By Julia Shands
OBU News Service
ARKADELPHIA —Dr. Jerusa Carvajal, assistant professor of Spanish at Ouachita Baptist University, was a guest speaker during The Park School of Baltimore’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in October. Hosted by the Spanish section of the school’s modern language department, Carvajal gave a cultural presentation on Ecuador, her homeland, and lectured on Latin American literature written by women.
Located in the Baltimore suburb of Brooklandville, Md., The Park School is a private day school for students in pre-K through grade 12. Carvajal’s background well-prepared her to play an important role in the school’s celebration, which was held to highlight and emphasize the culture, traditions and contributions of the Latino community.
“I am Hispanic-Ecuadorian, I speak and teach Spanish, and I am a Hispanic woman with an academic degree,” Carvajal said. “These were the aspects of my background that were most attractive to the Modern Language department at Park School. It was important to them that students learn firsthand from an academic Hispanic woman.”
“Dr. Carvajal’s expertise has been a blessing for the Spanish major and the Department of Language and Literature at Ouachita,” said Jennifer Burkett Pittman, acting department chair. “Her research informs her teaching, creating an engaging classroom experience for her students. I’m thrilled that she was able to share this experience, and Ouachita, with the students at the Park School of Baltimore.”
Carvajal’s master class focused on Latin American women authors who want to write about women in Latino societies underrepresented in literature.
“Through literature,” she said, “minorities find a voice to make their experiences known to society and give the reader the opportunity to find new meanings and interpretations that vindicate those without a voice.”
During Carvajal’s three-day visit, she spent time with several classes attended by students with varying levels of Spanish proficiency.
“The atmosphere in the classrooms was a relaxed and friendly environment where students willingly participated and were very receptive,” Carvajal said.
While at Park School of Baltimore, Carvajal said she learned as she taught others.
“My visit to Park was an event that brightened my fall semester,” Carvajal noted. “It was a productive time where I grew both professionally and personally. I was happy to be a positive role model to younger students, and I would gladly accept another invitation from them in the future.”