Elva Treviño Hart, author of Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child, is the featured guest for this year’s One Community/One Book program. She will speak Friday, February 24, 2012 at 12:00 noon in the Holly Auditorium on the campus of the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. The program will be followed by a book signing.
The program can also be viewed via videoconferencing in Harlingen (RAHC 2.120) and Laredo (AB 1.106). Update (2/23): For those who can’t attend in person, the program will also be webcast live. Tune in at http://bit.ly/ETH0224 at 12 noon CST on the day of the presentation.
“My whole childhood, I never had a bed,” Hart’s story begins. It traces her journey from rural South Texas and the beet farms of the Upper Midwest to the graceful campus of Stanford University and, eventually, corporate America.
The book vividly details the deprivation and discrimination faced by the Treviños, along with their joys, triumphs and everyday life. Hart went on to earn degrees in theoretical mathematics and computer science/engineering, which allowed her to make more money than she had ever dreamed possible. Still, she felt out of place, and she ultimately left the corporate world and used writing to bridge her past and present.
The importance of storytelling is a thread that is woven throughout Barefoot Heart. As a young child in the mid- 1950s, Hart would wait by the family car during the long hours that her parents and her five siblings worked in the beet fields of Minnesota and Wisconsin. She would make up stories to pass the time. Later in the evenings, the family would gather to listen and to tell stories. In a world without toys, books or television, storytelling was both art and entertainment.
In Barefoot Heart, Hart gathers the stories of several lifetimes within one cover. Each chapter begins with a dicho, or saying. She says she organized her writing in this way to honor her father, who sometimes would make up dichos on the spot, though he also knew many traditional Mexican folk sayings. Each dicho carries the same message of the chapter that follows. “I wanted to take people with me to the migrant camps and the fields so they could see what it was like,” she told an interviewer last March, when Barefoot Heart was selected for a community read in Huntington Beach, California.
“I didn’t start out wanting to write a book,” she says. Instead, she signed up for a “write your life story” class at a local YMCA. One of her classmates loved Hart’s stories so much she shared them with her husband, a communications professor, who decided to feature them at an annual short story event he hosted. At the end of the evening, the professor got a standing ovation, and people said they would like to buy the book. “That’s when I decided it might be a book,” she says.
Elva Trevino Hart’s February 24 presentation on the UT Health Science Center’s Long campus is part of One Community/One Book 2012. Partners in this year’s program include the San Antonio Public Library– where Hart will speak on the evening of Thursday, February 23, the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, and the Academic Center for Excellence in Teaching.
The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
More information about One Community/One Book can be found on the project website: http://library.uthscsa.edu/2012/01/onebook/.
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Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian with Sheila Hotchkin, Media Communications Officer