The Texas A&M University-Kingsville University Leadership Series Committee concluded their Spring 2012 Lectureship Series on last Wednesday with a visit from Elva Treviño Hart.
Hart discussed her memoir “Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child,” which explores her life as an underprivileged Mexican-American youth in a family of migrant agricultural laborers.
“I had lots of other alternative titles, but when this title came in a dream, I knew it was the right title,” Hart said. “I think of a heart that, as opposed to an arrogant heart or a high-flying heart, a barefoot heart kind of means humble and truthful and real.”
As part of her visit, Hart read excerpts from “Barefoot Heart,” and said she did not “intend [her memoir] to be political.”
“To tell the truth about the way things are and were in South Texas and how things are in the migrant life from the inside-out–those were my two intentions.”
Because she was not allowed to speak Spanish in school, Hart began her lecture by asking the audience who could speak Spanish.
Hart continued, reading a prologue from her book, relating the life of a young Mexican-American in the 1950s and 60s.
“People that have had a similar life, it brings up a lot of feelings for them, and for young people, it’s occasionally inspirational,” said Hart. “My hope is to relate it to your life. I feel like I’m an ambassador from one world to another.”
This “mosaic of two languages and two cultures” is most telling with each chapter of Hart’s memoir beginning with Mexican dichos (adages). She aimed to be of service by “giving back and filling a hole that poverty left.”
Although it took several years before Hart’s memoir was published, her writing process was “not slow in starting.”
“It was like turning on a fire hose,” said Hart. “It was devastating; it was very painful a lot of the time.”
It was her father that motivated Hart in her life.
“He taught me to be a survivor, perseverance and to keep trying. I had a father who believed in education.”
With a master’s degree in computer science and engineering from Stanford University, Hart felt she was able to set her own limits when dealing with mathematics.
“It made me feel safe around numbers as opposed to literature and things that could be subjected,” said Hart. “Me and my determination were my limiting goals.”
Currently, Hart is working on a novel.