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All-Spanish writing forum inspires creativity among the student body

Maria del Pilar Melgarejo, Lecturer of Spanish, spearheaded the creation of an all-Spanish, open-forum creative journal called Tertulia. Together with Dedman Scholars Emory McDowell and Tyler McCall, as well as Allison Kim, Will Boyce, Creyton Hunt and many other contributors, the journal’s first volume has seen success and Professor Melgarejo is gearing up for the next volume.

Maria del Pilar Melgarejo

Describe the inspiration which led to the creation of Tertulia.

Tertulia is an annual academic journal committed to promote a creative space for students in the Spanish Area of the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Southern Methodist University. The aim of the journal is to showcase students’ pieces and give them an opportunity to share their work with a wider academic, social, and creative community. Tertulia supports high standards of scholarship in Spanish and encourages students to embrace the journal as a public forum. The journal accepts submissions in Spanish from a broad range of subjects and formats, including critical essays, creative writing, interviews, and the visual arts, among others.

How have the students received the opportunity to contribute to the forum?

Students have been excited and open to share their work. They are very surprised that there is a space like that for them and in Spanish! Is the opportunity to not only share their work, improve their CV adding the publication to it, but also contribute to the Spanish speaking community in general.

What is your long-term vision for Tertulia?

Our long-term vision for Tertulia is to become more and more a public forum for our SMU students and contribute to the Spanish speaking community in general. Is all about Creation, Connection and having a vision for a future full of possibilities. Together what we can do is infinite and incredible. I am so so proud of these students and I hope we have more and more submissions each time. Our students are eager to share and this is what we are here to do.

Students Tyler McCall, Creyton Hunt, Allison Kim, and Will Boyce have already contributed to the forum.

What has inspired you to create literature in the Spanish language?

Tyler McCallTyler: I was inspired to write this essay because the themes I saw in these works of patriarchal domination and the use of societal constructs like honor to oppress women are still very present in our world today. Though the standards applied to women regarding honor may not be as stringent in the 21st century as they were in the 20th century, these struggles still exist today, and I felt strongly about exploring these themes.

Creyton: I have received wonderful support from the professors at SMU encouraging me to share my thoughts and express my perspectives through writing. I have enjoyed studying the works of authors such as Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez and it feels neat to contribute my own works of Spanish literature.Allison Kim

Allison: When I first started learning Spanish, I would always be surprised when I could carry a conversation with a native speaker. I saw this most clearly volunteering at the front desk of Watermark Urgent Care, a free clinic for the uninsured, where I greeted patients and helped them check in. Being able to communicate creatively with Spanish speakers and other students has been my inspiration for getting involved with Tertulia.

Will: I’m certainly no expert, but writing in Spanish (for class or for Tertulia) has always forced me to think more intentionally about what I’m researching or writing, since the words don’t come as naturally to me as they do in English. As far as what has inspired any writing, I’ve done – I would truthfully say the phenomenal Spanish faculty at SMU. During my time in the program, I had almost exclusively fantastic experiences, as every faculty member I encountered went above and beyond to enrich my study of the language and the culture. Profesora Melgarejo is a prime example, creating a journal that gives students an outlet to interact with the Spanish-speaking world directly.

What does this forum bring to the SMU community? 

Tyler: Tertulia provides a valuable opportunity for SMU students to share their work and ideas with the greater academic community and their peers. Having access to this forum will provide more venues for SMU Spanish students to expand their academic potential and achievement outside of the classroom.

Creyton HuntCreyton: Tertulia serves as a forum where many students who are still learning the Spanish language can try their hands as the author. Students can contribute their own creative works to foster an environment of creativity and expression about the Spanish culture they are studying.

Allison: Tertulia gives students a forum to write a poem, essay, or article in a creative way that showcases the Spanish language. Already through my article published in Tertulia, I have seen readership from the U.S., Argentina, Peru, and France. The forum gives the SMU community an opportunity to connect with the world.Will Boyce

Will: I think the forum fits in perfectly with SMU’s position as a university with a history tied to the American Southwest. Hopefully, with Tertulia, students from SMU and other schools in the region will have the opportunity to publish Spanish-language pieces of various types, allowing them to connect with this region in particular as well as other Spanish-speaking cultures throughout the world. Additionally, I think it could serve to enrich the experience of the SMU Spanish student, as it could potentially become a classroom resource for Spanish classes at SMU. It really is a unique opportunity for students looking to progress beyond grammar exercises and vocabulary lists. Read the full article.