An adventure through our voices and words



You are probably asking yourself how the idea of Palabra & Voz was born.

Let me tell you about a sunny summer afternoon, about a week before the school year kicked in. I was reading outside of Victoria College, when I saw Professors Laura Colantoni and Sanda Munjic leaving work. We chatted for a while and, at the end of our conversation, they let me know that any suggestions that I (or another student had) had regarding the Department of Spanish and Portuguese would be welcome – they said that they would love to see more involvement and input from the Undergraduate student body.

I didn’t think much about it at the time, and I continued reading. On my way home, however, the wheels started turning. I thought to myself, the Graduate students have the Apuntes Hispánicos publication where they compile some of their creative and academic work. What did we have? Not much outside of the inspiring classroom discussions.

Judging by the talent and intellect displayed in our department, I thought that it would be fun for us to engage in something beyond, in something more. To get involved and to create a sense of community. The first idea that I had was brave and it involved a great amount of responsibility and commitment: a newspaper. I initially dismissed it for its apparent infeasibility, but then I thought, “Why not?!”

That same evening, I pitched my idea to Prof. Colantoni and Prof. Munjic. To my surprise, it was met with confident enthusiasm and a vigorous ¡adelante! The following week, we met and discussed what form this new project could realistically take. A paper edition was out of the question, and maybe for the better – we decided that a virtual space would be more accessible, as well as easier to maintain and share. We would write about news from the department, cultural happenings and curiosities, and most importantly, we would have a place to share our creative writing. I drafted some visuals to better represent my thoughts and ideas, and before long, a convocatory e-mail was sent out to the students enrolled in Spanish and Portuguese Majors and Minors. I wanted to know whether other students would share my enthusiasm to bring our small department closer and to create something together outside of the classroom.

I was terrified before the first meeting. What if nobody showed up?! To my consolation, they did. Not one, not two, but a whole half dozen students. I shared with them my vision and then we continued to “colour in” the project together.

My colleagues Elio Ramírez and Jaclyn Bucar will talk more about how tedious the process was initially. It was hard, but what we have now is bursting with creativity and inspiration. We put our words and voices together and we are impatient to share them with you.

I want to thank the Chair (Prof. Laura Colantoni) and the Undergraduate Coordinator (Prof. Sanda Munjic) of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese for the continuous trust they had in this at first naïve project, and for their encouragement to get it going. To our editors (Prof. Martha Bátiz, Prof. Hudson Moura and Prof. João Faustino) – your time and insight have been invaluable; and to our first seven contributors – thank you for being the pioneers of Palabra & Voz.

Joana Milcheva

When I received the e-mail from Professor Sanda Munjic, the Undergraduate Coordinator of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, I thought that this project would be a great opportunity for me to increase my extracurricular activity on campus. That was it. I wanted to prove that I have been writing more seriously and responsibly on my résumé.

That being said, I never imagined that it would take us the whole fall to come to this point: the publication of the first edition of Palabra & Voz. Our first meeting happened in mid-September, when the sun still radiated June’s enthusiasm. It was brief and somewhat naïve, but we bravely decided to embark on this journey. We ambitiously planned our first edition with topics that could be of great interest to the Undergraduate students. The creativity of our minds invited into the dream of being able to publish monthly. We dreamt that many students would unite into our principal cause of creating a student community within the department.

Dreams don’t cost a thing; making them reality, however, costs a whole world. After our first meeting, and after delegating tasks to recruit more students, we did not foresee the whirlwind of academic activities that was on our tails and, by October, we were crushed under them. The assignments piled up, while few of our e-mails and invitations were responded to. Time slipped away from us, just as maple leaves fall away during autumn. By the third week of October, we decided to regroup and rethink the objectives of the project. We simplified the responsibilities to gain some time and in this way were able to focus on tasks that were more specific.

By the beginning of November, we were able to collect our first compositions and we subjected them to a thorough and careful editing process. With the help of a few volunteer professors, we managed to refine more than ten articles and stories. At that very moment, we realized that the semester had almost finished and that final assignments were suppressing our efforts.

In December, we were surprised to find ourselves still applying the final corrections, but at the same time we were very content to see that our work had already attained a robust body. It was only a matter of a few days before our work would be published on the department’s webpage. Now that everything is ready, I hope that you all enjoy the adventure we have had though our voices and our words.

Elio Ramírez

In the first meeting for Palabra & Voz, I realized – and not for the first time – that the undergraduate students of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese lack solidarity as a student body. At the same time, I realized that this project gave us the opportunity to unite through our common interests and experiences. We were few in number – we didn’t even amount to ten people – but we all liked the idea of the project and got very excited about what we could accomplish. We spoke ambitiously of the distant future of the project and possible collaboration with OLAS…in the end, we let ourselves get carried away with the spirit of that first meeting and we left with unrealistic ideas. I believe we overestimated what we could accomplish in a month, as well as the level of commitment the project required.

After four years of study in the department, and despite having identified myself with many of my colleagues, it became apparent that we did not tangibly promote a sentiment of community amongst ourselves. This impression proved itself to be reality in the first stage of the project. After the first meeting, it seemed that the majority of interested parties had begun to feel the weight of their own work and, effectively, they disappeared from the scene. Elio contacted me in the middle of October to ask if I had heard anything about the project. After getting in touch with Joana, we realized that there were only three of us and that our work would have greater challenges in store for us…

Despite the difficulties and setbacks, we have finally finished the first edition of Palabra & Voz. I present it here, on my account, with much pride in our original team, with gratitude to the newly interested students that have emerged with contributions, and with the hope that the rest of you find yourselves interested in reading what we produced and in contributing to the second edition. I have always been a timid student, insofar as extracurricular groups and projects – despite finding myself interested in many initiatives taken on campus, I never had the confidence to get involved. After the work that we did this semester, I can attest to the feeling of accomplishment of having successfully collaborated our minds and efforts. We hope to find more students who are interested, within and outside of the department, with whom we can share this feeling of community ☺

Part of this project was to create a creative space in which the undergraduate students of the department can experiment with their intellectual capacities. I think we achieved that vision. With Palabra & Voz we can experiment our intellectual capacities, free from the stress of academic work. Here we can inform and inspire both one another, at the same time as practicing Spanish and Portuguese together. Here we can share the cultural experiences to which these languages have given us access. Here, giving voice to our ideas through the written word, we can construct a community founded on our common interests. Let’s go! Let’s embark on this adventure through our voices and words.

Jaclyn Bucar