Department of Spanish and Portuguese

A Message from Gabriela Polit

The best way of learning is through art.

When I decided to teach a class in creative non-fiction, I wanted students to tell their stories. For most of us, the first story is a very personal one, usually written to ourselves in a journal or a diary, and it is based on our intimate, painful or happy experiences.

We spent the semester reading and learning about the “I” as a useful tool to tell stories. Most of the students decided to make good use of this tool, and – as shown here – they dug into their experiences and transformed them into great stories. Others, decided to explore the topics of their interest, doing research in a creative way. One of them decided to write from a third person narrator, because that voice made it easier for her to tell her painful story.

There was an equal number of English and heritage Spanish-speakers in the class, but for all of them, writing comes naturally in English. Writing in Spanish was a tour de force, and they all did it with grace, with passion and most of all, with generosity.

The stories published here are their responsibility and their merit. My role as a teacher was only to teach them how to use some tools. The creative process was intimate as much as it was collective. They shared their texts and all of us made comments, shared our insights, and criticized in the process, with the only objective of helping transform the text into better story.

During our exchanges, a student told me that writing in Spanish had made her a better writer in English. I myself have always felt the same, my writing in Spanish got better since I began writing in English. This class has been a celebration of story-telling, of translating experiences that happened in a language and were written in another language, connecting two cultures.  It has been the best way of learning, creating art.

I am grateful to the students that embarked on this adventure.



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