Professor Shines on Paraguay with Language Skills

A professor from New York has spent that last twenty-five years of his life trying to spread awareness about Paraguay and the small South American country’s struggle to transform from a dictatorship into a parliamentary democracy.

Professor Tracy K. Lewis began spreading awareness about the country’s history and struggles when he met and befriended a Paraguayan author named Juan Manuel Marcos at a conference in Louisiana. Lewis provided a Spanish to English translation of Marcos’ book and started a lifelong friendship in the process.

One Translation Begins Years of Learning

After providing a Spanish translation of Marcos’ book, Lewis started to learn more about his friend’s astonishing life and his harrowing escape from Paraguay. In the 70’s, Marcos was exiled from his homeland by the dictator General Alfredo Stroessner. He was exiled from the country for twelve years while the country went through tumultuous times politically. Not much is taught about Paraguay in the United States, so Lewis made it his mission to learn more about the country so that he could pass the knowledge on to his students.

Lewis teaches at the State University College at Oswego campus in New York, and he is a professor in the modern Languages and Literature Department. Many of Lewis’s students are learning Spanish in order to obtain jobs using Spanish legal translation and Spanish business translation, and they are also learning about the culture and history of some small lesser-known bilingual Spanish-speaking countries, like Paraguay.

Translated Book Brings Positive Recognition to Paraguay

It was Marcos’ book as well as his personality that drew Lewis to study more about Paraguay. The book – still unpublished when the two met – painted a vivid picture of the political and social hardships of the South American country. While Lewis provided a Spanish language translation of the book, called “El Invierno de Gunter,” or “Gunter’s Winter,” he was severely impacted by the story Marcos told.

The book is now in the process of being translated into several different languages so that the story that so impacted Lewis can reach other cultures as well. Lewis says that he’s always been drawn to “things that are off the radar,” and he’s happy that he has been able to spend that last twenty-five years teaching his students unique life lessons from Paraguay’s history and culture.


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