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Stories

Collaboration and Translation

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures offers students unique, real-world opportunities for personal and career development

 A 21st century curriculum, creative student-faculty collaborations and meaningful engagement with the real world are just a few of the characteristics that distinguish the experience of pursuing a language degree with SCU’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures from anywhere else. Just ask two of our talented Spanish Studies students, Héctor Martínez and Mike Gómez. During the Winter 2018 quarter, they completed an independent study course with Dr. Ariel Schindewolf in which they translated the book Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University from English into Spanish. Making the experience even more enriching, they worked in collaboration with the book’s author, Dr. Francisco Jiménez, internationally acclaimed scholar and writer, and Professor Emeritus of our Department.

“Translating literature involves a lot of empathy, and in the end reveals something new and profound about others and about ourselves”

This unique experience was the result of the close student and faculty relationships that are central to our Department’s mission and our commitment to our Jesuit values. Dr. Schindewolf first met Hector and Mike in 2015 when they were students in her (then) new course, Modern Spanish Translation, a course that itself included a collaboration with the Leavey School of Business’s My Own Business Institute (MOBI). Along with several other students who were successful in the course, Hector and Mike were selected for a paid summer internship with MOBI to translate its self-guided entrepreneurship course materials into Spanish. Prof. Schindewolf served as their internship mentor, meeting with them throughout the summer to guide them in their work. Noting Hector and Mike’s exceptional abilities and keen interest in translation, in the following academic year, Prof. Schindewolf created an independent study course in translation for them and recommended them for a second MOBI paid summer internship under her mentorship. Back on campus for the 2017-18 academic year, Hector and Mike were still eager to continue their studies in translation, and that’s when Prof. Schindewolf got really creative. Noting that Francisco Jiménez’s 4th book in his autobiographical series was the only one not yet translated into Spanish, she approached him about collaborating on a translation with her, Hector and Mike. Though officially retired, the distinguished Professor Emeritus Jiménez enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity, and Prof. Schindewolf then designed the independent study course on literary translation using Taking Hold as the primary text and project. Mike and Hector did advanced reading on translation theory, diligently translated multiple chapters a week, and engaged in weekly meetings with Dr. Schindewolf and Dr. Jiménez to discuss questions and to ensure that the narrative voice sounded and felt like Dr. Jiménez’ own throughout the work. With the translation now completed, the team has begun pursuing opportunities for its publication.  

This was a ‘full-circle’ experience for Mike and Hector, both of whom are children of Mexican immigrants who connected with Dr. Jiménez’ books when they read them in junior high and high school. These real-world experiences have also helped Hector and Mike develop their talents into marketable skills that also bring a significant social benefit: their work on both the MOBI and the Taking Hold projects are making important educational materials accessible to the Spanish-speaking world. “It’s always a special occurrence when a course can culminate in something that can be shared with the rest of the world and feel like not only have we learned, but we have also produced something meaningful,” states, Dr. Schindewolf. The students were equally thrilled with their experience. When asked, Hector shared, “Meeting Francisco gave us the chance to truly learn from his humility and perseverance. This opportunity has made me realize that translating literature involves a lot of empathy and in the end reveals something new and profound about others and about ourselves”; Mike states that “the opportunity to translate Taking Hold challenged us to practice our translation skills and allowed us to exercise our own creative potential.”

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“It’s been a privilege and an honor to collaborate with such talented students and a wonderfully knowledgeable and skillful teacher”, says Dr. Jiménez