It was 7:30 am on Saturday, October 27. Wilden Hall de APU began to fill with teachers and students of Spanish and Portuguese language and literature from over 20 universities and colleges of Southern California who came to attend the Fall Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Southern California Chapter (AATSP/SoCal). Visitors were pleasantly impresed by the smile and kindness with which they were received by the more than 30 APU’ student volunteers (SPAN301, SPAN431 and SPAN101) in the event. This was the second time that the Department of Modern Languages of APU has served as host of this academic, literary and cultural event. The first time was during the Spring of 2010.
After a delicious breakfast, attendees were to participate in some of the 20 workshops and lectures by expert teachers in areas of literature, linguistics, pedagogy and new teaching technologies. Dr. Marcela Rojas, Associate Professor of Spanish at APU, and current President of the AATSP/SoCal said, “All attendees were very impressed with the quality of the conferences/presentations, and we agree with them.”
One presentation that caused particular expectation was made by Dr. Armin Schwegler, professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Irvine, who presented the theme “Saving a Language through L2 Teaching: On the Extraordinary Case of Spanish-based Palenquero “. This presentation provided a poignant example where the teaching of a second language (Palenquero, a Spanish-based creole spoken in northern Colombia) has saved a local vernacular from imminent death. In 2005, UNESCO declared the community in question, “Palenque of San Basilio, Colombia, as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of the Humanity.” Palenque is considered the first free town in America. In April of this year, when President Obama was attending to the Summit of the Americas helded in Cartagena, Colombia, he was invited to visit Palenque of San Basilio (one hour from Cartagena) with the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos.
Among other important presentations was the plenary meeting helded by Wiley’s representative, Saddleback College Prof. LeeAnn Stone on “Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools for Developing Spanish Proficency”. Wiley, one of the sponsors of the conference, is considered one of the largest professional publishers and scholarly societies. APU’s presentations were given by Prof. Rojas on “Learning Through Service in Spanish Courses: A Pedagogical Tool”, Prof. María Mayer “Mi amado viene a su huerto”: Conceptos de amor divino en los carmelitas Teresa y Gracián , and Prof. Maximo Rossi Jr and his student Daniel Grussi on “Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar and William Wallace, As Sources of Literaturization of Heroes and Legends.” Of particular interest was the presentation of thirty minutes Quixote, a Film, a production by UCLA Prof. Steven Ritz-Barr, which bring Cervantes masterpiece to life with marionettes created by himself.
Additional to Wiley, the event, which included a buffet lunch in Wilden Hall, it was also sponsored by APU’s Department of Modern Languages and Phi Omicron, APU’s chapter of Sigma Delta Pi Honorary Society.