Where’s Miguel? The story behind the name!
Before this trip I had not heard of Miguel Angel Asturias and I feel ignorant about that. Part of my job is to buy library materials for the Spanish department. Knowing I was going to Guatemala I sent off a quick note to one professor to ask if there are any books I should keep my eye out for while there. Moments later she replied, “right off the bat I can think of the two Nobel-prize winners–: Miguel Angel Asturias (Lit.) and Rigoberta Menchu (Peace).” Huh! Look at that; she had included the same name as the school! I think it’s time to see who this fellow is!
Often visitors ask at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, where is Miguel? Everyone wants to meet the man behind the school! Yet, as with many of our own educational institutions, the Academy is not named after its founder, but a distinguished Guatemalan writer and diplomat, Miguel Angel Asturias. Jorge Chojolán, the Academy’s founder, created the Academy in 1994 to fight for human rights and education. A Nobel Laureate such as Asturias is exactly the type of leader a school dedicated to social justice and creating world leaders should be named after!
Asturias himself was a founder of Popular University of Guatemala in the 1920s which was created to help students who could not afford to go to university. He gave lectures and wrote and eventually, after the fall of dictator Jorge Ubico, he became cultural attaché to the Guatemalan Embassy in Mexico and later a minister.
The 60s were busy for Asturias! They started for him in exile, but then he later returned to Guatemala. In 1966 Asturias was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and he was appointed the Guatemalan ambassador to France by President Julio Mendez Montenegro. It was in 1967 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.