5 Broken Cameras:
A Documentary Produced by Emad Burnat
by Paola Ozuna
On November 16th, I attended the screening of the documentary 5 Broken Cameras at Hampshire College created by Emad Burnat. He is a Palestinian farmer who lives with his family in the West Bank village of Bil’in, got his first video camera with the birth of his son in 2005. He recorded the boy’s initial steps, but also ventured out to document the building of the separation wall, which divided villagers from their farmland. He filmed for more than five years, documenting the nonviolent protest of the villagers and the escalating struggle. As he filmed, one camera after another was smashed; bullets struck two and a third was hit with a teargas canister. Each camera captured a part of Burnat’s story.
With the increasing conflicts between Israel and the inhabitants of both the West Bank and Gaza, I thought it was vital to learn from a firsthand account what the current situation is in the region.
For years, since before the creation of the State of Israel in 1967, and beyond the 1993’s Oslo Accords which created the Palestinian Authority, we have seen endless killings in the region, most of which are due to territorial disputes. It is very easy to read the news and other biased sources to attempt to understand the situation. However, what was so captivating about this film and the story behind it was the fact that it began as the story of one man with his family and friends living in the West Bank. As I have mentioned, his goal was to film his son, to see him grow up and to capture those images as a way to remember that period of his life. In the film, however, the Israeli army begins to supervise the construction of a wall which divided Bil’in’s land and protests began to arise. Emad says that while filming his son, he not only saw how his child discovered the world, but also began to see his own life through a new perspective.
Every Friday the inhabitants of Bil’in held a protest by the construction of the wall. Many of the protests, while non-violent, were received badly by the Israeli army, which would retaliate with tear gas and at times with deadly gun shots.
The film was beautifully made and it was received very warmly by the crowd at Hamphire College, who gave Emad a standing ovation at the end. It was touching, real, at times funny and very upsetting. I believe it is the “normal” aspect of Emad’s family and friends in this film which makes its audience connect so much to it. The people of Bil’in simply want peace and to live off their land, but they have been denied of this right and there is very little they can do besides protest.
Emad said that their hope is that this film will allow people to take action against the injustices happening in the area. They want their land to be returned to them, the violence from the Israeli army to stop, their children to go to school and be safe, but overall, they want peace.
Community Building Day @ CMASS
Composite Drawing & Art In Action
The Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success recently announced that it will host a monthly Community Building Day due to the popularity of the CMASS’ first Community Building Day (October 26th) among students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
This academic year’s first Community Building Day was presented by guest hosts Lauren Kohne (MFA, 2013) and Paula Hodecker, Director, Craft Center.. Students that participated in the event created a composite drawing, which involved piecing together square cut-outs that had sketches of images that students were instructed to copy. When the images were placed together, students recognized that they had recreated Frida Kahlo’s famous Self-portrait. The composite drawing was a little more than just a run-of-the-mill arts and crafts project. Students learned how just one small drawing can be a part of a much bigger and beautiful image and that every person in a community has a special role that goes hand-in-hand with the rest of his or her community to create that bigger, beautiful picture.
CMASS’ most recent Community Building Day (November 16th)invited students to come and sit down with the staff at the center and work on an array of arts and crafts projects, which ranged from making jewelry to crocheting. Students from the UMass community were able to see how easy it was to bond over doing something artistic, not to mention that everyone’s skill level improved over the course of a few hours.
Once again, the event proved how art can bring a community together, further solidifying CMass’ Community Building Days as monthly events that students look forward to.
An Evening with Junot Diaz
by Paola Ozuna
On November 1, 2012 acclaimed author Junot Diaz came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Bowker Auditorium to talk about his latest work “This Is How You Lose Her.” Junot Díaz is the Dominican-American author of the short-story collection Drown, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction. When the event began, Diaz was introduced by his colleagues from the UMass’ English Department. Diaz says he begged the English Department to allow him to speak to the audience personally through questions instead of lectures.
Diaz was very down to earth and made the audience crack up with his good sense of humor, charisma and entertaining personality.
