This kind of experience can't be found in the classroom.
This summer, I was a recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities and Social Sciences Grant. For eight weeks, I collaborated with Lycoming College Spanish professor Dr. Sandra Kingery to translate Mexican author Xanath Caraza’s novel, Pulsación, a collection of twenty-five short stories, from Spanish to English. When people ask me about my work with Sandy, my immediate response is that she changed my life. I may joke and say that she broke me and made me never be able to read Spanish again without trying to translate it, but I know she has taught me so much. She taught me how to truly read Spanish and to be able to understand and interpret it. More so, she granted me a new lens to read English, too, which in return makes me a better writer in both languages.
Beyond the technical skills I learned, Sandy also taught me about life and culture; through translating these stories we were able to discuss climbing Machu Picchu, touring China, and admiring the beautiful city of glass in Venice, Italy. This novel is full of stories of the author’s travels and it really helped prepare me for my future travels in Europe as I am studying abroad in Spain for the semester. My favorite line of the novel summarizes my experience with Sandy:
“Sometimes we travel away from ourselves, there are travelers who are never present on the land they tread, sometimes we aren’t even present in our own lives, there are other people who run away from themselves when they travel…how is it that a journey makes us confront them, our own lives? But maybe, and only maybe, this is the magic of journeys, the confrontation with one’s self.”
My summer experience studying and translating contemporary Mexican prose has truly transformed me and reaffirms my passion for Spanish and my hopes to one day translate professionally. I’m so thankful for Sandy and everything she’s given through our experiences together.