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Prof. Jiménez Honored by Jalisco, Mexico

Francisco Jiménez, the Fay Boyle Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Santa Clara University, will be honored by the Governor’s Office of the State of Jalisco, Mexico, at the Adobe Lodge on October 13, 2009, at 7 p.m. During the ceremony, government officials will formally present the new Jalisco Government publication of Jiménez’s first two autobiographical novels in a single-volume, special edition.

“On this momentous occasion, I warmly welcome the officials from the Governor’s Office of the State of Jalisco, Mexico, as they honor Francisco Jiménez,” said Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “I am grateful for the role that Professor Jiménez has played on our campus, not only as an internationally acclaimed author, but as a gifted teacher and scholar as well.”

The government decided to publish the special edition “not only because of the literary value of the book, but because of the living testimony that it is for all the people,”  according to the Minister of Culture of Jalisco, Jesús Alejandro Cravioto Lebrija, who wrote a preface to the new edition and is scheduled to be at the presentation. The publication, titled Cajas de Cartón y Senderos Fronterizos, contains a special introduction by Emilio González Márquez, governor of Jalisco, in which he lauds Jiménez’s struggles, hard work, and continuing success as an inspirational tale of hope for people on both sides of the border.

The novels (originally published in English as The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child in 1997 and the sequel Breaking Through in 2001) chronicle the tribulations and triumphs of Jiménez as an immigrant child in the United States, from the time he first crossed the border with his family at age four to his matriculation at Santa Clara University. Both books have been translated into several languages and have won numerous literary awards, including the Americas Award and the William Allen White Children’s and Young Adult Book Award.

Although the books tell the specifics of his life, Jiménez sees them as a chronicle of the immigrant experience in general. “This honor is not about me. By honoring my work, the government of Jalisco is really paying tribute to the people who are represented in my books,” Jiménez said. “It is, in a sense, honoring all immigrants who come to the United States to seek a better life for their children and their children’s children. Their struggles and sacrifices have contributed greatly to our nation in many ways.”

According to Jiménez, the Santa Clara campus is a fitting site for the reception, and the University, he pointed out, has a long tradition of welcoming students from all different parts of the world. “Immigrants enrich the educational experience of everyone. They bring with them their rich cultural heritage, which becomes an integral part of American history and culture.”

The campus also holds personal significance for him, as a graduate of Santa Clara University in 1966 with a BA in Spanish Studies and currently a faculty member in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

Read more about Jiménez.