Julie Hempel, associate professor of Spanish, has been named a Fulbright Scholar and will teach and conduct research in Mexico next year.
“The teaching program is really exciting,” she said. “Even though I know the place very well, I’ve never taught Mexican students in a Mexican university.”
The Fulbright Scholar program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The prestigious program provides funding for 800 scholars nationally to undertake advanced research and teaching abroad.
During her time abroad, Hempel will teach two courses at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, in Querétaro, Mexico. She will teach upper-level literature in English and graduate-level literature in Spanish; both will cover the expressions of Mexican immigrants to the United States and their descendants, known as Mexican-Americans or Chicanos.
In addition, Hempel will translate Hasta el año que viene (“Until the Coming Year”) by Aurora Velasco from Spanish to English. The book is about two indigenous Guatemalan immigrants who travel through Mexico en route to the United States, and has not been published in the United States. She will also write articles and collect research to be used at Austin College upon her return.
Hempel is particularly interested in the stories of Mexican-Americans or Chicanos, and has taught classes on the subject—Difference and Identity on the Border: Una Encrucijada de la Narrativa Contemporánea de Chicanas y Mexicanas and Borderlands/La Frontera—at Austin College.
“Doing initial research for my dissertation in 1999, I conducted reader groups in Querétaro. I found then that their perception of Chicanos was not based on fact but on nationalism or misconceptions,” she said. “I also witnessed this while travelling in Mexico with Chicanos who often struggled to be accepted there. In the past 10 to 15 years, there’s been a growth in interest, tolerance, empathy, and desire to understand the experience of Chicanos.”
She said she is particularly excited about this opportunity because she will be able to teach the Chicano literature that is written in English; when at Austin College, she teaches in Spanish, and therefore primarily uses Spanish-language literature.
Querétaro is in central Mexico, 1,068 miles from Sherman, Texas.
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