On Aug. 17, 2021, NKU World Languages and Literature’s French and Spanish Lecturer, Dr. Iliana Rosales Figueroa, was appointed to the Kenton County Library Board of Trustees by Kenton County Judge executive Kris A. Knochelmann. Since moving to Kenton County, she has been involved in several events organized by the library and she is honored to represent the Hispanic community on the Board of Trustees. Dr. Rosales Figueroa has a B.A in French from the Universidad Veracruzana, Veracruz, Mexico. She has a Master’s in French from the University of Missouri and a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from the University of Cincinnati.
On March 5-6, 2021, The Kentucky Philological Association offered a special creative session organized on the topic “Alive in Viral America.” Dr. Iliana Rosales Figueroa submitted a short story for this category called Carnival, which we are excited to share here with you.
By Iliana Rosales Figueroa
— “The New Orleans Mayor has just canceled all Mardi Gras parades to limit the spread of the coronavirus”— the nurse told Carter.— “So, there will be no parades, costumes, music and trinkets on the streets? ”—Asked Carter with tears in his eyes.
— “I am afraid that will not be possible this year sweetie. But the mayor’s office is turning to the public for ideas about how to celebrate the holiday safely. What ideas do you have?”— the nurse whispered in Carter’s ears. Carter smirked at the nurse’s inquisitive look. Before he could even answer, in an instant, his fragile body started to spasm violently. Unable to control it, he curled up in fetal position and shut his swollen eyes in an attempt to escape from the pain. The nurse rushed into the hospital corridor to call the doctor. Carter’s slow heartbeat made it impossible for him to open his eyes. While falling into a state of deep unconsciousness,the only thing he could treasure in his mind was an image of him wearing his new ninja dragon slayer costume to Endymion, the biggest and largest attended Mardi Gras parade in the city. His head bobbed up and down and his weak body crumbled to the ground. Confused and anxious, he looked around for an explanation. Squinting toward the only twinkling light he could perceive in front of him, he saw, a thin man playing the trumpet. He moved his head to the opposite direction and blinked very firmly to fix his blurry eyes. At this moment, he recognized the name of the song the man was playing: “If Ever I Cease To Love”. Then, he looked again toward the light, and this time his vision was clear. There first came awe, then doubt, then hope. He saw his dad playing the trumpet in a brass band. He also noticed all the other instruments that formed the brass band: a tuba, trombones, clarinets, saxophones, a snare drum and a bass drum. Carter was fascinated by the scene. He had waited along time for this moment. He had not seen his dad since he died almost a year ago from a virus nobody knew back then, COVID-19.He always accompanied his dad everywhere he played in the city. Carter ran to his father’s side, still catching his breath, and watched closely the dancing of his fingers on the trumpet. The boy always wanted to play the trumpet like his father. He was eager to talk to him. But, before he could say something,a rasping voice of a crowned man speaking through a microphone interrupted his concentration. It was Rex, the Carnival’s king,who was giving a toast to his snazzy queen. It was at this moment that Carter noticed, the two flamboyant pageants on each side of Rex and his dazzling float. He also remarked the loud crowds in the street and in the balconies above him. It was the perfect Carnival parade.He could not comprehend why the nurse lied to him, just a few minutes ago, and why he was not in his hospital room. It was Mardi Gras and, as every year previously, once again, he attended the parade with his father.
— “Daddy!”— cried out Carter while sliding both arms around his father’s waist.— “There you are!”— his father hollered.He held his trumpet with his left hand and caressed his son’s shaggy hair with his other hand. “I almost did not recognize you at first with your new costume. It suits you very well!”His father remarked. Carter turned slowly. He sighed and nodded. His face flushed. He felt special and forgot those countless nights at the hospital waking up in an agony, thinking how he did not bid farewell to his father before he died. His father stared at his son’s eyes and uttered “The band is about to launch another song. I want you to play the trumpet for me.”
