It was a sunny day in Miami as I looked out the window of the airplane that was to take me to Pennsylvania. We were delayed by the Control Tower for over an hour and it made me lose my connection to Scranton. After standing by for several trips, I decided to drive that segment into Scranton. I had never seen so many eighteen wheelers going by, in my entire life! It was a cold and rainy night when I arrived. This was the beginning of an exciting and challenging trip to Bloomsburg University.
I felt honored when I received the invitation from Dr. Amarilis Hidalgo for an International Poetry Reading at Bloomsburg University, with students from different parts of the world.
As I walked out of College Hill Bed & Breakfast, my home for a couple of days, I saw that Bloomsburg University was just a few steps away. To my surprise it was a beautiful sunny day in Bloomsburg. It felt as if I had brought the sunshine of my island Puerto Rico, with me. The sight of the beautiful building in front of me, left me feeling great emotions. It was Carver Hall, named after the School’s first President, Henry Carver, who among many things had revived the Bloomsburg Literary Institute in 1866.
My first activity at the University was to visit Dr. Hidalgo’s students during their Spanish class. It was an interaction with the students in Spanish and it was very rewarding. Their interest in listening to my experiences as a poet and writer, became greater when I began to answer their questions. A great group of students which inquired about what moved me to write and the subjects I liked to write about.
I had the privilege of being escorted to visit the grounds and departments of the University by two students. Jenny Lipps and Giovanini Perla. They were great, made me really know their university and everyone they came in contact with, I was introduced to. I had conversations with so many members of the Faculty and felt the pride they all have in this house of wisdom.
The night of the International Poetry Reading was a very rewarding night. Students of different countries, some from different colleges, participated in the reading.
I was introduced by one of the students, Sarah Hulter, who has won a scholarship to translate a Chinese novel into English. I spoke to them of how I began to write, what moved me to become a poet and how my writings led me to other tendencies, like writing for children, writing monologues, song lyrics among others. I had given conferences in different Universities or Colleges in other countries but always in Spanish. This was the first time in English. I translated poetry into English for the reading, so they had copies of the poems and followed as I recited in Spanish.
One of the peak moments was when I spoke about Dr. Amarilis Hidalgo’s work as a poet. It seemed that the students were not aware of the writer that she is. She was asked to recite and she dedicated a poem to me and was asked by the students to read more. A great moment!
I was very touched when I listened to poems recited by students and professors in their native languages. Poems in French, Chinese, German, Spanish, English, Ukranian, Old English, sign language, among others. Poems that even though I did not understand the language, there was a musicality to them that made me feel the message they conveyed.
I cannot begin to thank Dr. Hidalgo for having invited me to Bloomsburg University, to all the faculty members that took their time to speak with me and share information about their programs and responsibilities.
During this tour of the University, I was introduced to Dr.Sharma, Director of International Academics Affairs, who had invited me as part of my visit, to the Bloomsburg University International Students Banquet. A night I will never forget, where students of different parts of the world united in pride to present their talents in singing, dancing and doing a fashion presentation of the folkloric attires of the countries they came from. A beautiful night of acknowledging friendship and unity.
Bloomsburg is celebrating 175 years of excellence in educational opportunities. I met their President Dr. David Soltz briefly. As I walked the campus I felt the history that the walls of those buildings held. I looked back at the amount of years and the privilege that I had being there in such an important year. I understood why he, as the 18th President of Bloomburg University, felt so proud about how the values of Bloomsburg’s foundation have remained.
My regards to all, specially to those with whom I visited: Dr. Brown (Liberal Arts), Dr. Robert Wislock (Social Equity Director), Victoria Raynis (Administrative Assistant of Social Equity Department), Dr. Philip Nicholas (Professor of Political Science), Dr. Ira Blake (Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs), Mr. Whitetaker ( Director of the Board of Governors Scholarships) and Madeline Rodríguez (Director of the Multicultural Center). My warmest regards to all the students!!