Thursday, April 27: Dr. Vilahomat’s Keynote Address in the Student Center Ballroom 205A at 5:00 p.m
About the Guest Speaker: Our guest speaker for the CLA Symposium is José Vilahomat, Professor of Spanish at Hendrix College.
The following information comes from his online program profile:
José Ramón Vilahomat Gonzalez was born in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. His family settled in a suburb of Havana in 1962 where he lived until the age of 27. In 1978, Vilahomat studied Physics in the School of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Havana, in which labs he worked for eight years as a Planar Technician, building solar cells and other non-conventional sources of energy in the Solid State Department. He combined his years in the lab with a new career, Philology that was more in line with his love for poetry and creative writing.
Vilahomat graduated in 1992 in Philology with a specialization on Cuban literature with a thesis on the Cuban writer Ezequiel Vieta. After defecting from Cuba in 1994 he finished a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in Spanish, both at Florida International University. Some of Vilahomat’s work experience includes being a librarian at the cultural institution “Casa de las Americas” in Havana, a professional printer at Associated Photo in Miami, a paraprofessional of profound-mentally handicapped students, a high school teacher, a translator, an urnalist.
Description of Dr. Vilahomat’s talk:
This is a personal story that he will tie into larger events both past and present. During the Cold War, he worked within the Cuban government in several roles: as a young literary analyst, as a censor of sorts regarding what articles could be published in journals (he gave his recommendations directly to Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida!), and even as part of a committee regarding whom would receive the few coveted automobiles available. He gradually grew disillusioned with the Castro regime and finally plotted and successfully pulled off his own defection in 1994. He was allowed to stay in the United States due to the Cuban Adjustment Act (1986). In terms of present events, he will discuss Fidel Castro’s recent death and how he is somewhat conflicted with the recent opening-up of Cuba under the Obama administration, because he knows that when most people go there as tourists they are not shown all of the real Cuba or told the whole story. On the other hand, he feels that in some ways the mere fact that people can come and go more freely is a positive step. In fact, he has been back more than once to the island himself.
To read the student papers presented at 2014 Student Research Symposium, please go to Student Research Journal