The next morning, I was a guest of Dr. Rocio De la Rosa Duncan (Associate Professor of Spanish) and her class where I read some of my short stories. The students asked great questions and made me feel right at home despite the early hour.
After class, I had a little tour of the campus, and then lunch with a group of students which was organized by Sigma Delta Pi and the Student Organization of Latinos. Here, I had a chance to hear the students discuss their experiences studying abroad in Spanish speaking countries. I was enthralled by their stories, and I felt honored to have had the opportunity to hear what they had learned in their travels. I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with Professor Kathleen Madigan, Chair of the Foreign Languages Department.
Then it was on to the Science Center where I read a chapter from my novel, The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press), to a wonderfully attentive group of students and faculty members. This event was sponsored by the Latino Writers Collective, Sigma Delta Pi and the Student Organization of Latinos. As you can see from the above photo, I was quite the professor.
And thanks to Xánath, I also had the chance to spend time with Professor Miguel A. Carranza, the founding director of Latina(o)/Chicana(o) Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. What a fine and interesting discussion we had. UMKC is lucky to have Prof. Carranza at this historic time.
In the evening, since it was National Poetry Month, I did a reading with poet and scholar, Andrés Rodríguez, at The Writers Place (group picture above).
Afterwards, as the evening grew late, we hit a jazz club, where we listened to some great, old school funk and soul.
The next morning, I had brunch with Xánath and her husband, Steve Holland-Wempe (who teaches at UMKC and is working on his Ph.D). There is a well-established Mexican community in Kansas City, so we had great Mexican food before heading off to visit the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery (photo above).
We then visited the Guadalupe Center which was founded in 1919 to establish a volunteer school and clinic for the underprivileged Mexican immigrants who had settled in the Westside of Kansas City. In the photo above, I pose near some of the old photographs of those who were assisted decades ago.
My trip ended with Xánath and Steve taking me to the magnificent Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Here I pose with one of the many fine examples of Rodin sculptures.
I am back in Los Angeles, my head still swimming with images and sounds and tastes of Kansas City, MO. I hope to go back, some day…