International Women’s Club

International Women’s Club

International Women’s Club welcomed Fulbright Scholar Dr. Julie Hempel with a Mexican Christmas celebration on Dec 5. The group met in the Sherman home of Julie Ellis-Starr.

Hempel joined the Austin College faculty in 2002 bringing a resume of published scholarly articles and translated works from Mexico and Peru. In addition to teaching Spanish language classes, she teaches a variety of courses on Latin American, Mexican, and Mexican American Literature.

In her presentation, she described Mexican cultural changes through the introduction of some of the most influential women in Mexican history.

Malinalli or la Malinche was the translator, servant and concubine of Spanish conquistador Herman Cortez. She could be called the indigenous mother of all Mexican peoples but was also seen as a traitor by helping Cortez conquer the Aztec empire.

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, nun, poet, playwright and philosopher, spoke out for the education of women.

Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton was the first female Mexican author to write novels in English. Leonor Villegas was a political activist, teacher and journalist who founded the international Mexican American relief service, La Cruz Blanca, during the Mexican Revolution. Both women were in a unique position to view both sides of the border. Before the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Mexican women traditionally worked in the home and fields with their men and wielded little political, economic or social clout. With the revolution came opportunities in many fields such as becoming writers, journalists and even soldiers.

Frida Kahlo, wife of painter Degas Rivera, brought her own non conventional views of women while commanding higher prices for her art than any of her Latin American colleagues.

Rosario Castellanos, sociologist, poet and novelist, is the first person to publish a sociology thesis on the status of women in Mexico. She was also an activist for women’s rights and an ambassador to Israel.

In Mexico, Christmas is centered on the birth of Christ with a month long fiesta starting with the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12. It continues through the posadas, Noche Buena and Navidad. Three Kings Day on Jan. 6 concludes the festivities.

Members were treated to handmade tamales, Spanish rice and layered salad with Tres Leches (Three Milks) cake for dessert.

Co-chairwomen for the event were Sherry Simmons, Mary Davies and Katy Yates. Honorary chairman was Bert Garcia for his authenic recipes and tamales. Other committee members included Nancy Barrett, Bette Ann Pittman, Sangria Maker June Tyson, Wrynn Wilkins, Diana Williams, Carolyn Vogel, Rita Turner, Eleanor Via, Linda Sullivan, Harriet Steward, Cassie Scarbrough, Elaine Pendergrass, Kathy Munson, Nancy Terry, Jo Ann Riha, Wanda Poe, Margie Braswell, Evelyn Clutter, Nancy Hampton, Vera Hilliard and Peggy Ang.