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Rafael Ortiz Calderón

Rafael Ortiz CalderónRafael Ortiz Calderón

Rafael Ortiz Calderón was born in a small village in Tehuixtla, México. He and his family later moved to Cuernavaca. He obtained an education there from a Catholic primary school located in an orphanage close to his family´s home. He credits this school as his preparation to succeed later on in his higher education. His childhood was defined by the village medicine man, as we would call him in the United States. His name was Chencho, "el Diablo," because he never went to church, but he could fix an ailment you were suffering from with the plants he grew in his own backyard. While Rafael spent much of his childhood fearing Chencho, he later realized how much his presence meant to him. He carried Chencho´s message with him ever since he was little, and it has really defined who he is today. Rafael went to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México where he studied political science and foreign affairs. He attended workshops on literature and poetry which encouraged him to write his own poetry and his passion for literature continued to grow. He continued his education by teaching at the Instituto Fénix in Cuernavaca, México, where he taught grammar and conversational skills to foreign professionals and diplomats. He later received training in teaching Spanish as a second language and continued with his original passion, language. This passion was fostered in him as a child while hearing his father's family speak the Nahuatl language, an indigenous language in Mexico.  He began to compare that language with Spanish and has been fascinated by language ever since. Rafael immigrated to the United States in the 1980's, making a fresh start, which included the language. He did not speak English, but through his experience as a teacher and his love of the Spanish language, he opened the Experiencia Intercultural where he taught Spanish to adults and professionals. He was an active member in the Latino community in Chicago, especially in arts and literature. He also co-founded a literary publication called Fe de Erratas in which local Spanish writers published fiction, poetry, essays, art reviews, and commentary. He was also active in a Spanish language theater group, and several Latino community organizations. He continued to improve his English, so that eventually he could become a writer and obtain a PhD to research Spanish language acquisition and Spanish literature. During this time, he taught AP Spanish and AP Spanish Literature at a private high school in Chicago. With his classes, he wished to convey a love of literature and demonstrate that it is the highest expression of personal experience and the human condition. Literature acts as a reflection of the historical, political, and cultural context of the work. Rafael left teaching to study at Northeastern Illinois University. He graduated with honors with a BA degree, fulfilling all the required classes for a Spanish major.  He became the first person in his family to obtain an undergraduate degree. He is working towards a PhD at the University of Michigan and plans to make a worthy contribution to the academic body of research and knowledge on Spanish language and literature. With his writing, Rafael is working towards the Premio Nacional de Poesía Aguascalientes en México for his poetic essay Fe de erratas where he highlights the contradictions that we are facing in society today and the toll it is taking on our relationships and happiness.

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