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Lazos “embraces Latinidad”

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By Kristen McLaughlin, Texas State RRC Graduate Research Assistant

I have had the pleasure of working on the communications team for Lazos 2012, an event which celebrates students and filmmakers from the U.S. and countries in Latin America. This year’s theme is “Embracing Latinidad”.

Not only have I had the opportunity to be on the student communications team for the event this semester as a part of our class, but I will see the event come to fruition this today, April 27 at Texas State University-San Marcos in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom from 7-10 p.m. Thanks to El Centro (the Center for the study of Latino Media & Markets), student organizations and community sponsors, the event is free. However, registration was required for the event.

This is only the second year for Lazos, but we anticipate a good turnout. Lazos is the closing ceremony for Puntos De Vista, a Latin documentary competition which involves students from Colombia, Peru, Spain, Mexico, Chile and the U.S. The students participating in the competition will find out their ranking at the awards ceremony at Lazos. This year’s film festival included 14 documentaries by students in the participating countries. Student filmmakers will be honored at Lazos.

In addition to awarding students, Lazos will include special entertainment from Texas State’s Mariachi Nueva Generacion as well as Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensembles Salsa del Rio and Orquesta del Rio. Salsa del Rio was the first Latin Jazz Ensemble created at Texas State. The group is dedicated to the performance of music from Latin America, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic and Mexico. Orquesta del Rio also focuses on music from these countries. Popular styles include Mambo, Son-Montuno, Cha Cha, Bolero and Morengue.

The student group Mariachi Nueva Generacion, also a Texas State student group, performs the Mexican art form known as Mariachi. They perform many different styles, including Huapango, Bolero, Polka and many others.

The student communications team included myself and three of my graduate student peers (Shannon Delaney, Eileen Suarez and Doug Seliger), but so many others have spent months coordinating this event and Puntos De Vista. Organizing Lazos was an idea that professors Dr. Sindy Chapa and Olga Mayoral-Wilson thought of when they were brainstorming about Puntos De Vista.  Students from organizations and student workers at El Centro have eagerly assisted them with both Lazos and Puntos De Vista.

This year’s Lazos event is being co-hosted by the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc.

“To be a part of an event such as Lazos has meant a lot to Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc,” said Catherine Arriaza-Ortiz, SIA treasurer and Lazos committee member.

Other organizations and departments are also participating in the event, including Alpha Upsilon SIA, Ballet Folklorico, Communication Disorder Bilingual Cognate, Latinas Unidas, Love Across Borders, LULAC, Sigma Delta Pi, the Texas State Sociology Department, and the Texas State International Student Association.

Lazos participants will be able to learn from Keynote Speaker Robert Bard, the CEO of Latina Style Magazine. In his 11 years leading the company, he has developed four signature programs. These include the LATINA Style Business Series, the most successful ongoing business development program for Latina business owners in the nation; the LATINA Style 50 Awards and Diversity Leaders Conference, reporting on the top 50 companies for Latinas to work for in the U.S.; the National LATINA Symposium recognizing Latina achievement in all areas and professions; and the Distinguished Military Service Awards, honoring outstanding Latinas for their military Service.

For those who want to learn from accomplished professionals such as Bard and celebrate student filmmakers, Lazos is the perfect way to end the semester. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Hope to see you tonight!

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The Abacus, the Overhead Projector, and Classroom Technology

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By Jael Perales

Classroom Technology at RRCThe Round Rock Campus is set to host the Technology for Today’s Classroom workshop on Saturday, April 28. This full-day workshop will address topics related to technology and education, and that got me thinking about my own experiences with technology as a student.

My first calculator (well, besides my own brain) was the easiest thing I could get my hands on; namely, my fingers and toes. As you would expect, the math eventually became harder than what my 10 digits could manage, so the next tool provided to me was a basic calculator. You know the type, perfect for doing all kinds of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and apparently something to do with %. But this too was insufficient to tackle the math problems of middle school. Once algebra came into my life, the ol’ number cruncher had seen better days. So, once again, I upgraded, and this time perhaps more than I needed to. You see, I began competing in calculator-based academic competitions, so the tool provided to me was the kind that could handle problems beyond my grade level. I was solving equations, converting units, tackling trigonometry…and I hadn’t even met those issues in my own mathematics classes! And yet, even then, I was limited in what I could do. To advance further as a mathematics competitor and eager, young scholar, I needed something that could handle bigger equations, more complex situations, matrices, and, eventually, graphs. Thus came the powerful graphing calculator and, so it seemed, near limitless capabilities.

