At the end of last spring, the core faculty of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese went on an unusual trip to San Juan, PR. The whole group spent three days working together on plans and ideas about the future of the department.
The faculty retreat was a particularly intense experience. Housed in the beautiful "The Landmark" co-working space in Miramar, the faculty was able to discuss thoroughly the undergraduate program, the graduate program and the Spanish and Portuguese language programs. From the new Princeton minors to governance issues to new pedagogical materials and the future of the fields represented within the Department, the group of professors covered several topics in their conversation.
According to the SPO chair, Professor Pedro Meira Monteiro, "even more than the topics themselves, what was more important was the unique opportunity we had to listen to each other. Regular faculty meetings during the semester can be rather bureaucratic moments that don’t allow for continued discussion of the horizons of an academic unit. We needed to be together in an environment at once relaxed and serious, with no distractions, with just ourselves and the possible futures that we want to share with our community. There are entire zones of our individual work that may be invisible to some of us, and the retreat was the opportunity to make them finally visible to everyone. The sense of belonging to a community was really strengthened, while it was also a time for entertainment and conviviality. To me, the most beautiful scene, which somehow summarizes the spirit of our retreat, is a picture I took of Rachel Price’s son Caio being taken by the hands at the airport by his mom and by Professor Gabriela Nouzeilles. It’s not only a nice scene; it’s a mixture of care, responsibility and enjoyment.”
Assistant Professor Rafael Cesar, who had just been hired, as well as Professors Germán Labrador and Rachel Price, who were both on leave, and the Spanish and Portuguese language directors Alberto Bruzos and Nicola Cooney also attended.
The results of the retreat will be felt throughout the years, but one concrete idea that has just been implemented is the Sylvia Molloy Talk Series, which should bring the SPO community together once a semester for a talk by a distinguished guest who has had a particularly strong impact on their field.
At once relaxing and productive, the retreat allowed the faculty to also meet alumni and friends who are leading scholars, artists and activists in Puerto Rico.