The Michigan Daily- Friday, October 11, 1991 - Page 7
Puerto Rican writer
by Marcus Olender
Although Judith Ortiz Cofer, a
Puerto Rican creative writer and a
visiting professor, is an American
citizen and writes in English, her
work remains rooted in her Latin
Her mini-course entitled
"Ethnicity and Creative Writing"
is being offered from October 7-21
through the American Cultures
"The aim of the course ig to use
language and family heritage to cre-
ate thoughtful material," she said.
Ortiz Cofer's writing draws on
her experience of having lived in
two distinct ethnic worlds.
She was born in Puerto Rico, but
when her father joined the Navy, he
was stationed in New York. For 14
years she traveled between Puerto
Rico and New Jersey.
Unlike her mother who returned
to Puerto Rico, Ortiz Cofer said she
cannot return because American cul-
ture is more familiar to her and her
life is here. Yet, she said, while she
would call the United States her
homeland, she still feels a bit out of
"I will always be Puerto
Rican," she said.
Also she said she would not call
herself "assimilated" - a term she
said is easily misunderstood.
"Being 'assimilated' does not
mean for a minute that I deny my
heritage. It means that I have chosen
to know the culture and the lan-
guage of the country in which I live
as well as my own," she said.
In her work, there are characters
who become "Americanized" and
ignore their Puerto Rican heritage.
"El olvido," or purposely for-
getting your culture, she warned, is
dangerous. Those who forget are
"throwing away all this useful in-
formation that can help them sur-
vive and adjust to the complex
world we live in," Ortiz Cofer said.
"For anyone to forget their origins
alienates them from their true
However, she said, the other ex-
treme is equally harmful. She
pointed to her mother, who refused
to learn English, as an example of
such an extreme.
"She came over as a very young
woman ... we learned quickly to
speak English, as children often do,
and she felt that as long as we trans-
lated for her, she was OK."
Ortiz Cofer said, unlike her
mother, she opposes ignoring the re-
alities of life in a foreign country.
ure to classroom
From an early age, she said she knew
she needed to speak English.
"How can you defend yourself
or others," she argued, "if you can't
speak in a court of law or if you
can't stand in front of people and
say 'I want my rights'?"
Ortiz Cofer is one of a growing
body of Latin American writers
whose works are gaining popularity
in the United States.
Her novel, The Line of the Sun
(1989), was nominated for the
Pulitzer Prize. In her most recent
work, Silent Dancing (1990), she re-
lates her childhood in a sequence of
stories and poems.
"My life doesn't exactly paral-
lel my work," Ortiz Cofer said.
"The essays are based on truth and
experience. I based it on Virginia
Woolf's idea of what a memoir ism
a summer afternoon. You remember
bits of this and enhance it."
Ortiz Cofer will present her
work in a number of readings and
will meet with creative writing
students during her stay.
Galens Medical Society promotes
year-round community service
Py maiissa rrancese rhrietinn rha a thirrLvPar MPrit_
Every December on campus,
Galens Medical Society members
*are consumed with the group's an-
nual bucket drive and the handing
out of well-known red and green
tags which signify donations.
The rest of the year, however, the
Galens members are busy working
on other service and fundraising
Galens members volunteer at the
Briarwood Run to assist in raising
funds for M-Care, the University's
HMO plan. They also participate in
blood drives four times a year for
the benefit of the American Red
The Galens Medical Society, or-
ganized in 1930, is the only service
organization at the University for
medical students. Over the years, it
has gained the respect and interest of
a large number of doctors and
%-mnsme kwa, a tmu-year mem-
cal student and current vice presi-
dent of Galens Medical Society, said
being a member of Galens is a unique
opportunity for medical students
because it gives them a chance to
'A good physician
isn't just test scores'
- Christine Cha
Vice president of Galens
work together in a non-academic
"A good physician isn't just test
scores," Cha said. She thinks the
strong tradition of the group lies in
the fact that it is one way medical
students learn "human responsibil-
ity and compassion."
Galens' December drive raises
about $70,000 each year. One
hundred percent of the donations
fund Ann Arbor area health care
programs. A large percentage is
given to Mott's Children's
Hospital which uses the money to
help fund tutoring and other
activities offered to patients and
In the past, Galens has also given
donations to the Ann Arbor Hands-
On Museum. Their most recent do-
nation to the museum helped to
build new exhibits on the human
body. The display, called "The
Subject is You," includes human re-
actiontimes, flexibility and skele-
The remainder of their collected
funds benefit an array of other Ann
Arbor and Ypsilanti organizations,
including the Beyer Memorial
Hospital, the Corner Health Center,
and Prospect Place Family Center.
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For those who were unable to
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BUSINESS AND TECHNICAL CAREERS
CLOSE YOUR BOOKS
FOR 2 HOURS.
IT COULD REALLY PAY OFE
GTE invites you take some time out when we visit campus. We'll be
recruiting aggressive, energetic students with varied backgrounds and
degrees. Naturally, we look for a good academic record, too -but most of
all, we're looking for people with a serious interest in learning about GTE.
While we're here, come and join us. Ask questions. Share some food. And
find out about the challenging opportunities GTE has to offer in
telecommunications, lighting and precision materials.
On-Campus Information Session/Reception
DATE: Tuesday, October 15th
DATE: Tuesday, October 15th
PLACE: School of Business, Rm 1220
PLACE: EECS Building