But, as luck would have it, I went on to college and was presented with a whole new array of problems. Real-world physics problems to be more precise. And I must say, even the powerhouse that was my graphing calculator was unable to stand up to the challenge. At this point, the only other powerful computational engine available that wasn’t the human brain was, you guessed it, the personal computer. I was introduced to a computer program that could handle giant, complex, mountains of math as easily as I can click the mouse attached to the computer I am writing with now. Suddenly, I looked at newer, more ambitious mathematical projects with a sense of boldness I had never known before.

It is only now that I see the neck-and-neck race that had been occurring in my academic experiences. The technology I used in math seemed to be the deciding factor in what level of math I could study. Or was it that the level of the math determined the tools that were required? It is no secret that technology and education go hand in hand. What one can teach is often directly related to what one can use to teach and learn. When the abacus was the primary tool for doing math, what a student was expected to learn and do was miles behind what most elementary students can handle today. The educator was limited in what he or she could teach. But, as we have all seen, when the technology available to both students and educators advanced, so too did the level of information being taught. In other words, I can teach a 3rd grader how to handle multiplication problems with a calculator that the student may have never been able to accomplish with just an abacus.

Classroom equipment has also experienced significant upgrades. I remember my teachers working out math problems on an overhead projector and showing slightly dated science videos on VHS. Now, teachers can display a computer desktop on a hardwired screen and use their hands or other devices to draw students in with high-tech visuals and up-to-date streaming videos. Advances such as this allows teachers to draw on a wealth of knowledge and visual aids like never before, which not only improves the way they can teach and keep students engaged, but also allows them to teach content that would otherwise have been too high-level.

And you, ever plugged-in college student, how much more useful to you is an educational environment that synchs up with the technology you are accustomed to already? Class projects posted on a social media platform, textbooks on e-readers, and class participation using smartphones. These are just some of the many ways educators can interact with students in and out of the classroom. And “out of the classroom” learning is key in expanding what educators can teach and students can learn. In reality, technology is even expanding the classroom itself.

For educators, the first response to this reality is pretty straightforward. With all the technology out there, where does a teacher or professor even begin? A good place to start is at the upcoming Technology for Today’s Classroom workshop. The event, sponsored by Kappa Delta Pi, Dell, and ePals, is a full-day technology workshop with hands-on exploration and sessions that address 21st Century Learning.  The current list of speakers includes teachers from AISD, PISD, RRISD, DELL, and ePals, with more to come. The event will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Texas State University Round Rock Campus. Registration is free for all Texas State Education majors, but space is limited. Go to http://www.planetreg.com/E4414551083153 to register. The registration deadline is April 22, 2012 at 10:00 p.m. I encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity. Expanding what educators can do in the classroom is the key to expanding the capabilities of students. I personally can’t wait to see the abacus of tomorrow!

Rome in 6 days or less

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Article and photos by Dr. Edna Rehbein, Ph.D., Texas State RRC Director

Dr. Rehbein's niece, Vickie, at John Cabot University

Dr. Rehbein's niece, Vickie, at John Cabot University

Over Spring Break, I traveled to Rome to visit my niece who is studying there at John Cabot University. JCU is a liberal arts university in Rome with students from various countries. My niece, Vickie, is perfecting her Italian and studying Communications there and has had an incredible semester.   The weather was perfect – a brisk 50 degrees most of the time. I made a point of actually sitting and observing the crowds, the local artists and musicians, and the incredible fountains and artwork that are found in every direction throughout the city.  Piazza Navona is my favorite.  It has three incredible fountains.

You cannot help but wonder what life must have been like there in the 1500 and 1600s when the majority of the statues and artwork were created.  The statues, fountains, and churches are massive and ornate with incredible attention to every tiny detail carved into the marble.

