June 2011 Newsletter (archive)

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June Spotlight: Literature Professor Marisel Moreno Explores Community-Based Learning

Marisel Moreno

In this issue of New Horizons we turn the spotlight on Marisel Moreno, a fellow of the Institute and assistant professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Moreno gravitated toward teaching and researching the field of Latino Caribbean literature. She has published articles on Puerto Rican and Dominican literatures in the US and in 2009 received an American Association of University Women Fellowship to work on her book manuscript, Ties That Bind: Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland, which is forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press. Moreno describes how her teaching has recently taken on a new dimension:

About three years ago I began reading about the pedagogy of “service-learning” or CBL [“community-based learning”], and felt that my outlook on teaching was transformed. In a way, I felt that I had finally found the “missing link” in my Latino/a literature courses. It was a way to bridge theory and experience in order to encourage, hopefully, a more powerful learning experience for my students. I taught my first CBL course, “Migrant Voices,” in Fall 2010, for which I had won a Course Development Grant from the Center for Social Concerns. The experience exceeded my expectations at so many levels. Because one of the challenges my students faced working with the youth at [local community organization] La Casa [de Amistad] had to do with the children’s racial/ethnic stereotypes and prejudices, I decided to make race and ethnicity the focus of my next course.

In Fall 2010 Moreno received a second course development grant, this one through the Institute for Latino Studies and the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, which allowed her to create a follow-up course, “Race and Ethnicity in US Latino/a Literature and Community-Based Learning.” The course was designed to expose students to the complexities behind racial and ethnic categories by combining the study of literary works by several Latin American and Caribbean authors with concrete exposure to social and cultural issues through volunteer work at La Casa de Amistad. At the end of the semester students produced “Mi familia y yo,” a bilingual booklet about family traditions featuring the artwork of La Casa’s children, as well as three ILS Student Research Briefs that explore South Bend Latino youths’ perceptions of race, ethnicity, politics, literature, and art.

One of the highlights of the semester was the visit of La Casa youth enrolled in the program Adelante America to the Institute’s Julián Samora Library, where Institute Librarian Tracy Grimm conducted a research workshop and students had the opportunity to interact with members of the Notre Dame MEChA chapter. For La Casa students, seeing this space dedicated to preserving art and archival materials from the local and national Latino community was an eye-opening experience that instilled pride in their heritage.

“This approach,” says Moreno, “sought to expand my students’ and La Casa students’ ideas about these topics and to encourage dialogue. I am proud of the work conducted by my students and the youth at La Casa. It was an amazing learning experience for everyone involved.” Moreno’s students agree. Here is what some of them had to say about the course:

“As we discussed in this class, cultural competency is just as important as linguistic competency when learning a new language. This CBL experience provides us with the cultural training and understanding we do not receive in the literature classroom.”
“Living the issues you study in class is a better learning experience. I probably won’t remember what I learned in Textual Analysis, but I’ll remember what I learned this semester.”
“I see this class as a true manifestation of everything we learned. The connection between history, literature, and reality became more tangible in this class”

Because of the success of the course, Moreno hopes to continue incorporating the CBL pedagogy component in her literature courses.


Richman Receives Grant to Study Gender and Savings
Karen Richman, director of academic affairs and of the Institute’s Center for Migration and Border Studies, has been awarded a grant by the National Endowment for Financial Education. The project, entitled “The Significance of Gender for Savings and Retirement,” will study the changing influence of gender on savings and retirement. Professor Richman, a cultural anthropologist, will collaborate on the project with Teresa Ghilarducci, a leading expert on pensions at the New School for Social Research. Together, the two scholars bring the broad perspective necessary to craft a new way of thinking about and studying the dynamic non-economic factors that affect men’s and women’s economic behavior generally and their preparedness for retirement in particular. The case study will be conducted in Chicago’s Latino community, building upon their current research, which is also generously funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Guzmán Receives US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Grant
Institute Research Director Juan Carlos Guzmán has received two research grants from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) for $215,000. Guzmán will study the importance of the landscaping industry for Latinos’ socioeconomic and intergenerational mobility. He will also evaluate a USHCC initiative to make Latino businesses more environmentally friendly.

