If you live in Iowa, there are plenty of professional Spanish immersion opportunities at your fingertips. There’s the Tete-a-Tete Workshop at the University of Iowa (usually in February), the Café Latino at Grandview University (typically March), and the Immersion Retreat at Simpson College (usually in the summer, July I believe). Fellow Iowans can checking out future events at IWLA’s Events site. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to take advantage of any of these opportunities in my four years as an Iowan…. until this year!
This weekend’s Café Latino, El Amor Latino Argentino, appears to have everything I look for when I look over conference sessions: it is in Spanish, it is about a cultural topic I knew nothing about until I began preparing for the event, and ample resources are provided that I could utilize in my classroom. As the name suggests, we will be studying all things Argentina. It appears that in particular we will be studying the desaparecidos and atrocities that happened in the 70s. In order to prepare, we watched La Historia Oficial and read The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival by Alicia Partnoy. The movie is about a lady who finds out her daughter was illegally adopted, that her daughter was snatched away from the mother (a desaparecido), and that her husband knew about the whole thing. The novel is about Partnoy’s experiences as a desaparecido herself, and the cruelties and torture she endured. While engaged in both resources, I kept thinking about how similar yet different what happened in Argentina is/was to what happened in Cambodia around the same time frame. I have a childhood friend from Cambodia, and the Cambodian genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge has always interested me because of this. I also thought it would provide a great juxtaposition to students’ studies of WWII if timing would work out.
I hope to write a follow-up post, sharing any additional resources. In the mean time, feel free to look over the syllabus for the event.