The University of Iowa is one of only three colleges in the United States that offers an MFA in Spanish with Spanish language classes.
The creative writing course offered by the University is two years long, and it has slowly gathered more and more students who want to enroll in Spanish language classes. Some of these students are not native speakers, but they would like to improve their Spanish translation skills.
Some Thoughts Can Only Be Expressed in Spanish
Paula Lamamie is a second-year student in the creative writing MFA program. She first heard about the program while she was working in Madrid as a bookstore clerk. One of the professors at the University of Iowa, Ana Merino, came into her store to look for books to use in her new Spanish language classes.
Merino eventually learned that Lamamie held a degree in philosophy and also dabbled in poetry and novel writing. She invited Lamamie to join the program, and a few years later, Lamamie nearly has her degree. She says that studying writing in her own language gives her writing more meaning and depth that she isn’t able to express fully in English. She is fluent in English and proficient in Spanish to English translation, but she feels that Spanish language classes give her more opportunities to express heartfelt thoughts and feelings.
Proficiency in English
English proficiency is required of all students at the University of Iowa, so all of the students in the Spanish-language creative writing MFA are bilingual. The students in the program usually take the Spanish-language classes, because they feel more comfortable writing and expressing their thoughts in their native language, or because they’ve never had the chance to write creatively in their native language before.
The program also allows students to explore literature in their own language and learn a side of their culture they might not have experienced before. The students take a wide variety of classes so that they not only cover writing, but also literature in all forms.
Students from Many Different Countries
The program at University of Iowa doesn’t just attract people in the United States who speak Spanish; it also attracts people from different Spanish-speaking countries. So far, the program has students from Colombia, Bolivia, Spain, and Costa Rica.
Some of these students have become teaching assistants and have also become integral members of the local writing community. With their knowledge of Spanish – and often English – writing style and literature, they provide valuable insight, encouragement, and Spanish language translation for fellow students and local writers.