Enseñar tiene que ser que la persona en frente de ti termine apreciando el texto, termine sintiendo que hay valor en este texto. Tiene que tener significado. Quiero que mirar la historia antigua sirva para entender lo que vivimos hoy. Es bueno entender la historia pero no sirve para nada si no tienes la reflexión del presente. [Eng: Teaching has to be about the person in front of you ending with an appreciation of the text, that they finish feeling that it has value. I want to look at ancient history to help us understand what we are living today. It is good to understand history but it’s useless if you don’t reflect on it.] - Juan Carlos Toledano Redondo
Growing up in the south of Spain, in the small town of Adra, Juan Carlos Toledano Redondo was always a self-described empollón, which is to say, a bit of a nerd. He loved his schooling, every subject, and dove into reading and studies. España era un país en desarrollo [Eng: Spain was a developing country], he says. Entonces teníamos muchísimos problemas económicos, etc… Yo como niño fui un niño muy feliz, tenía educación, tenía salud pero éramos muy humildes. [So we had lots of economic problems, etc. As a child I was a very happy kid, I had education, I was healthy, but we [his family] were very humble.]
At 29, having earned a PhD from the University of Miami, Juan Carlos was drawn to Lewis & Clark College by the luminosidad [luminosity] of both the campus and the people who graced its classrooms. I saw that Lewis and Clark was a very relaxed place and the professors wanted to be more approachable to the students. The students were exactly like that too… their demeanor was different and I really thought that it was cool. Lewis and Clark looked like this not-so-tiny place where you could really teach, which is what I really like. Even though I’m a researcher, teaching is what moves me. LC’s strong culture of teaching and research provided him a framework wherein he could bond with his students in a genuine way and dedicate himself to his research and writing. He loves teaching historical, challenging literary texts in a way that can connect with modern discourse and problems; pushing his students toward and beyond their capacidades linguisticas [linguistic capabilities]. His expertise has long circled around lo fantástico en la literatura, y principalmente, la ciencia ficción [Literature of the fantastic and mostly science fiction].
Outside the classroom you’ll find Juan Carlos staying true to his roots, reading and writing short stories/ novels. Intento publicarlos pero no es el objetivo, es que me gusta escribir [I intend to publish them but it’s not the objective, I just enjoy writing]. He is also a passionate table tennis player, and loves spending time with his beloved family. He is currently writing several short stories and has started learning to speak Greek. Es muy difícil, pero es muy placentero. Cuando eres mayor y, sobre todo, cuando eres profesor de lengua, si estudias una lengua extranjera te das cuenta del sacrificio de tus estudiantes. [It’s very difficult but it’s very pleasant. When you’re older and above all when you’re a language professor, if you study a foreign language you realize the sacrifice your students are making].
Juan Carlos has traveled to parts of Central and South America including Chile, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Cuba. He has deeply cherished memories of traveling with students over the years, including visiting his hometown on the coast of Spain, where students met with his father and developed a deep, meaningful relationship. My father didn’t know any English at all and my students were all 201 level, it was beautiful. My father, of course, has passed away and I still remember that as a beautiful opportunity. It was very entrañable [heartwarming/ deep].
Thanks to his long travel history, Juan Carlos has mastered flexibility or as he puts it, being open to the unexpected. He’s looking forward to traveling with alumni, los alumnos son muy diferentes de los estudiantes [alumni are very different from students], he says. Los alumnos adultos son personas que ya han viajado mucho… viajan con respeto. Viajar con ellos puede ser más enriquecedor, ¡porque seguro que tienen algo que enseñarme a mi! [Older alumni are people who have already traveled a lot, they travel with respect. Traveling with them may be more enriching, they have something to teach me!] He says that for adults who have already traveled before it’s vital to know where you are going; to understand the history, geography, and some language of the places you are visiting. Let yourself go with whatever you encounter. Put in the effort to be kind and make sure you go there with the least amount of prejudice possible.