Students and staff gathered for a book reading on Thursday hosted by an English teacher from Cosumnes River College.
English teacher José Alfaro presented his book entitled “Something More Splendid Than Two”. The reading was organized by Puente and the Professional Development Committee and took place in the CRC Libraries Forum.
Alfaro said his book was a personal memoir detailing the events and struggles he went through. He said the book began as a dissertation he wrote as he completed his “early years as an instructor at CRC.” As he wrote it and confronted the themes of his research, he says he was also confronted with an internal pain he was going through at the time, which stemmed from his experiences in a culture that trained them to “practice the patriarchal domination”.
Alfaro said writing dissertations was unwelcome in academic writing, and students were discouraged from making themselves present or known in their research. However, he also stated that he wanted to experiment and practice creativity while writing his memoirs.
“I tell people it took me two years to sit down and write the book, but it took me five years to think about it,” Alfaro said. “I had to write a lot of other stuff before I was ready to write the book. In some ways, some of the ideas that I started cultivating 10 years ago. The first ideas that I had in as an undergraduate student were also part of the process of writing this book, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
Alfaro said the memoir was not originally meant to be a book and that he “wrote it freely”. However, a friend of his read the memoirs and convinced him to publish them in book form. One of his main inspirations for writing it was his mother.
“My mother is the main inspiration because she gave me the language and the courage to start telling the story,” Alfaro said. “I was also deeply inspired by other writers and thinkers like Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, José E. Muñoz, etc.”
A question-and-answer session was also held with the audience after Alfaro finished reading excerpts from the book.
Lauren Ballesteros, Student Support Specialist at TRIO, said the read was inspiring and, being part of the Latinx community, some of the excerpts touched her.
“One part that resonated with me was when he mentioned that we were often told that we should live or be a certain way, and his exact words were that he was told to write about a certain way,” Ballesteros said. “A lot of times we’re put into certain groups and we’re not able to be ourselves.”
Melissa Sanchez, success coach and student support specialist for MI CASA, said she related to the topic of Alfaro’s book because she’s also a first-generation Latinx scholar. Sanchez said she’s ‘in the same boat’ because she’s writing a thesis that lines up with Alfaro’s experiences because she’s experienced some of ‘that pushback’ from other people. who had read his work.
“I think Jose is an amazing person to support,” Sanchez said. “I know he has amazing things to come in the future and this is just the beginning. His book is 100% worth reading.
Alina Cortes-Quintana, an analyst for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, said reading was a powerful experience to sit back and learn about the work that CRC faculty put in with a mind to the student experience. Cortes-Quintana also said the experience was empowering for herself as a woman of color.
“There were a lot of things that I was tied to, like ‘impostor syndrome,’ culture, belonging, college experiences and the desire to be authentic yourself,” Cortes-Quintana said. .