He read a couple of chapters from his new book and answered questions from the audience. He discussed the writing process that he goes through when he’s working, what inspires him and his passion for the art of writing. Diaz came from a lower income, immigrant community in New Jersey. Many of his experiences growing up in the D.R. and the U.S. voice the same experience that many people of color today encounter. Diaz’ most impressive technique is that he is able to bring his experiences to life with his writing. Diaz mentioned how he does not see many authors of color like him in the top bestseller lists and this made me think about my own literary experience. Being an avid reader myself, I know that I don’t encounter many authors who look like me, whose stories resemble mine and whose voice remind me of the people and environment that I grew up in.
Diaz is an inspiration to people who love art, who want to listen to a different voice and who want to see someone like them tell stories from a familiar perspective. His hope is that our society will come to place where we can speak openly about our ethnic, racial and sexual identities, just like the characters in his books. He hopes that in the years to come we can evolve into people who are proud that our lives are stories made up of many different stories, which, whether good or bad, create what we call being alive. He encouraged students to tell these small stories, for they make us what we are and what we are not.
Listening to Diaz was like a having a conversation with him. His genuine openness made it hard to leave the event. You couldn’t help but want to be friends with him.
Diaz is currently a professor at MIT, teacher creative writing courses.
Van Jones: An inspiration to young people
Van Jones came to UMass on October 18th to speak about his book Rebuild the Dream. He is president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the U.S. economy. A Yale-educated attorney, Van has written two New York Times Best Sellers: The Green Collar Economy, the definitive book on green jobs, and Rebuild the Dream, a roadmap for progressives in 2012 and beyond.
In 2009, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House. He helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy recovery spending.
When he walked into the Mahar Auditorium, students cheered as he began to speak about his mission. He spoke about the country’s obsession with “stuff” and how American consumerism is affecting the environment, as he explains in his book The Green Collar Economy. He mentioned how clean energy can create jobs and improve our environment in so many ways.
He then went to on talk to us about how the young people of my generation are the most influential and technologically capable generation ever. Despite this, Jones said “Democracy is not an app we can simply download, we need to make it happen.”
Van Jones was overall inspirational, gracious and funny. He spoke to students in a way that helped us understand the urgency of creating movements for the improvement of our country and the world.
CMASS 3rd Leadership Symposium: Leading Self
by Stephen Margelony-Lajoie
CMASS hosted the third annual Leadership Symposium on Saturday Oct. 27. The event is held annually to offer leadership building workshops to University of Massachusetts students and to encourage networking opportunities. Ju Y. Hong and Amnat Chittaphong were featured as the keynote speakers of the plenary session and kicked off the event with their presentation of “Movement Building for ALANA Students: A New Multiracial United Front.”
Hong, who is currently an instructor at the Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center (as part of Holyoke Community College), and Chittaphong, who is currently the Dean of Students at Holyoke Community College, talked to students about their own journeys through college and how they grew as leaders throughout their lives.
The two speakers also talked about their changing definitions of what a leader is and does. They stressed that people of any age should never feel down about themselves just because they aren’t on the battlefront waving protest signs or are on the news stations rallying for a cause. They encouraged the students that being a leader at home, in their communities and on their campuses is still being a leader. Any impact that you can make as a leader will create a ripple effect that can be felt throughout your community and even the world.
After the keynote speakers finished their presentation, students went to their assigned workshops, where they were given opportunities to build their leadership skills. Power and Oppression was lead by Krysten E. Lobisch, Born or Made Leader was lead by Oscar C. Collins, My Impact on the World was lead by Wilma Crespo and Cultural Leadership was lead by Joyce Vincent.
These workshops challenged students to actively engage with how diversity is related to leadership and also how to be a leader on their campuses and in their communities. After the workshops, the Symposium closed off with a luncheon with guests Dr. William A. Davilla, Angela Ho, Emiliano Salazar and Gregory Thomas, who represented seasoned and emerging leaders in the UMass community.
Who Holds the Power?
by Paola Ozuna
Political Science 2013
“The young do not know enough to be prudent,
and therefore they attempt the impossible—
and achieve it, generation after generation”
-Pearl S. Buck
Who holds the power? Is it in the hands of the administration, or it is in our hands? Why are we getting into so much debt while we are in school and after graduation when UMass was supposed to be an economic option? Why aren’t we talking about the rape culture on campus? What is happening with the obvious lack of diversity? Isn’t UMass looking more and more like a corporation and less like a college to you?
