Spanish professor’s office reflects ‘museum of life’

Photo courtesy of Baylor University

By Megan Hale | Reporter

Dr. Moisés Park, an assistant professor of Spanish, views his office as a space to display his passions and interests while acting as a reminder of his history and heritage.

“My office reflects my life; it really does,” Park said. “In part, it’s my doctoral years. So anything that I was interested in as a grad student will be here. A lot of textbooks that were formative in my academic upbringing would end up in these bookshelves.”

Park’s primary areas of academic interest lie in Latin American literature and cinema. Growing up in the country of Chile with Korean parents in a predominantly Korean and Palestinian town, Park’s fascination with the study of culture and identity started at a young age.

“Chile for me was very Arab and East Asian because I grew up with Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese businesspeople and families around me — Palestinian Christians, I thought Shawarmas were Chilean and Turkish coffee always brewing around the corner,” Park said. “So in a way, that multicultural society is reflected here [in my office].”

The Chilean and Korean flags hang side by side on his office wall, and a Palestinian soccer jersey is draped by his bookshelves, representing a few of the many eclectic items in Park’s office that reflect his passions and heritage. Many of the items found in his office hold sentimental value and memories, like his vintage record player and childhood guitar. Toys belonging to his three daughters, from legos to dolls, line his bookshelves, along with souvenirs from traveling.

Park said that frequently, the first thing people notice when they walk into his office is the multitude of musical instruments.

“I’m not a music professor, but because the department is languages and cultures, I feature music quite a lot,” Park said.

Guitars of all shapes, sizes and colors cover the walls, each bearing a story and history of its own.

“I have a habit of going to Chile, and every trip, I bring back at least one guitar,” Park said. “They tended to be smaller ones before I even had kids, but travel guitars became the possibility that my daughters would learn how to play guitar. Since I left Chile in 2000, because I immigrated here, I have visited Chile about 10 to 12 times, and from those trips, I’ve brought about eight guitars back.”

Using music as a creative outlet to find joy and process mental health struggles, Park can often be heard playing his instruments in his office throughout the day.

“My first guitar when I was 10 is the one in front of me,” Park said. “It is an Indonesian Yamaha. So it’s a very cheap student guitar, but it’s the only guitar I’ll never trade or sell.”

Park also has various traditional folklore instruments like a pan flute, a charango and a Caribbean güiero displayed in his office.

“It’s because I’m a professor and I teach culture that I ended up collecting these things,” Park said. “I like bringing a lot of these items to my classes. Every instrument at some point has ended up in a classroom, for instance.”

With bookshelves lining his space from floor to ceiling, it is no surprise that literature holds an important place in Park’s life in and out of the classroom.

“I gave my favorite book to my younger sister, who is also a professor,” Park said. “It’s a first edition ‘Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf. It’s an emblematic feminist text. As both of us got tenure the same month, it was meaningful for me to show my appreciation for her and help me realize that what we’re doing is worthwhile and difficult. But she’s a fantastic scholar, and I think she deserved the first edition of such a seminal book.”

Growing up in a religious home in Chile, Park was not surrounded by many books other than the Bible. However, while working in the library as an undergraduate student, his love for literature was born.

“The left side [of my bookshelf] tends to have more academic readings, poetry and critical theory,” Park said. “I have my Christian theology and Christian life collection up in the upper tier there, and then it goes down through Asian-American literature and some classic Korean literature.”

Posters displaying Mexican TV shows, Alfred Hitchcock and “Star Wars” are also tacked on his walls, and his diverse collection of films, spanning many generations and genres, line his shelves.

Growing up watching the Mexican television classic “El Chavo del Ocho,” Park learned to appreciate film and developed a great admiration for the show’s writer, Roberto Gómez Bolaños.

Park also greatly admires film director Charlie Chaplin, as seen by the poster of Chaplin’s film entitled “The Great Dictator,” which hangs on his office wall.

“[Chespirito’s] humor is both physical but also a deep meditation of poverty and what it means to belong somewhere,” Park said. “So a lot of Chileans grew up watching this Mexican TV show. It’s a great way to connect with Mexican folks.”

Park also claims a deep fascination with “The Wizard of Oz.”

“‘The Wizard of Oz’ is responsible for my disbelief as a young Christian — that I thought Christianity was a man behind the curtain, that it was all orchestrated for us not to think about other issues,” Park said. “But as a grown person, I realized that it can mean many other things about hiding your true self and facing a society that tells you how to be.”

Park said his office reflects his life both academically and personally.

“It’s a museum of who I am,” Park said. “I have many times thought of purging many items, and I think it’s a joy of figuring out what things I want, I need and what I simply want to display. It’s a mixture of a man cave plus a vocation that I love, which is literature and culture, as well as what I read and study.”