Students help write Spanish poetry book with Baylor professor

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By Jennifer Smith | Reporter

Baylor Spanish Professor, Moisés Park has spent his time at Baylor encouraging students to incorporate art into their foreign language studies. As a multicultural and multilingual professor, he said he has found movies, songs and books help him learn foreign languages easier. To help further his student’s studies, he collaborated with them to write poems that would later be published in Park’s own Spanish poetry book, “Y el verso ce al aula.”

Park grew up in Chile with his two Korean parents, and he said learning languages was inevitably part of his life. Park’s native tongue is Spanish, and, according to him, learning English was one of the most difficult things he has ever done. In fact, Park said it was so difficult that he almost gave up on the language for good until he discovered the American arts.

“I wanted to quit and give up. It took finally understanding what Queen, Nirvana, and Aretha Franklin songs meant to truly grasp the language,” Park said.

This opened a new door for Park, and a new way to learn. Park initially got the idea to help his students learn Spanish through poetry after reading through their writing on tests.

“When my students would write compositions, the limitation of words forced them to write things that turned out to be very poetic,” Park said. “I started to collect some of it, and these are not assignments, they’re things that organically happen in the classroom.”

Interesting enough, Park said his book was conceptualized through the death of Carrie Fisher, known as Princess Leah from “Star Wars.”

“The cinematic experience that is ‘Star Wars’ really made me realize how much I appreciate the arts,” Park said. “Even when I’m teaching the dense stuff like syntax and grammar, it can be artistic. I think her [Carrie Fisher] death made me want to honor student’s creativity.”

Park’s students also appreciate his love for the arts. San Antonio senior Beatriz Castillo found Spanish much easier to learn when exploring the language in artistic ways.

“Art is what helps us connect with other people,” Castillo said. “One of the biggest goals of studying a new language is to be able to connect with the people who speak it, and by studying their art, there is more to connect us to them.”

Not only did the Spanish arts help Castillo learn the language, but she said it also gave her a more profound meaning of the culture and Hispanic heritage.

“It really tells you about who the people are, what they value most and what they find abominable,” Castillo said. “It helps us feel the emotions that so many people of that culture feel. By studying poetry and other arts, we can for a short period of time become part of this big culture.”

The creation of this Spanish poetry book has given these students another way to celebrate Hispanic Hertiage Month, that started September 15.

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