BY AILEEN ACOSTA
The Latin American Women of Influence course at Drake University, Spanish 152, focuses on the struggles and achievements that women in Latin America had to undergo, as well as acknowledges their efforts.
For the first time at Drake, the course is available to students in the spring 2018 semester, taught by Professor Inbal Mazar.
Mazar has been teaching Spanish courses that deal with grammar, speaking and culture at Drake since 2015. Mazar decided to teach the course for the first time because of the interest she received from her students and the lack of acknowledgement she had seen for women’s hard work.
“We tend to not acknowledge the work that women have done, even though they had to overcome big obstacles to get there,” Mazar said. “This then means we do not have role models that are women, so women do not think they could be president, and men do not realize that there are women that are doing this work.”
Sophomore Josephine Martin enrolled in the class because of the requisites for her Spanish minor. She felt this class would broaden her horizons because of the lack of teaching in her past years on women.
“(This class) lets you gain a lot of the vocabulary and cultural understanding, but it also allows you to see feminism in another culture, which is important to see because women also need to support and equalize treatment with women, not just men,” Martin said. “This is an inspiring class because it has been a good reminder to me that gender does not define me, and it allows me to fight for what is right. It also inspires me in my field because there is not a lot of women doctors. This class is a reminder that women are super powerful, and we can do what we need to do.”
Martin is not a native Spanish speaker, and this class has become more difficult than her previous classes. What would take her 10 minutes to read in English takes her an hour and half in Spanish.
“I end up spending a lot of time on the course, but it is worth it and I am learning a lot,” Martin said.
Karla Salgado, a first-year native Spanish speaker at Drake, finds herself in a comfortable environment to speak Spanish with her classmates. Although she fumbles with her words, she feels content to know that everyone else is learning too, even if they are not native Spanish speakers, and that they are educating themselves on the accomplishments achieved by women of color.
“I know there is a lot of people on Drake’s campus that feel like there is not enough classes speaking out on people of color, let alone women of color,” Salgado said. “This class really puts a pin on that. I do not think that a class would target that nor women’s influences like this one, plus it is great for improving your Spanish.”
As one of the two men in the class, first-year Jose Guzman assures that this class is a comfortable environment for everyone and hopes more men become more aware of women’s acknowledgments.
“I am learning a lot more about women I never heard of, and I am happy that I am finally able to speak Spanish in a class with other people,” Guzman said. “I do not really think much about being the only guy in the class because it is such a comfortable environment. I am only reminded when my professors ask me to give a guy perspective, which I am comfortable with.”
There are two class sections of 20 and 21 students that take place on Mondays and Wednesdays. The class requires students to speak, read and write in Spanish at an advanced level. Students also had to previously complete Spanish 140 which is the practical Spanish speaking level class at Drake.
Latin American Women of Influence counts for the Spanish minor, Latin American minor and concentration in women’s and gender studies. This class includes a variety of non-native and native Spanish speakers.
Mazar will not be offering this course next semester so that she can give students an opportunity to take other Spanish courses. She hopes to teach the course again in the future.