At the end of the presentation, Dr. Arteaga invited attendees to discuss their perception and reception of original and translated texts.

Lecture Series - Winter 2016

We are delighted to announce that this year's Winter lecture Series was given by Professor María del Carmen Sillato, Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, University of Waterloo.

'Traces:  Voices of Survivors'

 Professor María del Carmen Sillato gave a presentation of the book Front Cover of the book TracesTraces which is a collection of short stories and poems written by ex-political prisoners of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. The book is framed within the context of a research project conducted by Professor Sillato on the therapeutic role of creative writing in the aftermath of traumatic events. Professor Sillato was be joined by Juan Miranda, author of one of the stories, and translator Joan Shnier. Mr. Miranda provided a historical background of the Argentina of those years and talked about his own experience at the ESMA clandestine detention center. Ms. Shnier discussed the challenges of translating the book, originally in Spanish, into English

Sharing Knowledge Series - Presentation One, Fall 2015

Carlos Siri joined María del Carman Sillato and the SPAN 350 (The Poetry of the Tango) students for a presentation entitled:

 “El tango: expresión de la identidad cultural argentina” 

Picture of a man and a woman Tango dancingCarlos Siri was born in Argentina and grew up listening to tango music.  He moved to Canada in 2000 and has been promoting the development of a Tango community in the tri-cities area since 2005, by organizing dances, performances, tango workshops and teaching.  During the presentation, Carlos Siri talked about his passion for the Tango and why the Tango is such as integral part of Argentinean cultural identity.  He shared his personal experiences as a Tango instructor and discussed the Tango in Argentina today.  He also performed some beautiful Tango with his dancing partner.

Originating in Buenos Aires, Argentine Tango transmits a passionate dance involving improvisation, connection and energy that is exchanged between two people.

Sharing Knowledge Series - Presentation Two, Fall 2015Image of three overlapping circles.  One saying Can Translate, another Want to Freelance and the third saying Want to Translate

Joan Shnier, MA, MBA, C. Translator, Certified Member of ATIO and the American Translators Association, joined Monica Leoni and the SPAN 390 (Introduction to Spanish Business Translation) students for a presentation entitled:

 “The View from the Trenches: Freelance Translating Told Like It Is”

In her presentation Joan provided the students with an in-depth perspective on what it takes to be a translator.  She outlined resources, associations and networking opportunities to help students plan their future, and make the most of their education.

New Course Offerings

This academic year we were delighted to be able to offer two new courses.

SPAN 350Picture of a couple dancing surrounded by text, The Poetry of the Tango was offered in Fall 2015 and received with great interest.

This course examines the poetic value of tango lyrics as an authentic merger of the learned and the popular poetry. The poetic aspects of tango from its birth at the turn of the twentieth century to the present, with special attention to the so called "golden age of tango" (1940) are explored.

Picture of text and artSPAN 150, The Hispanic World Through Literature and the Arts is currently being offered and enjoyed by many students.

This course will study Hispanic cultures as represented in their literature, film, and visual arts with particular attention to issues of race, gender, sexuality, and cultural and national identity.


The Ontario Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP-ON) celebrated its Annual Conference on November 7th, 2015 at Wilfrid Laurier University.  The Organizing Committee had the support of the Department of Languages and Literatures of the host institution. Participants came from several Ontario universities, and presented on topics related to Spanish language pedagogy, Spanish linguistics, and Hispanic cultures and literatures  The 2015 Conference Guest Speaker was Dr. María del Carmen Sillato, University of Waterloo, who presented on the Poetry of Tango.  The AATSP-ON Board of Directors, in consultation with members and Dr. Victoria Wolff, announced that the 2016 Annual Conference will be held at the University of Western Ontario.

Chérine Stevula (Class  of 2015), participated in the Conference:-

"I presented on Hispanic Canadian youths in the Canadian Education System.  Participating in a conference is a highly rewarding experience and something I strongly recommend to anyone interested in graduate studies,  particularly those who plan on pursuing a career in academia or research.  It has certainly been one of the greatest highlights in my academic career.  At first, the idea of presenting a paper in front of an audience was terrifying to me and so the experience has definitely helped me overcome this fear.  But the truth is, none of this would have possible without my degree in Spanish and the experience I gained teaching Spanish at the undergraduate level.  Looking back, studying Spanish was simply an afterthought, I was actually studying French to get into teaching.  I have since graduated with a Joint Honors Degree in French and Spanish from the University of Waterloo.  I am currently pursuing a Masters degree in Latin American Caribbean and International Development Studies at the University of Guelph.  So not only has Spanish allowed me to participate in the AATSP Conference, but it has broadened my opportunities for further studies and participation in other similar conferences around the world.  Most importantly, my participation in conferences has allowed me to make some of the most important contacts in my network of professional relationships and lasting friendships to date".

Our Outstanding Students!

Sign saying Awards and ScholarshipsAnnual Spanish and Portuguese Fall Gathering 2015 - As everyone knows, we love to celebrate and recognize our students' achievements.  Each year we gather in November to mark the successes of students at various points in our program.  It is a wonderful moment for us to recognize the hard work of our students, and it also gives us the opportunity to meet students just starting off in our program!  Every decision we make, and every plan we set in motion is driven by our desire to provide our students with the best experience possible.  Celebrating your successes makes it all worth it!!

The Magic of Ecuador!

Rachel Bennett, this year's winner of the J.C. McKegney Memorial Award, which is awarded annually to third or fourth year student in the Faculty of Arts who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance and/or extracurricular interests in the Hispanic area, writes of her experiences in Ecuador.

Convocation Fall 2015

We are delighted to congratulate our recent graduates.Picture of a graduation hat and scroll  We are extremely proud of you!

Trevor Stehouwer,  Honours Spanish – French Minor

Kaila Frostad, Honours Therapeutic Recreation – Spanish Minor – Co-operative Program

Frances Salaveria, Honours Physics - Spanish Minor - Co-operative Program