Spring 2011 Diversity Events

The Center for Professional Development’s Diversity Committee was pleased to co-sponsor four diversity events in the spring 2011 semester.

To learn more about a specific event, click on the appropriate link:

Marjorie Agosin

The Art of Witnessing: Poetry and Social Justice in Latin America

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brief Description

Black and white head shot photo of Marjorie AgosinAgosin believes that activism and poetry in Latin America often go hand in hand and illuminate our cultural understanding of our cultural and political imagination. In her talk, she will refer to and address the work of contemporary Latin American poets that have spoken on behalf of Human Rights and have created a poetics of witnessing.

She will also speak about her own work as a poet and the themes she explores such as exile, censorship and the role of the artist during times of repression.

Her autobiographical writings focus on her family background and her personal experience of displacement as a Jewish Chilean woman in the U.S. She defines herself as Latin American, rather than Latina, and considers herself primarily a poet. Cultural translation is an essential aspect of her works as a committed writer, educator, and scholar.

Click here to read the biography of Marjorie Agosin .

Co-sponsored by:
The Office of Faculty & Staff Development’s Diversity Committee, the White Fund Lecture Series and Student Activities

Black History Month Read-In

Monday, February 28, 2011

Featuring guest NECC student writers: Iat Azure & Lathon Jones Dowling

Close up photo of Iat Azure, smiling Black and white photo of Lathon Jones-Dowling

Co-sponsored by:
The Office of Faculty & Staff Development’s Diversity Committee, the Contemporary Affairs Club,
and the Liberal Arts Program

Organized by English Professor Lis Espinoza

Raul E. Ybarra

Communication Difficulties and Cultural Differences Between Latino Students and Anglo-Mainstream Instructors: How Cultural Differences Impact Teaching, Learning and Student Success

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Brief Description:

Photo of Raul E. Ybarra sitting at a desk with bookshelves behind him.
I plan to begin at looking at the writings from Latinos in one of the Basic Writing courses. Understanding what is transpiring in the writing of these students will give us an insight into the the negative impressions Latino students may have about the writing process and English courses.

I suggest that when we teach writing to Latino students, we are teaching more than just grammar and style. We may also be asking them to change their cultural identity because, without even realizing it, we may expect these students to change how they think. Many Latino students will experience this pattern as confusing, and perhaps an attempt to change who they are. This pattern of teaching may cause Latinos students to feel marginalized because of the cultural implications that the model supports. This further suggests a rationale for the pervasiveness (and function) of this structure in education, especially when teaching to minorities—and in particular, Latino students.

In much of my research, I discuss how instructors unintentionally may not only expect students to demonstrate this particular model in their writing, but also expect them to live within this model (Ybarra, 2000). Latino students often feel they have very few options available to them. One option is that they accept that they are not very bright or intelligent; that they will never understand writing, so they shouldn’t even try. Another option is that they are different culturally and that writing and English courses are trying to change them, but this change is without guarantee.

It is understandable why some students see learning to write academic discourse as a hostile and invasive course of action. If this is the case, how can we as teachers be aware of the way we teach and the models we adopt in our curriculum so that we can provide the structures and methodologies that would support success among these students?

Click here to read the biography of Raul Ybarra.

Co-sponsored by:
The Office of Faculty & Staff Development’s Diversity Committee, the White Fund Lecture Series and Student Activities

Sonia Nazario

Enrique’s Journey and America’s Immigration Dilemma

Friday, April 8, 2011

Brief Description:

Portrait photo of Sonia Nazario
Using Pulitzer-winning photographs, Sonia Nazario takes you inside the world of millions of immigrant women who have come to the U.S. as single mothers, and the children they leave behind in their home countries in Central America and Mexico. She discusses the modern-day odyssey many child migrants–some as young as 7, all of them traveling alone–make many years later riding on top of freight trains through Mexico in their quest to reunify with their mothers in the U.S.

Nazario, who spent three months riding on top of these trains to tell the story of one child migrant named Enrique, will describe how that journey changed her view of migrants. She’ll discuss why the three solutions to America’s immigration crisis–the same ones again being proposed by President Obama–simply won’t work, and will propose novel alternatives that hold great promise.

Click here to read the biography of Sonia Nazario.

Co-sponsored by:
The Office of Faculty & Staff Development’s Diversity Committee, the White Fund Lecture Series and Student Activities