Ana Patricia Rodríguez, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, received the inaugural Making a Difference Award from UMD’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE). The award recognizes those who have helped OCE connect the university with the wider and diverse surrounding communities.
Ana Patricia Rodriguez’s research focuses on U.S. Latina/o and Central American literary and cultural production. Her book, “Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Transnational Literatures and Cultures,” (University of Texas Press, 2009) examines narrative geographies of economic, symbolic and human excess in Central American isthmian and diasporic texts. She is working on a second book, tentatively titled “Same Story, Different Endings: Trauma, Cultural Memory, and Narrative in the Salvadoran Diaspora,” which explores the construction of Salvadoran post-traumatic memory through representations in film, music, performance art and testimonial texts. Her articles can be found in the journals American Literature, Latino Studies and Istmo.
Rodríguez regularly integrates public humanities and service learning into her teaching and scholarship, and has been a campus leader in community engagement. In 2013, she received a Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative grant to support a class on Salvadoran migrant communities. The course brought students into conversation with the community to develop a digital storytelling project.
This fall, Rodríguez created a new Spanish language course that sends undergraduates to Hollywood Elementary School in College Park to teach English to Spanish-speaking parents. The course will be offered in the Spring, as well, and Rodríguez hopes to open it to all university students, not just Spanish speakers.
Rodríguez is inspired by the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton who wrote that “poetry, like bread, is for everyone” (la poesía es como el pan, de todos). “I try to help my students see poetry in the daily things and to be creative in their learning,” she says, “whether it be by producing digital stories, migrant chronicles or projects in which they learn with the community. I call it the simple art of learning.”
The award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 14 from 4:30-6:30 at the College Park Aviation Museum. Please RSVP to attend.