Northern Shores Southern Borders: Revelations of a Bilingual Life

Northern Shores Southern Borders: Revelations of a Bilingual Life

by Janet Kurtz
Northern Shores Southern Borders: Revelations of a Bilingual Life

Northern Shores Southern Borders: Revelations of a Bilingual Life

by Janet Kurtz


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August, 1968. Fifteen-year-old preacher's kid leaves her small Midwestern town (where pronouncing "tortilla" correctly meant you were bilingual, and eating one made you multicultural) to spend three weeks in Saltillo, Mexico, on a language-study cultural immersion stay. A taste of chili peppers, machismo, and mariachi not only improved her vocabulary, but led her to enroll in a college semester in Spain with its Moorish palaces, historical conquistadores, and life under the rule of a dictator. But it was the day Lorena entered the classroom with her Guatemalan newspaper reporting of Mayan massacres, United States military intervention, and fleeing refugees that radically shifted her emerging world view. The once carefree teenaged adventurer seeking bilingual fluency was unknowingly drawn into a lifelong journey as a "code-switching" professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, an on-call translator, community activist, and human rights advocate.

More than a memoir, Northern Shores/ Southern Borders takes the readers to places they do not know and introduces the people belonging to the faces inhabiting them. Spanish is the thread weaving together injured migrant workers, international exchange students' attempts at acclimation to north woods life, and the seldom told story of Central American refugees channeled through the 1980s Overground Railroad from Texas detention centers, through Minnesota, to crossing into Canada. Spanish - the bridge between cultures; a connector of people, a kaleidoscope of perspectives, enriching each experience. New revelations offered expanded options for life enhancing blends and deeper reflections on ones' own foundations.

"Gifts await you. . . many just outside your comfort zones." ~ Janet Kurtz


"Journey with this quintessential Spanish professor as she relates her adventures in bridging her own Northern Minnesota/Wisconsin upbringing with Spanish-speaking cultures. Heart-warming, sometimes somber, always insightful - her perspective of the world is a true delight to read."

- Chip Borkenhagen, publisher, Riverplace Press

"Gaining understanding of others' points of view is crucial in these turbulent times. Jan's humble writing will broaden your understanding while charming and encouraging you at the same time."

- Christy Amerud, editor, Take a Second Look, Inc.

"I highly recommend Jan's literary adventure; it is so informative and truly is a community-based work. Jan's style is so engaging and fun and there are definitely laugh out loud moments--watch out for the unbaptized water! I enjoyed reading of her travels as I also love those special places in some of the same amazing Spanish-speaking countries."

- Susan W., Brainerd, MN

"Thank you for teaching us and opening windows into both ends of our world."

- Sister Jan, St. Cloud, MN

"What a woman, what a life...what a book! I can't put it down. I love the way you write and more importantly what you say. You were wise beyond your years at 15. I'm amazed that you were grown up enough to be able to go off on your own like you did."

- Mary R., Green Valley, AZ

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781733942386
Publisher: Janet Kurtz
Publication date: 04/09/2020
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 559,209
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Janet Kurtz was born in Illinois, raised in Wisconsin and moved to Minnesota where she received her BA in Spanish and Masters in Latin American Studies at Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota. After a decade of teaching high school Spanish, she joined the faculty at Central Lakes College, Brainerd, Minnesota. There she created and coordinated the Cultural Thursday series, study trips to Mexico and Spain, Latino festivals and international teacher exchanges. Being bilingual led to translation for Central American refugees, area hospitals, churches and for local immigrants. She is a frequent contributor to "Lake Country Journal" and "Her Voice", two award winning Minnesota magazines. Her favorite place is the family cabin on a remote lake in the Nicolet National Forest.
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