In January 2020, A&S welcomed our second visiting scholars from USFQ - Professor Alejandra Zambrano - who will be on campus through May. Zambrano is teaching a class on Latin American children's literature and an Intermediate Spanish class. (Learn about previous USFQ visiting scholars here).
Zambrano is a Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at USFQ and also runs, La Poderosa Media Project, a nonprofit organization that encourages youth autonomy, cultural empathy, and collaborative learning through community-based arts program in the Americas. She holds a PhD in Latin American Literature from The University of Texas at Austin.
Zambrano appreciates the opportunity to be in a different environment and the chance to do research at UK which has extensive resources and multiple libraries. “The class that I’m teaching now (Latin American Children’s Literature) is a class I’ve never taught before,” Zambrano said. “It’s exciting to have that opportunity. It forced me to do more research, and I like those challenges. I like to teach at least one new class a year.”
“One thing I’m enjoying the most is that my students are telling me what they used to read when they were little kids,” Zambrano said. “One student just brought me a book from interlibrary loan, a horror short story collection that I’m not familiar with. This is nice because it’s expanding my knowledge and I’m learning about their experiences, which complements my research.”
Zambrano was already familiar with UK, having attended the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (KFLC) in 2009 and 2010. She will present at this year’s conference on her research into Ecuadorian catechisms of the 19th century, a popular method of educational instruction in Latin America at the time. She is also currently finishing the script for a documentary featuring her connection to the ocean, writing two children’s books, and working on an article comparing U.S. and Ecuadorian catechisms and their impacts on children’s understanding of their nations.
Zambrano’s non-profit teaches kids and teenagers in vulnerable communities how to write and produce short films. La Poderosa’s projects are mainly in Ecuador and Chile, but the collective has also worked in the United States, Panama, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. The program has expanded to include literature, theater and photojournalism and also provides pedagogical training for teachers-artists across the Americas. Recently, the Ecuadorian Institute for Film and Audiovisual Creation (ICCA) hired her team to design curriculum for national film clubs in high schools.
In terms of the UK-USFQ partnership, Zambrano sees the potential of USFQ graduates coming to UK for master’s or doctorate degrees. Connections made through the faculty exchange can also benefit students, she said. “Students are always interested in continuing studies, so for us, we can become mediators. Saying, ‘I’ve been there, I know the people,’ and helping our students through the process.” UK students also have the opportunity to study abroad at USFQ through the Education Abroad office.
Four A&S faculty will teach for a semester each in Quito - Yanira Paz of Hispanic Studies, Rusty Barrett of Linguistics, Renee Bonzani of Anthropology, and Liang Luo of MCL/Chinese Studies.