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by: Stephen Margelony-Lajoie
Teatro Milagro, a theatre company hailing from Portland, OR brought one of their most recent works to the University of Massachusetts Amherst last week. “B’aktun 13” was presented in the Student Union Ballroom on Oct. 18, which was preceded by an educational workshop that was also hosted by Teatro Milagro.
The performance focused on the end of the long count Mayan calendar and the infamous superstition surrounding Dec. 21, 2012. The story revolved around three Mexicans who are forced to fend for themselves in Mexico after being deported by an ICE raid. The plot featured some interesting encounters with Mayan gods, but it was absent of any Armageddon-esque themes that have been the focus of misconceptions about the date.
Directed by Matthew B. Zrebski and written by Dañel Malán, the play was beautifully crafted and the bilingual narrative was refreshing. The play starred Daniel Moreno, Tricia Castañeda-Gonzales, Ajai Terrazas-Tripathi and Dañel Malán. The actors’ performances were practically flawless and, aside from a few awkward lines of dialogue, the experience was a very fluid, natural one.
The workshop that was hosted prior to the performance was held in the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success. The actors incorporated some theater exercises in order to discuss what everyone at the workshop thought was going to happen on Dec. 21. The group discussed how they hoped for a time of unification and the end of a divided, unjust world.
Both the workshop and “B’aktun 13” provided a very educational and entertaining experience for students. To find out more about Teatro Milagro, visit www.milagro.org.
Afro-Cuban Faith:Women in the Genesis of Santeria in Santiago de Cuba
Maria Isabel Berbes Ribeaux
by: Paola Ozuna
Political Science 2013
On October 11, 2012, I attended a talk on Santeria presented by Maria Isabel Berbes Ribeaux, and hosted by the Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies Department.
Maria Berbes Ribeaux is an ethnographer, historian, and initiated priestess of Afro-Cuban religion. She is a research associate at the Cultural Research Institution, the Casa del Caribe in Santiago de Cuba, where she is an active member of "el grupo de estudios de religiones de matrix africana em Cuba (The Study Group of Religions of African Origins in Cuba). Berbes Ribeaux' areas of research include: the diversity of religious practices in Santiago de Cuba, the arrival of Regla de Ocha in eastern Cuba, life histories and testimonials within the Regala de Ocha religion, the role of women in the development of Regla de Ocha in Santiago de Cuba and the processions of la Virgen de La Caridad del Cobre (the Virgin of Charity) in Cuba. (UMass Events Page, October 11th, 2012),
She presented very interesting pictures of the leaders of Santeria in Cuba, making a strong emphasis on the role of women in its foundation. Santeria or Regla de Ocha is a mixture of beliefs from Catholic traditions, Native American customs of the island and the traditions, with the Yoruba as its liturgical language originated from West Africa. One of the most impressive parts of the presentation was a video she showed of a nine-year old girl celebrating her one year anniversary of being initiated in Santeria.
In the video, the girl dressed in an all-white dress, presents offerings to the Orishas or gods of Santeria. Her dedication, as it was pointed out by Maria Isabel was remarkable. She was following all the instructions of her “Madrina” or godmother, the woman who mentored her in the ways of the Yoruba traditions, to thank the Orishas.
Maria Isabel explained that Santeria has been a very prominent part of the lives of many people in Caribbean countries. In Cuba, it has become very deeply rooted in the culture of the country. The interesting aspect of this tradition is that it was initiated by women, who were respected and admired by everyone who wanted to learn about the Regla de Ocha.
It began as a way for African slaves to find power in their oppressive situation. They believed the Orishas were there to protect them and no matter what the “white man” said, they were supported by a power from above which gave them strength.
The presentation was a meaningful way for me to understand how faith comes in many forms and how it impacts the lives of people. I believe that everything in life has a purpose. This talk brought another new perspective in my young life that I am still pondering on. We can pursue happiness and peace either by belief in God,nature, Orishas or ourselves.
Kimberly Hoang: Sex, Finance & Masculinities in Vietnam's New Global Economy
by: Paola Ozuna
Political Science, 2013
Kimberly Hoang spent 15 months doing ethnographic research in Ho Chi Minh City, where she worked as a bartender and hostess in four bars that catered to different groups of clients. During this time she studied the relationship between global capitalism and gender. Hoang is a sociologist and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University. She will join the Boston College Department of Sociology and the International Studies Program as an Assistant Professor in 2013.
