Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Return to the Huellas Index

Professor Elsa Cortina's Influence Remains Strong

Although Professor Elsa Cortina has officially been retired since 1990, she remains an influential presence in the Spanish department at Calvin College. As many of you know, she continued to work as director or assistant director of the Study in Spain program until 2001, a position in which many students had the opportunity to get to know her, to learn from her, and to appreciate her kindness and her dedication to Calvin College.

Professor Cortina now lives in Miami, Florida but she visits Grand Rapids at least once or twice each year (she also tries to return to Spain every year to visit her friends there). Last fall she graciously agreed to extend her time in Grand Rapids in order to participate in a very special project. This project, funded by the Kuyers Institute, is designed to record her life as a Cuban refugee, told in her own words, and to use that autobiography as the basis for a number of curricular units.

Professor Cortina sat down with Professors Marcie Pyper and Cynthia Slagter each afternoon for a week to share her life story. Beginning with her childhood in Cuba , through the turbulent times of the Cuban Revolution and the Cortina family's escape to the United States , to the years spent working at Calvin College , Professor Cortina recounted the trials and joys of her full and exciting life. These interviews were captured on video and represent a rich source of raw material for scholars and others. The material is currently being used in the development of Christian Spanish teaching materials. These materials will be field tested and will be available to the wider community in the future through the internet.

Return to the Huellas Index

Back to Top