— “Oh no! You are kidding! You know I do not know how to play the trumpet!”— Carter muttered wistfully. He looked over his dad’s shoulder to see if the other members of the brass band had heard the father’s request and the son’s reply. Luckily for him, nobody noticed. It was a hot evening and the musicians were wiping out their sweat. His father shook his grizzled hair and said while handing his instrument and a clean mouthpiece to Carter,— “Please just try son! Today is your night!” Carter grabbed bashfully the trumpet and his heart thudded with fear. His fingers, cold and clammy, crawled up to the finger valves.Just behind him, the snare drum started playing the rhythm intro of “When The Saints Go Marching In” followed by the single pitched drone of the bass drum. Carter took in a deep breath through his nose, held it and started playing the song with the rest of the brass band.He seemed so anxious until he played the first note. Like an exciting new trumpeter, he played against the stable pitch produced by the snare drum and the bass drum and he even syncopated to the offbeat. He played first trumpet and stood still, like a hummingbird in the middle of the street, rocking his lean body back and forth to the natural stress of the tune.Carter would have not been able to play the song without the influence of his dad who had played it before him so many times. The crowds were in a frenzy during the song and even after it ended. Up in the balconies, maskers leaned over the railing to throw trinkets to the crowds below. A purple bead necklace and some doubloons fell on Carter’s face which made him grin showing his pearly white teeth.
— “I knew you could do it! You captivated the audience by giving them a new edition of the song! You created it; you made it your own! I am very proud of you and your mom would have been too!” His father said. His fellow band members congratulated him heartily on his fine musical performance. His father hugged him and kissed him. Between Carter and his father there was pure love and trust. Carter’s mom had died when he was born, so she only lived in his imagination. All his memories were about his father. Seeing him and sharing their mutual love for music in this beautiful evening was a gift from heaven. Carter’s successful performance gave him confidence in himself. He played all night long with his dad, who stood at his side. Carter added his own poetic touch by expressing variety and contrast in his musical interpretations.He reawakened in the crowds emotions of ecstasy.The doctor flung open the door followed by the nurse. They saw the feeble child so near death laying on the ground. The doctor carried him up and placed him on the bed. At the exact moment, the trumpet slid down from Carter’s hands. He was so wrapped up in his playing as to know the real cause of this action. He winced when he received the injection by the doctor and his father’s voice slowly faded away saying goodbye. Carter opened his eyes and saw himself laying on his bed in the same bleak hospital room. He recalled right away the living world of sorrow and the terrible memories of pain. The doctor flooded the child with questions to make sure he was conscious. Carter rolled his eyes and drawled. His mouth and fingers were sore. And then, he remembered . . . the crowds, the music, the trumpet . . . his father.There came to him a thought so laden with love that he rejoiced. Yet, he shuddered when he realized everything was just a dream. How pitiful is the aftermath of seeing a love one alive in a dream. The joy father and son shared at the Carnival was preciously stored in Carter’s mind.He had only been in contact with the doctors and the nurses. He was isolated, as the rest of the patients, and had not seen the other kids in the hospital. Being with his father made him feel not forgotten and abandoned. When the nurse elevated the head of the bed, Carter noticed it was early morning and the lawn in front of the Children’s hospital was decorated with purple, green and gold beads, doubloons and stuffed animals. He pondered over the previous night:
— “It was not a dream.” — He said smiling.
The Languages, Literatures and Cultures Conference is one of the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious literary, cultural and linguistics conferences, drawing over 750 participants annually to the University of Kentucky.
This paper explores the meaning of“experience” through the concept of taiken (hands on experience) and keiken (intellectual experience) in the depictions of atrocity featured in Murakami Haruki’s Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Underground. In particular, this paper will juxtapose narratives of wartime atrocities. Popular media engagements with these events treat them as spectacles of violence and pain that are replayed for public consumption with little explanation or context.
Angelina Lopez graduated from NKU in Spring ’21 with a BA in Spanish & Secondary Education. She has since gone on to teach Spanish at a local Cincinnati high school. We decided to follow up with her to ask how things have been going in the classroom during her first year of teaching high school.
Where are you teaching and what levels of Spanish do you teach?
I teach at Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School, which is in the Cincinnati Public School district. I teach all students from seventh grade to seniors; Exploratory Spanish, Spanish I and Spanish II.
How did your coursework in Spanish and Secondary Ed prepare you for teaching high school Spanish? Are there any particular classes or experiences that you feel were particularly beneficial? If so, what were they?
I felt ready and prepared to teach after completing the coursework required for the Spanish program and the Secondary Education program. The piece that was particularly beneficial was all the time spent physically in the classroom between fulfilling observation and practicum hours to the professional semesters. Also, the methods of teaching Spanish course was also a critical piece.
Why did you decide to go into teaching as a career?
I was considered a non-traditional student, meaning I came to college later in life. This came after pursuing a few different career paths that ended up not being the best fit for me. I have always had a knack for helping people work through challenges and teaching seemed like a career choice that I would enjoy long term that was a better fit than previous choices.
