Student Activity Spotlight: Spanish Literature Club
February 7, 2019 | By Kimberly Uslin
Carolina Elizondo Moya (A21) is a native of Monterrey, Mexico and leads the Spanish Literature Club on St. John’s Annapolis campus.
How did you become involved with the Spanish Literature Club?
I’m Latin-American myself, so I always read a lot of Hispanic literature. My roomie was one of the organizers last year when it [focused on] Spanish poetry. I used to go every once in a while. The organizers from last year are all juniors now and they couldn’t make it anymore, so they asked me to do it.
Like in any other study group, it’s nice to read something outside of the Program and discuss it with people. When I’m here [on campus], I don’t have time or I’m already doing too much stuff to read something in my mother tongue. We’re trying to read things that are really interesting.
A big plus of the club is former tutor Mr. [Nick] Maistrellis. He retired, but still lives around here. He goes to almost every meeting. He always brings up deep conversations. Of course, he has a better grasp and a better understanding of the things that are going on in the short stories. It’s really pleasant to have conversation with him.
What are you reading?
Last semester, the main project was [Jorge Luis] Borges’ Ficciones. We read the first part, El jardín de senderos que se bifurcan, and we intermixed it with different poems from [Federico García] Lorca, or Borges, or [Pablo] Neruda. This year, we’re doing the second part, Artificios, and we don’t want to do that many poems. We’re going to intermix it with short stories and plays from other authors—Mario Benedetti, [Gabriel] García Márquez, maybe also some poems by Octavio Paz.
How did you decide on Ficciones?
I got it from a friend in the summer. I thought it was a good idea because [the stories] are short. They’re easy to read; they’re not easy to understand. So you can go and read it over the weekend, but the conversation is interesting.
Ficciones is really philosophical, so it’s really connected to the Program and is really interesting. But it’s dense and hard to read. Most of the short stories do not have characters or plots. They seem like open discourses of thought. Some of the main themes or subjects are infinity, time, space, the infinity of time and space and principal causes. There are many that talk about fate.
I read it in Spanish. I always bring the copy along so I can reference passages. I’ve read parts, but I haven’t read a full short story in English. [Borges] uses complicated language, even in Spanish. I’m not confident enough reading it in English.
Does the club offer an opportunity to communicate in Spanish?
There are about six people in the group. We fluctuate from meeting to meeting from four to six. There are only two students that are completely fluent, but Mr. Maistrellis and two other members have a good grasp of Spanish. Sometimes, some people are really interested in learning Spanish as a language rather than just reading Borges, so we will read the short stories out loud in Spanish.
For example, there’s [one student who] wants to be a linguist, so he in general practices a bunch of languages. He would be one of the members who would be interested in reading the stories in Spanish to learn the pronunciation, to practice vocabulary.
And then, when it’s only him and someone else who wants to learn Spanish, we will have conversations in Spanish. It depends who comes. Otherwise, it’s like any other study group.
What are your future plans for the group?
It will be nice if a few more people join. If there are too many people, we’ll get lost in the conversation. But it would be nice to have more members. My hope is just to keep doing it and to continue to enjoy reading Hispanic authors.