Aragón/Letras Latinas Profiled in Hispanic Executive
Letras Latinas Director Francisco Aragón was profiled in a recent issue of Hispanic Executive magazine in their Arts & Culture section. The two-page piece highlights his book publications as a poet and editor as well as the work he carries out for the Institute, with particular attention to the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and the Letras Latinas Residency Fellowship. The article also makes mention of his work as vice president of the board for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). The issue in which the piece appears can be accessed online at http://hispanicexecutive.com/2010/12/janfeb_2011/, with the profile appearing on pages 25–26.

Martínez Receives Outstanding Graduate Teaching Awards
Institute Research Visitor Daniel Martínez was awarded a 2010–2011 College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award at the University of Arizona. Martínez’s nominator cited his “exceptional teaching record” and his “competence, commitment, and mastery.” Martínez was also awarded a 2010–2011 Bunis Graduate Teaching Award by the Department of Sociology at the University of Arizona. Martínez teaches courses on the sociology of race and ethnicity, criminology, and juvenile delinquency. While conducting research at the Institute, Martínez has continued to teach online classes for the University of Arizona. He is scheduled to teach the course “Undocumented Immigrants” at Notre Dame in the fall of 2011.

Institute Co-hosts Community Health Engagement Retreat
The Institute for Latino Studies and the Indiana University School of Medicine—South Bend co-hosted the Community Health Engagement Program’s (CHEP) Northern Indiana regional retreat on May 13 at the Indiana University School of Medicine—South Bend. The aim of the retreat was to begin a collaborative process to ensure that research has the greatest impact on Hoosier health by identifying and setting priorities for future research in and with our Northern Indiana communities. CHEP (http://www.indianactsi.org/chep) promotes cooperation among community partners throughout Indiana to improve research, health, and healthcare by enhancing connections among researchers, health care providers, and other community stakeholders.

Duarte Guest Speaker at Sociology Recognition Ceremony
On May 5 Institute Fellow Cynthia V. Duarte was the guest speaker at Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology graduate senior luncheon and recognition ceremony, which marked the induction of sociology honor students into Alpha Kappa Delta, the International Sociology Honor Society. Duarte spoke about influences on her work and how her research fits within the mission of Alpha Kappa Delta: research in service to humanity.

Brown-Gort in Washington
On May 16–17 Institute Associate Director Allert Brown-Gort represented the Institute at the first annual conference of the Mexican American Leadership Initiative (MALI), a joint initiative of the US-Mexico Foundation and the US State Department.

National Museum Commission Submits Report to Congress
The National Museum for the American Latino Commission submitted its final report to the Congress for the consideration of making this museum part of the Smithsonian. ILS Director Gilberto Cardenas, a commission member, took part in an event to mark the submission of the report and attended the Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Institute Hosts Medical Students
The Institute hosted seven medical students from Puebla, Mexico, on May 13 to kick off their four-week visiting rotation at Memorial Hospital. Institute Fellows Cynthia V. Duarte and Peter Velazquez and Associate Director Allert Brown-Gort gave students a tour of Notre Dame and the Indiana University School of Medicine—South Bend. They were given an orientation on Latinos in the United States, Latino health, the Mexican American experience, and a research demonstration in the Velazquez lab.

Julian Samora Library Receives Richard Montoya Papers
The Julian Samora Library recently received a donation of papers documenting the career and work of Richard Montoya. An American playwright, actor, and activist, Montoya is also co-founder of the performance group Culture Clash. The papers include flyers, theater programs and playbills, manuscripts, published play scripts, as well as selected recorded performances, including rare footage of a 1979 poetry reading, “One More Canto,” featuring Montoya’s father, José Montoya, Ricardo Sanchez, Lucia Corpi, and others.

Interview Captures Intimate Details of Montoya Family Activism
The Julian Samora Library recently conducted an oral history interview with brothers Richard and Carlos Montoya. In the interview conducted by Notre Dame Moreau Fellow and playwright Anne Garcia-Romero, the Montoyas candidly recount their childhood experiences in a household at the center of the civil rights and farm labor movement. Having grown up surrounded by the work of their father, José Montoya and in a household frequently visited by other members of the artistic collective the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF), other artists, poets, writers and activists such as Luis Valdez, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, the brothers recount key experiences that formed them as the two successful professionals they are today. Richard Montoya is a playwright and actor and founder of the performance group Culture Clash. Carlos Montoya is president and chief executive officer of AztecAmerica Bank. In discussions of their careers each consistently returns to deep social justice convictions inherited from their parents as the root of their endeavors. The Montoyas’ oral history can be accessed at http://latinostudies.nd.edu/history/.

