READING DON QUIXOTE was for me a professional experience of a lifetime. I have always been a consummate student. One book leads to another, one question leads to others. Unfortunately I am somewhat isolated geographically and appreciated the opportunity to meet with 14 other colleagues and one awesome instructor to discuss this work and related readings. Professor Fajardo guided us into a very detailed and precise reading of this work. I believe that the way he and ultimately we approached the text has given me new tools and views of all reading materials. As a teacher I have a new appreciation for difficult readings and some interesting techniques to bring back to my classroom. As a scholar, I now have a focus on how to carefully read texts. As a scholar, I realize I am not alone. I have new friends to share literature. As a scholar, I have reaffirmed my zeal for Spanish literature. By studying the QUIXOTE I now see how this one text leads to so many other Spanish works of literature and hope to one day continue with another NEH seminar and apply what I learned in NY to other Spanish works.
My experience at the seminar was extremely rewarding personally and professionally. I was able to interact with colleagues of my same discipline as well as with others from different areas of specialization. We were given many opportunities to exchange ideas and opinions in class and during the varied extracurricular activities. All ideas and opinions were received in an atmosphere of collegial warmth. I personally felt very comfortable and accepted in the group. I was able to initiate my plan for my unit on the Quijote for my students after some conversations with other participants. The seminar allowed me to create the blueprint of what I will be doing with my students this academic year. It was an outstanding experience, and it will have an important impact on what I do in the future as a teacher and learner.
Dr. Fajardo was a dream of a director. He made sure that all our needs were met, surpassing expectation. When there was a problem, he made sure that it was addressed and resolved to the utmost satisfaction. He scheduled visits from colleagues, experts in their fields to address the group and add to the conversation. I learned about the political atmosphere in the area and about other areas of literature from them. From the participants, I was given an array of presentation styles and ideas which were very impressive. The conversations always wound around the Quijote, but the tangential topics were very interesting and illuminating as well. Our meetings were scheduled with thought to how much material we had to cover in the amount of time that we had at our disposal and the discussions pertained completely to that end. One of my goals was to read the Quijote from cover to cover and that’s what I did. The discussions also helped me to give me more understanding and context of what I read. Lastly, the activities were planned to include all participants in the cultural and community life of Binghamton University. Dr. Fajardo and his wife, Lisa, made me feel included and valued in all aspects of the program.
This was an absolutely wonderful and refreshing experience! I haven’t had the chance to participate in literary analysis at this level in years. The contributions of other participants were very worthwhile. While I don’t directly teach this novel in beginning level classes, the background it gave me in Spanish history and culture will be shared with my students. Doing this seminar certainly increased my level of professional scholarship.
Last Updated: 2/15/11