Bernini's St. Teresa in Ecstacy

Bernini's St. Teresa in Ecstacy

My favorite statue is Bernini’s St. Teresa in Ecstasy.  If you have seen the movie, “Angels and Demons”, you will recognize the statue from the movie.

Umbrella Trees in Rome

Umbrella Trees in Rome

And just when you finally come to grasps with the contributions and history of that period, it hits you that Rome’s history actually goes back many more centuries  and that the Roman Forum and the Coliseum represent another highly advanced era that dates back even earlier in time.  There are some gorgeous trees called the “umbrella pines” that grow on the Palatine Hill. They look like they have been pruned so they only have branches at the top, but that is actually how they grow and they tower over all the ruins.

I was especially fortunate to be in Rome at a time when 100 documents from the Pope’s Secret Archives are on exhibit in the Lux in Arcana Exhibit at the Capitolini Museum.  The exhibit includes documents from kings, czars, sultans, and other world leaders from several centuries.  Included are, the original depositions of over 200 Knights Templar in the 1200s; King Henry VIII of England’s letter requesting the Pope to grant him a divorce;  Martin Luther’s excommunication document; letters from Galileo, Bonaparte, St. Bernadette, St. Theresa, and even the Pope’s appeal for the release of prisoners from the concentration camps of WWII.  This exhibit was truly incredible.  It will be on display through September of this year.  No photographs allowed indoors, of course.

St. Peter's Square after mass

St. Peter's Square after mass

Going to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, hearing the Pope bless the masses in various languages, watching the fervor of the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, seeing the massive Castel Sant’Angelo, and celebrating the “festa della donna” – International Women’s Day – a day when all women are treated special – were all pretty nice as well.   But while these sites were incredible, you cannot visit Rome without enjoying its culinary delights and the warm hospitality.  We had gracious service wherever we went. The food and gelato were awesome.

gelato

gelato

Jill Seidenberger’s adventure in Italy

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Article and Photos By Jill Seidenberger, Student Development Specialist

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy

If you have graced my office with your presence, you may have noticed three pictures of what I thought Italy would like look – tall cypress trees lining the long and winding driveways, scenic views from a hilltop, and vineyard upon vineyard.  I suppose the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was on my mind and much more of what I expected than I realized.  Don’t get me wrong, Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome each have their highlights, but it was the scenery that drew me to Italy.

Montalcino, Italy

Montalcino, Italy

Finally, six days into the trip, I experienced what I fondly refer to as my Italy, on a half-day tour from Siena into the countryside of Montalcino.

Yes, tall cypress trees lining the long driveways, scenic views, villas, and vineyards!  The city of Siena was quaint and cobblestoned.  The hotel had one of the most beautiful views overlooking a valley.  Ah, Siena…

Overlooking Assisi, Italy

Overlooking Assisi, Italy

Though I fell in love with Siena and the surrounding countryside landscape and thought that it would be my number one Italian city, it was Assisi that made it to the top of my list.  Assisi is even more quaint as it is nestled on the side of a hill.  It is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever experienced.  And, it has a restaurant that served the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted!  Speaking of food… oh, the food, fantastically fresh!  Everywhere!  In exchange for my money, I brought back a few unwanted souvenirs – a few extra pounds to prove just how good the food was!

We finished the trip in Rome and visited many of the historical highlights that the ancient city is known for – the Vatican, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Fountain of Trevi (assuring a return trip to Italy completed by tossing coins into the fountain – legend has it), just to name a few.  With a city so rich in history, it was simply amazing to walk the streets that were created so long ago.  It was also in Rome that I was able to fuse my love of potatoes (yes, it’s the German coming out in me) with my love of Italian food – pizza topped with potatoes!!

It truly was a vacation of a lifetime that excited all of the senses.  A few special thank you’s to: the One Stop Center staff for covering for me, Travel Guidebooks by Rick Steves, the incredibly knowledgeable tour guide in Rome, Claire with Devine Tours, and to her husband, Charlie, who set up a special Vatican Radio tour for us.  Grazie! Grazie! Grazie!

Jill Seidenberger visited Italy during Spring Break. Stay tuned to the blog for another story of a fascinating Spring Break trip to Italy by Dr. Edna Rehbein, Director of the Texas State University Round Rock Campus.