PERSPECTIVES - Dr. Emma Sepúlveda Pulvirenti
Chosen in 2007 for the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, Emma Sepúlveda Pulvirenti, Foundation Professor of Spanish, is known for the variety, quantity, and passion of her writing: poetry, essays, fiction, and scholarship in English and Spanish. At the same time, she maintains a full life as a teacher, researcher, administrator, and community activist.
How does Dr. Sepúlveda accomplish so much? Focus and perseverance: “I get up every single morning before the sun comes up and write,” she says. “Even if I’m traveling or giving a reading—no matter what—I get up with my laptop and write a couple of hours.”
A new book of Emma’s short stories has just been published in Chile, and she is currently updating We, Chile: Personal Testimonies of the Chilean Arpilleristas. This 1996 book is the only published compilation of direct testimony by women whose family members “disappeared” during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and who organized to find out what happened to them and to draw the world’s attention to their fate. The new edition will contain follow-up and new interviews in the context of democracy’s return to Chile.
In addition, Emma is completing her first book of humor: a look at American idiosyncracies from the immigrant’s point of view. She has enjoyed this project, drawing on her own immigrant experiences and more recent adventures “living with an American son and an American husband.” It’s good, she says, to laugh about the things that confront Latin American newcomers in U.S. culture: American punctuality, driving habits, holiday customs, even politics. “Politics has always been extremely funny to me,” Emma adds.
Emma Sepúlveda knows politics. She has worked to empower the Latino community through programs, advocacy, voter registration, caucus and convention participation—even a run for Nevada State Senate. She has been a longtime advocate for immigration reform. Do You Hear My Accent When I Write?, a collection of her columns written for the Reno Gazette Journal, appeared last year.
Instrumental in establishing the Latino Research Center, Emma recently completed “Nosotros por nosotros,” an ambitious photography project: five hundred cameras were distributed to Latinos throughout Nevada, and when the photographs came in, Emma said, “I printed every single one.” She coordinated the exhibition of selected works, and she is working with a designer and providing text for a book of the photographs.
Other projects of the Center include a cooperative study with the state health department on Latino health issues, a demographic study of Latinos in Nevada, and, with UNR Cooperative Extension, the largest assessment to date of the needs of immigrants in Nevada.
In the classroom Emma wants her students to learn “that we live in such a diverse world and that we have to honor that diversity. . . . UNR students have that privilege—to experience the richness of so many cultures, lifestyles, philosophies, and political thoughts that they have on this campus.” Students understand that her hopes for them reach beyond the classroom. One student described her memorably: “Dr. Sepúlveda lives what she teaches.”
“That is the biggest compliment: I live what I teach,” says Emma. “I am doing it.”
Read more about Emma Sepulveda Pulvirenti:
Sepulveda’s latest book gives thoughtful voice to RGJ column
2007 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame recipients honored
Four Named to Nevada Writers Hall of Fame
Peeping into the Nevada Latino community