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Rayzor Hall welcomes Spanish Resource Center

By Jocelyn Wright     8/20/09 7:00pm

The new Spanish Resource Center, which opened this summer, will offer students an opportunity to learn about Spanish language and culture through an extensive reference database and educational activities, hosted in conjunction with the Department of Hispanic Studies, Spanish Resource Center Director Miguel Hernáiz said. Funded by the Ministry of Education of Spain and located in Rayzor Hall 321, the center is free and will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to students, faculty, staff and the Texas community, Hernáiz said.

Sid Richardson senior Mayra Martinez is majoring in Hispanic Studies and believes the center will be a great addition to the Rice campus, but hopes it will expand its services to the surrounding community as well.

"I hope it will be promoted in HISD schools," Martinez said. "The center is a good start, but it needs to be advertised on- and off-campus."

The center, which is one of 14 in the United States, houses a collection of 2,500 books, 500 reference materials such as dictionaries, grammar books and encyclopedias, resources for teaching Spanish as a foreign language and a movie collection of over 400 Spanish films. Hernáiz said he was still working out which materials could be loaned out and which ones would be accessible only in the center.

Hernáiz said he would be meeting with the Department of Hispanic Studies in the coming weeks to discuss what sort of activities, such as film festivals, seminars, talks and conferences they should organize.

"The activities we organize are usually in response to the demands of the faculty and students of the university that hosts the Spanish Resource Center," Hernáiz said. "The faculty of the department comes up with ideas and initiatives and suggestions, and we will try to organize the activities and funding."

Last spring, Hernáiz said the Spanish Resource Center, which was previously hosted at the University of Houston, cooperated with two other centers in the southern United States to host a full-day seminar on Spanish writer and philosopher María Zambrano.

The center also organizes service teaching activities, normally for teachers in elementary, middle and high schools who either teach Spanish as a second language or bilingual programs. Hernáiz said that although the center is hosted in Houston, it could also organize activities away from Houston to accommodate the needs of other cities in Texas.

There are Spanish Resource Centers throughout the world in over 30 countries, some of which have been around for over 15 years, Hernáiz said. Though the Spanish Resource Center in Texas was previously hosted at the University of Houston, Hernáiz said they had come to a mutual agreement that it was time to move on.

"Rice was of course the best possible candidate because of the reputation and infrastructure Rice could offer us," Hernáiz said.

Although the Spanish Resource Center will focus mostly on Spanish culture, Hernáiz said he was open to the possibility of collaborating with other Spanish-speaking countries.

"It's only natural since it's funded by the government of Spain and the taxpayers of Spain that we focus on Spain, but we're open to doing things in cooperation with other Spanish-speaking countries," Hernáiz said.

He added that the center's collection of materials included some titles from Latin American countries. Hernáiz said he was also conscious of Rice's interest in Latin America and the U.S.-Latin American population.

"It has been called the triangle - Spain, Latin America and the U.S.-Latin American population - with many things in common like language and culture," Hernáiz said. "Spain is after all just one part of the Spanish-speaking population in the world, and the Spanish-speaking population is growing tremendously in the U.S., so it is only natural that we want to be part of that equation of Spain, Latin America and the U.S.-Latino population.

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