Dr. Eduardo Cabrera honored by International Latino Book Awards
Dr. Eduardo Cabrera, professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Millikin University, was recently honored at the 2018 International Latino Book Awards on Sept. 8 for his book "9 Short Stories of Immigrants in the United States." Dr. Cabrera was awarded first place in the category of Best Latino Focused Fiction Book.
Cabrera's book is being used in high school and college classes throughout the country, including his own classes at Millikin. Writers from more than 20 countries entered the competition. Stories in the book were based on Cabrera's experiences, including some of his own family members.
Cabrera currently teaches Spanish and Latin American Literature and Culture at Millikin and anchors a program for Millikin's student-run radio station WJMU. He has written a number of articles on literature, theatre, culture and politics that were published in professional journals in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Spain and the United States.
He has a keen interest in the theater and has written plays, but many of his works are focused on immigration.
"Immigration is important for me because I teach about immigration in my classes, I talk about immigration always on my radio show and since I am an immigrant, it's very important for me to fight for the people who are coming and having difficulties adapting to this country and I think all of them should have the same possibilities, the same open doors as I have," Cabrera said in a recent interview with the Herald & Review. "For me there is no difference between documented or undocumented immigrants. I fight for the benefits for all immigrants."
Another feature of Cabrera's classes at Millikin is the language labs offered to students, where they can practice conversing entirely in Spanish as a way to cement their skills. Millikin student Jasmin Coronel, a facilitator in the lab, was born in Chicago to Mexican-born parents.
"I try in facilitation to cut down on colloquial terms and just stick to standard Spanish," Coronel said. "This is a more engaging way to learn. You forget you're practicing. I think it's helpful when students get to hear how it should sound. If they study it on their own, they can read it but not necessarily pronounce it right."
One of the reasons Cabrera accepted his current position at Millikin is because his children are musicians.
"Millikin has one of the best music programs in the country, especially in jazz, and my children were very involved in jazz," Cabrera said. "They were very fortunate to study first at MacArthur High School with Jim Culbertson. They won all the contests."
Cabrera comes from a family of teachers and was always interested in theater, sociology, psychology, theatre and literature, and incorporates all those disciplines into his classes. Some classes are focused on Spanish language for the radio, poetry and music. He wants students to learn practical skills along with the language.
"I think it's very important to study and to be persistent," Cabrera said. "Every revolution starts with many failures. You have to struggle, you have to fight, you have to overcome many difficulties. That's how we become successful."