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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

2011 faculty lecturer fuses history and culture

David Vela (Colby Carter / The Inquirer)

David Vela immediately engages his students when he walks into his 9:30 a.m. “Survey of Late English Literature” class, chatting and bantering with them as he approaches the front of the classroom.

As he reads off the roll, he occasionally pauses to smile and ask a student how he is doing or to refer to an email sent by another the previous day.

When he gets to the name of a student who is absent this morning, he appears surprised. “Well that is highly unusual,” he says. “She is always here.”

Vela’s students and colleagues appreciate this affability, saying it appears in both his personality and his teaching.

“He’s a fantastic teacher,” says Sam Reaber, a fourth-semester DVC student and a member of this class.  “He is very engaging and actually makes poetry readable.”

English department chair Nancy Zink agrees.

“He’s an excellent colleague,” she says. “He always has good things to say — positive things.

 “You know he’s being supportive: you know he’s trying to help you be successful.”

This attitude, Zink says, is why he was selected by the Faculty Senate as DVC’s Faculty Lecturer for 2011. He was awarded this honor after being nominated by his colleagues and submitting an abstract of his talk.

Vela will give his lecture, ” Latin, American and English: Jorge Luis Borges and Self-Discovery” at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 and again at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 in the DVC Trophy Room.

Vela has lectured at many conferences, such as at U.C. Davis, for the Irish Literary and Historical Society, for the Irish Studies West Conference in Morelia Mexico, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lecturing at such conferences, he says,  helps him in his teaching.

“I have to write for an audience that is varied, often sophisticated, and most certainly interested in the material,” he says of lecturing. “… I never assign to my students challenges in writing I have not encountered myself, and I am always encountering them.”

Recently, Vela’s work appeared in the Chicano-Latino literary blog, Somos En Escrito.

He was hired at DVC in 1998, having taught classes in literature, composition and comparative literature previously at Los Medanos College and Dominican University.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Yale University, specializing in the works of William Wordsworth. Vela received his master’s degree in English literature, with a specialty in James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and T.S. Eliot, at Claremont Graduate University.

“Literature is the mother discipline for the understanding of all of the other disciplines, even science,” Vela says, “because before we had formal science we had myth, and myth was religion, history, poetry and science.”

Writing, he says, can be challenging –mentally, emotionally and even physically. Yet, this doesn’t hinder his passion for it.

“It is one more way of experiencing and remembering life, a way of living twice, if you will, and a way of committing to memory significant things,” Vela says. “Language is powerful. My writing allows me to test ideas and to share them with my students.”

Teaching, he says, enhances his writing.

“Teachers become teachers to continue to learn,” he says. “I would not be a very good writer if I did not have my students and others to share ideas with.

“‘Literature is like love and bread,’ Carlos Fuentes writes, ‘they are meant to be shared, not hoarded, and they are better enjoyed shared rather than savored alone.'”

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About the Contributor
Annie Sciacca, Editor-in-chief
Co-editor-in-chief, fall 2010.

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2011 faculty lecturer fuses history and culture