June 22nd, 2012
Over the coming days, the Humanities Blog will be featuring remarks given by six different students at the Humanities Commencement on May 20th 2012. These remarks were made by Rebecca Starzyk. Rebecca, who graduated magna cum laude, is a double major in Psychology and Hispanic Studies and a member of Psi Chi and Phi Beta Kappa. She plans to become a bilingual social worker, possibly working with Latino immigrants. She is winner of this year’s Eli D. and Mollie Goodstein Prize in Spanish.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez describes a town called Macondo whose people suffer from collective memory loss, forgetting the names and uses of everyday objects. As they disregard the value of the written word, they become trapped in a meaningless present, lacking the linguistic rootedness to the past necessary to remind them how to interact with the world they have created. Ultimately, the title captures Macondo’s fate: one hundred years of suffering.
Studying Hispanic literature has enriched my life, connecting me to the world in ways that I never would have imagined possible four years ago. I have analyzed ideas and images from three continents and various centuries, spent a semester studying Spanish poetry, prose and film at the University of Barcelona, and interviewed and interacted with Latin American immigrants in search of the American dream. Studying literature has taught me to appreciate and analyze issues from the subjective nature of history to the transformations of globalization from various points of view. Additionally, I now possess the capability and confidence to engage in discussion on these issues, in Spanish, with the billions of people around the world who speak it. My education in Hispanic Studies has opened the door to new conversations, making me a more well-rounded and culturally sensitive individual.
At the end of One Hundred Years of Solitude, one of the townspeople deciphers a piece of parchment prophesying the town’s tragic fate. If only the town had cared about the text sooner, perhaps the solitude could have been avoided. As graduates of the humanities, we, unlike the people of Macondo, understand the value of the written word. We have explored our texts, connecting in the process with both each other and a global community. Now it is time to reap the benefits of the worlds we have opened up.