Department News

March 2018     Congratulations to our Spanish scholarship recipients for 2018-2019!


Three College of Saint Benedict Hispanic Studies majors were recently awarded the Sister Renée Domeier Scholarship for Spanish for 2018-2019. The students are (left to right above) Gysselle Cortez-Hernandez '19, Kayla Albers '20, and Anile Morales-Robles '19. Congratulations, Gysselle, Kayla and Anile!

The Sister Renée Domeier Scholarship for Spanish is available on an annual basis for Hispanic Studies majors enrolled at the College of Saint Benedict. Applications are accepted in the spring and are open to CSB majors who will be juniors or seniors the following fall. Recipients are chosen on the basis of scholarship, strength of academic purpose, and financial need. More information on the scholarship can be found here.

March 2018     Congratulations to Christina Mougoyanni Hennessy for promotion to full professor! 

December 2017     Virgen de Guadalupe

On December 12, a special mass was held in Spanish at Sacred Heart Chapel at Saint Benedict's Monastery to celebrate the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 1531, the Virgen de Guadalupe appeared in Tepeyac (now a suburb of Mexico City) to Juan Diego, an indigenous Nahuatl speaker. Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego four times, performing several miracles, and instructed him to build a shrine in her honor, which has become one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is a symbol of Mexican identity, and of church unity across the Americas.

This event was organized by Campus Ministries, and co-sponsored by the Spanish Club and Hispanic Studies Department.

November 2017     Culture in the Language Classroom

Does culture really belong in foreign language classes? If so, what should the cultural components consist of? On November 9, Dr. Blair Bateman, guest speaker from Brigham Young University, visited campus and addressed those questions with a focus on:

  • The definition of Culture as defined by the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages
  • Why is culture important in a “multicultural world”?
  • How the activities and assessment help us better understand other cultures  

You can watch a video recording of the lecture here.

The lecture was funded by the Department of Hispanic Studies and the CSB/SJU Spanish Club.

October 2017     MCTLC Fall Conference

CSB/SJU faculty members from Hispanic Studies, Education and Languages and Cultures attended the fall conference of the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures in Brooklyn Park, MN on Friday, October 27. Pictured left to right are Christina Hennessy and Tania Gómez (HS), Allison Spenader (Educ) and Ana Conboy (French/L&C). The four colleagues presented a panel called "Bilingualism and the Brain: The Benefits of Learning Another Language.”

October 2017     Día de los Muertos

On October 19, members of Hispanic Studies, ELAC (Exploring Latin American Cultures), Spanish Club, and Campus Ministries held a ceremony and decorated an altar in preparation of Day of the Dead. Participants met outside Clemens Library for a procession into the library, where they had a brief ceremony and decorated the altar. The altar will stay up in Clemens until November 2, and people are invited to place photos or other mementos on the altar of loved ones who have passed away.

Day of the Dead altar

Student participants with Prof. Emily Kuffner (third from right).

Spring 2017    Guatemala study abroad students take weaving classes with support from the Vera Theisen Cultural Enrichment Fund

Several students from #CSBSJU #guatemala 2017 study abroad group participated in a 10-hour weaving course @tramatextiles. They each made a beautiful woven scarf. This project was paid for by the Cultural Enrichment Fund in Honor of Professor Vera Theisen. A Special thank you to our teachers Oralia and Amparo for sharing their skill and patience with us as we learned. 

Trama Textiles is a women's weaving association that emerged from the 36-year armed conflict. In the early 1980's the conflict was escalated by the Guatemalan military (and the US through its arms sales), which resulted in the genocide of over 200,000 indigenous people. Many Maya women, mostly from the highlands of Guatemala, were left without a spouse, with children and with no income source to support their families. It was difficult to find work that did not take the women away from the home and the daily tasks of growing their food. Weaving allowed for women to stay in their communities and work. Today there are 400 women in the association who make woven textiles, which are then finished into beautiful products. When the women deliver their finished products to Trama Textiles they are paid directly and in the very moment. The members of the cooperative also describe how coming together to weave began to help them heal emotionally and physically. The trauma from the violence transformed as they came together to talk and create. The organization is run by two Maya women who continue to provide support to each community throughout the highlands in the form of capacity building and quality control. These two women also teach the weaving classes to hundreds of people each year. They are amazing. The fees for weaving classes go directly to running the organization because every penny from the products goes to the women weavers. You too can come to Guatemala and take a weaving class at just like the CSB|SJU students did during their semester study abroad.

“I wanted to weave because I wanted to understand what life was like for the indigenous in Guatemala—the woven textiles are an integral part of the culture. The back-strap style and method of weaving was particularly tense at first, but it grew to be one of my go-to’s to relax and have a fun time. When I first started to undergo the process, my muscles were screaming because they were not used to the position; however, as time went on, I felt more comfortable with the tools and materials at my disposal. In addition to that, I had the resources of the two experienced teachers at Trama Textiles as well as my peers who all were in the same position as me. Overall, I felt that by participating in the weaving class, I was able to achieve more and reach greater heights in the comprehension of language, history, and culture of Guatemala.” --John Nguyen '19

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