In her lecture that I attended on October 10th, 2012, “Chasing the Dragon: Sex, Finance, and Masculinities in Vietnam's New Global Economy”, she explains how she analyzed both sides of the clients in the global sex industry. She looked at the low-end sector which catered to poor Vietnamese men, the mi-tier section, which catered to white backpackers and the high-end sector which catered to Vietnamese or Viet Kieu as well as rich white men who visited Vietnam in business trips.
Something interesting that she noted while on the last part of her trip is that she began to also see white American men coming to Vietnam for its sex industry, and not so much for business purposes. In a way, she explained, that many of these man felt that back in their homes they did not have the economic resources to express their masculinity. And this behavior, she said, may be linked to the downturn of the economy in western countries.
Hoang also explained how sex workers and clients use different economic, cultural and bodily resources to enter different aspects of the sex industry in Ho Chi Minh City. While low income men would make a direct money transaction with the sex workers, the wealthier men would pay the sex workers with surgeries or other esthetic procedures, in this way creating and sustaining ties to one another.
Latino Comedy Night
by: Stephen Margelony-Lajoie
Joe Hernandez-Kolski (Latino Comedy Night)
Joe Hernandez-Kolski brought his bombastic one-man show to UMass on October 2, 2012. Hernandez-Kolski, a graduate of Princeton University, tackled social class and racial identity with his comedic flair. Before his performance started, the comedian could be seen greeting and interacting with his audience, breaking the ice with his guests and getting to know a little bit about the students at UMass.
Hernandez-Kolski’s background as a comedian, actor, dancer and poet were apparent throughout his act. He didn’t stick to stand-up routines during his show. He used slam poetry, acting skits and his almost too-good dancing skills to get his messages across.
Hernandez-Kolski’s path towards the self-acceptance of his mixed Mexican and Polish roots was a big part of the show, something that a lot of the audience members could relate to. He also discussed life at Princeton, which was a difficult environment for him to get used to after growing up in a household where his parents had to constantly work to provide for their family—something that most students at Princeton probably didn’t have much experience with.
Hernandez-Kolski also used his routine to discuss issues that college students deal with, from dating to discrimination. “Everyone’s dealing with their own things,” he said during his performance when he was retelling the story of someone he knew in college that wrote a letter to the school paper condemning homosexuality. “I remember seeing him again a little while later in a club making out with a guy and I was like ‘that explains a lot’.”
The show was nothing less of a spectacle and Joe Hernandez-Kolski’s energetic performance even left the audience exhausted by the end of the show—there wasn’t a single moment when the comedian wasn’t pacing around or dancing. The applauses and laughter from the crowds definitely proved one thing: that Joe Hernandez-Kolski will always be welcome at UMass.
Latino Comedy Night
CMASS Open House: October 4th
by: Stephen Margelony-Lajoie
The Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) held its Fall Open House last Thursday,October 4th introducing incoming and current students to the range of opportunities that the center provides. Chona Lauyan, Assistant Director of CMASS, and her boisterous charisma jumpstarted the open house by encouraging everyone to mingle before introducing some of CMASS' key staff members from each of the center's four subsections: Oscar Collins, Michelle Youngblood, Willie Pope, Wilma Crespo and Joyce Vincent. Some UMass staff from key offices came to celebrate the start of a vibrant academic year.
CMASS offers many opportunities and services to students through its Academic Support, Cultural Enrichment, Institutional Diversity and Student Development subsections. CMASS specifically caters to ALANA students (students of African, Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American decent) by offering workshops geared towards educating all UMass students about how to be successful during and beyond their time at the university.
The students that attended the event were introduced to a little taste of what CMASS has to offer students at UMass. Other than a brief introduction to the center's four subsections, students were also given an overlay of the events held on campus throughout the year that let students of all backgrounds experience different cultures.
Students took full advantage of talking with CMASS staff and the refreshments provided by the center. For more information about CMASS, go to umass.edu/multiculturalaffairs and keep an eye on Campus Pulse, where CMASS and multicultural events are listed.