Institute Co-Sponsors Exhibition at Woodrow Wilson Center
The exhibition “Mexican-American Crossroads: Immigrant and Border Realities” opened at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, on May 2 and will run through July 1. The exhibition is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center Mexico Institute, the Smithsonian Latino Center, and the Institute for Latino Studies.

Student Art Exhibition Featured
The ILS Student Art Exhibition opened in Galería América on May 21. Guest-curated by José Velasco, studio coordinator of the Digital Printing Lab at Riley Hall, the exhibition features the work of six students from the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The artwork will be on display through the summer.

Crossroads Gallery Hosts Congressional District Art Competition
For the third year in a row, the Institute for Latino Studies sponsored the Second Congressional District Art Competition for Congressman Joe Donnelly. Works from students throughout the district were displayed at the Crossroads Gallery during the month of May. The winner of the competition will have their winning artwork displayed in the Congressional tunnel of the US Capitol for a period of one year.

Institute Staff Earn TAP Certificates
Idalia Maldonado, Nolvia Ramos, and Teresa Santos recently completed a Notre Dame–sponsored administrative professional training certification program. Today’s Administrative Professional Certificate Program (TAP) is a competency-based development program aimed at administrative staff who want to update current skills and learn new technical, interpersonal, and management competencies to ensure future career success. Nolvia Ramos also received a technical certificate in business administration from IvyTech. Congratulations to all!

20 Years of Service Celebrated
Two Institute staff members, Katie Schlotfeldt and Douglas Franson, were recently recognized for their twenty years of service to the University of Notre Dame. We congratulate them on this achievement!

Brown-Gort Promoted
The promotion of Institute Associate Director Allert Brown-Gort to the rank of professional specialist was announced at the President’s Dinner on May 24. Congratulations, Allert!

On-Campus Events

Alumni Reunion Open House and Lecture
On Friday, June 3, the Institute will host an open house for ND Alumni from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in the McKenna Hall mezzanine. The open house will showcase the research, library special collections, and artwork of the Institute. A special lecture will take place from 3:00 to 4:00 pm in McKenna Hall room 210-214. The lecture, entitled “The Growing Latino Population: Effects on American Society,” will be presented by Institute Associate Director Allert Brown-Gort, Institute Fellow Cynthia V. Duarte, and Ricardo Ramírez, associate professor of political science. Latinos are both the oldest and the newest population group in our country and are poised to become over 25 percent of the population by 2050. What is the significance of the growth of this population, and what does the future hold for the nation as a whole? Come join us for an exploration of demographics, education, and politics.

Galería América Reception with Artist Juan Fuentes
A reception featuring the artwork of Juan Fuentes will be held Monday, June 20, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Galería América, 230 McKenna Hall. Fuentes is founder of Pájaro Editions, a printmaking studio in San Francisco. He is also former director of Missión Gráfica at San Francisco’s Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, a founding member of Art 94124 Gallery, and currently teaches printmaking as a visiting faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Off-Campus Events

Consejo Gráfico Exhibition Reception
A reception for the exhibition “Consejo Gráfico: Borrando la Raya/Erasing the Line” will be held at the Crossroads Gallery on Wednesday, June 22, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. The Crossroads Gallery is located at 217 South Michigan Street, South Bend. Drawing on various printmaking media, the prints in this exhibition seek to give voice to the voiceless and raise awareness about the plight of immigrants today. This exhibition graphically raises questions about the contradictions at play in the current discourse about political boundaries, human rights, and illegality.

Manifestaciones Exhibition in Washington, DC
The ILS/IUPLR Washington DC Office partnered with the University of California Washington Center and the Embassy of the Dominican Republic to present the exhibition “Manifestaciones: Expressions of Dominicanidad in Nueva York.” On view through July 29 at the University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, the exhibition explores “the individual artist’s perspective on the theme of Dominicanidad [Dominican identity].” Striking images reveal the continuing influence of the culture of their country of ancestry, expressing itself in their art through iconic Dominican symbols. A panel discussion moderated by Ranald Woodaman of the Smithsonian Institution was held on May 19.