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Dr. Ines Rojas returns as Drake’s Global Practitioner-in-Residence

Dr. Ines Rojas has returned to Des Moines as Drake’s Global Practitioner-in-Residence for the 2022-23 academic year. Photo Courtesy of Ines Rojas

Dr. Ines Rojas is Drake University’s Global Practitioner-in-Residence for the 2022-23 academic year, traveling all the way from Merida, Venezuela. She was previously Global Practitioner-in-Residence during the 2012-13 academic year and for a semester in 2017.

“My background is political science, but I’m also a linguist, so I teach Spanish and English. I have been able to teach some language courses like English, Spanish 140 or for the first year students 001, 002,” Rojas said. “But I have always had the chance to teach something about Latin America that deals with politics, citizenship and democracy. We did Model OAS [Organization of American States] once with students from advanced classes in Spanish.”

Rojas attended the Universidad de los Andes, where she received her bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language and her master’s in Linguistics. After being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, she came to the U.S. to earn another master’s and her doctorate, both in political science.

Professor Darcie Vandegrift, a fellow Fulbright Scholar who teaches in the Department for the Study of Culture and Society at Drake, brought Rojas to Des Moines.

“She was working for the School of Education and I brought her over to the School of Foreign Languages. And we ended up teaching together because she’s a sociologist and because I was teaching one of my courses on human rights and women’s rights. She fit perfectly with that,” Rojas said. “So we did a teaching team for one or two semesters. That’s how we met and she said, ‘Oh, it would be a good idea if you went to the U.S. and worked at the university where I work.’ She was the first contact to introduce the application to me to become our global practitioner.”

Rojas came back in 2017 with the encouragement of Vandegrift and Professor Marc Pinheiro-Cadd, who chaired the World Languages and Culture department at the time. Her travels this time were the result of a push from Professor Inbal Mazar.

“It’s all about connections and about how you establish those academic connections that become real friendships. We support each other’s work,” Rojas said. “Being a Fulbright [Scholar] has always helped because they keep a record there, so they know who I am.”

Rojas is teaching a course on Latin American decolonization this semester titled “The Image of a Latin American Culture.”

“I’m teaching a course on decolonization, which is a perspective that looks to see how we can understand this idea of being Latin America, where the name came from and whether we have to contest the Western idea of where knowledge comes from and everything that has been said,” Rojas said. “Contesting it and saying, ‘We perhaps have the same epistemology, a different understanding of who we are. We have a different way of looking at the world.’”

In addition to her class, Rojas supports Drake’s Spanish language professors in coaching students on their Spanish homework and advising students and supplementing what other professors do in the classroom. She also teaches classes on Venezuela to Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or OLLI participants and older people who are curious to learn more about various topics. 

“Because of another contact with whom I swim, he was like, ‘Oh my goodness, you’re back from Venezuela. We don’t know anything about Venezuela. Maybe you can tell us things that we should know about Venezuela,” Rojas said. “They ask a lot of questions. It’s a different format from the school; students are kind of shy to talk and discuss things. But the [OLLI students] were right on. They want to know: What is this? What is this?”

Rojas’s favorite about being back in the United State has been not only her time at Drake but being able to enjoy her time here and reconnect with family. It has been the ability to reconnect with her children living in the Netherlands and the United States.

“I hadn’t seen my daughter in four years. So apart from the position, it was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to get to see Alejandra’. It was amazing,” Rojas said. “The highlight of this winter break was being able to go back to New York and spend time with her and just the ability to be in the same country. I’m grateful for the opportunity that Drake has given me to be able to connect with my family. It’s amazing.”

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