What is something that you really enjoy about your job?
Teaching is a career full of challenges and barriers that you must learn how to navigate and overcome in your own way. One of the best feelings in this job is the feeling that you get when you successfully overcome a challenge after trying different solutions and failing.
What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing teaching as a career?
Try not to get caught up in negative comments about wanting to become a teacher. It is true that it is hard work, but there is plenty of joy to be found as well. Listen to what others have to say and be observant, but build your own opinions. If you have taken time to think it through and you are certain that this is what you want don’t let the negative opinions talk you out of your dream!
Kevin Corea is a Spanish lecturer and academic advisor for both the department of World Languages and Literatures and Mathematics & Statistics. He has been with NKU since the Spring of 2018. We asked Kevin some questions so that we could all get to know more about him and his experience here at NKU and beyond.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Flatwoods, Kentucky in Greenup County, where I graduated from Russell High School (Go Devils!)
Where did you earn your undergraduate and graduate degrees, and what were your major(s) and minor(s)?
As an undergraduate I studied Spanish Education, and as a graduate student I studied Educational Administration. I did both programs at Ohio University in Athens.
How long have you been working at NKU? What do you like about working at NKU?
It’s hard to believe I’ve been at NKU going on four years now! Time flies when you’re having fun. NKU is such a great community. I love that faculty/staff and students alike care about making campus welcoming for all.
How long have you been teaching, what have you taught and where?
I’ve been teaching since 2013. I started at Ohio University in Athens teaching Spanish, then moved on to Virginia Tech where I worked with students who were exploring their career and major options. Then, I came here to NKU where I get to do a combination of those things! I really enjoy working with teacher candidates in the languages—it’s fulfilling to help our students go out into the world and share their passion for language learning with their future students.
How long have you been advising? What prompted you to go into advising?
I started advising work back in 2011 while working in admissions as a student. I found that I loved helping people sort through all of the career options out there to find something they truly love. I’ve been advising full-time since 2015 when I got my first advising-specific job at Virginia Tech, and that was a really formative experience where I got to learn a lot about advising theory and practice.
What is it like to have position in which you get to teach and advise students?
In a word, amazing! I like that I get to share my love of language in my teaching career but also meet with students one-on-one and be a part of their support system in achieving their goals. My job really brings together everything I love in higher education.
What is an interesting fact about yourself that people might not know?
I am also an interior designer! When I’m not advising or teaching Spanish, I’m most likely working on an Airbnb or another design project for either myself or a client.
Faustina Mulnik is a Spanish major, minoring in Business, who is completing an in-person internship through the city of Covington in their Read Ready Program. Read Ready Covington is a citywide early literacy initiative that helps families, caregivers and educators prepare their littlest readers to become future leaders.
By using free access to learning applications such as Footsteps2Brilliance and Clever Kids University as well as other educational resources throughout the city, their shared goal creates an environment for life-long learning in Covington that is collaborative, comfortable and fun. Through this internship, Faustina is responsible for translating promotional materials into Spanish, communicating with Spanish-speaking families,and promoting RRC to businesses and events.
She is also required to attend and takes notes in biweekly team meetings. Through this internship, Faustina gets to apply her language skills by translating flyers and materials into Spanish. She also gets to represent Read Ready Covington at Hispanic events and communicate directly with Covington’s Spanish-speaking population.
Faustina believes that this internship has helped her to strengthen her Spanish communication skills and given her hands-on language practice. She also believes that this experience will help her to qualify for full-time positions after graduation.
For more information on the Read Ready Covington program, visit:
To learn more about the importance of internships and how to find out more about these types of opportunities, visit:
Handshake is a valuable online resource where you can find postings for available co-ops/internships, information on career fairs and other events, and an employer directory.
Frikadellen are pan-fried ground meat patties. They are also known as“Fleischklops”, “Fleischpflanzerl” or“Bulette”. In Bavaria, they are often enjoyed during Oktoberfest. For centuries, people in Germany and beyond have enjoyed frikadellen. They are also commonly enjoyed in Poland and throughout Scandinavia. These meat patties can be eaten like hamburgers on rolls or like meatballs, usually served with potato salad or a cabbage dish. Flavorful and versatile, frikadellen is traditionally also eaten cold on picnics,owing to their convenient shape and size for sandwiches.
Frikadellen - German Meatballs