By: Stephen Margelony-Lajoie
To admit that racism still exists in a country toting its equality badge regardless of any standing proof that we even deserved this trophy in the first place is a touchy subject. Racism…it can’t be a problem after the Civil War, right? Or surely not after the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s? For some, the answer to these questions is a bold “YES!” but according to Valerie Jiggetts, the host of one of the many sessions that were a part of Stand Against Racism, 70% of white Americans believe that discussing racism is irrelevant to modern American culture because it hasn’t been a problem since the Civil Rights Movement.
Stand Against Racism was a collaborative project between the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success and student as well as professional organizations on campus in conjunction with the YWCA Stand Against Racism National Movement.
read more ...Stand Against Racism
By: Angela Veloza Hernandez
I attended the last Phallaciesperformance of the semester and inside the program it states that
research indicates that the more overtly a man accepts this traditional masculinity, the more likely he is
to be sexually and relationally violent, drive unsafely, refuse to use condoms, use dietary supplements,
carry weapons, engage in high-risk drinking and drug use and many other unhealthy behaviors.
By: Angela Veloza Hernandez
It has been a rough time for the people of Massachusetts. Due to the bombings and the shooting that happened in Boston, UMass Amherst students organized a vigil on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:00pm at the plaza in front of Haigis Mall.
The students who organized this event, created a Facebook page which had the following statement:
Join us on the lawn for a candlelight vigil: to mourn, to spread awareness, to talk about the laws - about access to mental health care, gun control, cultural norms surrounding masculinity, and to communally assert our determination to address an obvious epidemic.
Our intention is to demonstrate to our community our commitment to PEACE, and to whatever crafting a peaceful society entails.
We hope to provide students a forum in which to organize further around specific issues.
Bring your phone, get peoples numbers, start planning your own events, come with your own organization or social movement or on your own platform, advertise your own events, and bring flyers, light candles. Take an hour to think about the next step, about the possibility of there even being a next step and about the possibility that we each have a role to play in toppling the numerous and interconnected systems of injustice that continue to find their expression in acts of domestic terrorism.”
By: Angela Veloza Hernandez
On Saturday April 6th, the unbelievable “Asian Night” took place at the Fine Arts Center of UMass Amherst. This is an annual event that has been historically organized and hosted by the Asian American Students Association (AASA).
About a thousand students showed up for the long awaited night. This event combines all the Registered Student Organizations which promote Asian Culture, such as the Taiwanese Students Association, Vietnamese Student Association, South Asian Students Association– just to name a few. Many organizations from the five-colleges performed at this festive event including some headliners and local talents.
By: Angela Veloza Hernandez
On Saturday, March 30th the Vietnamese Students Association held their 28th Annual Spring Show at the Student Union Ballroom. The hosts were Victoria Nguyen and Linda Le. The event started with the singing of the national anthems of both the United States and Vietnam. It was followed by a traditional Lion Dance performed by a group from Springfield led by Hieu Nguyen. The lion ‘danced’ to the beat of the drums and the gong. They pranced around the ballroom area and in between the audience. The dragons’ eyes also lit up and its ears and mouth moved. They were also “fed” food while dancing around in circles. It was very humorous and a truly amazing performance!
read more ... VSA 28th Annual Spring Show
KOHLS Info Session @ CMASS
By: Angela Hernandez Veloza
On Wednesday, February 13th, representatives of Kohl’s retail stores came to CMASS in Wilder Hall for the ALANA Professional Development Workshop “From College to Career.”
The three Kohl’s representatives talked about looking for a job after college. You want to make sure to do your research and see which companies match your interests and your values. They talked about the four Ps, Perception, Preparation, Practice and Performance.
Perception means that you must be aware of the impression that one forms just by looking at you. The second P is Preparation. You must be prepared by researching the company’s history, its visions and the tasks and challenges that it demands from its employees. Make flashcards with common interview questions and practice answering them. The third P is Practice where you practice answering interview answers so that your answers will sound more fluid and the task that you have to do at your job will become easier to do. The last P is performance. Companies want to see results, and how you handle your job as in body language and attitude. Even if you are not a senior looking for a job, you can show the company your interest by asking what you can do for them, such as campus recruiting. You can state that you know the area and the school’s environment and will be able to serve as a campus representative for the company. Even if the deadline has passed, chase the opportunity. The worst thing they could say is no.
Remember the Pareto’s Principle which is the 80:20 rule. It states that twenty percent of the things you do account for eighty percent of your results. Minor little things add up and nothing is too small to make an impression or to change and own your mistakes. The little things you do, such as raising your hand during a 400 people class, improving your work ethic and having good manners counts. Research the company by researching press releases, philanthropic work, and green initiatives that the company is striving to improve on. See if the company has any partnerships with community organizations that are important for you.
Remember to be flexible with your career. Sometimes you have to take lateral opportunities to reach your desired job, do not be afraid of this. As long as you know what you want, you will not stray away.
Remember you do not just want a job, but a career through this job.
For the interview, you should arrive ten minutes early and wear business clothes. During your interview, ask innovative questions that show that you have done your research on the company. Do not ask general questions such as “What is a normal day like?” and do not gossip. If you socialize with the best people then you will be influenced to aim for the best. This does not necessarily mean what is considered best by society, but what you know will be best for you.
Remember the work place is not a play space. During the interview, if the person asks you “Is there anything else you would like to add?” do not say no. Reiterate your passion; show them why you want this job.
The current workforce trends are the decline in the country’s economy, people are not retiring anymore so that means that there is more competition for you and women no longer stays in the house, but are working as professionals, the expectations for women is the same as men. The increase in computer technology will put you at an advantage over older workers. You need to show your ability to be tech savvy and show off your social media skills.
Unfortunately, this generation of students are seen as not interested and people who want to live and then work. As a result, you have to show that you are not part of the status quo, but instead that you are a mature and resilient individual. Remember, you never stop representing yourself after you land the job.
The three Kohl’s representatives presented their internship program and their Executive Management in Training program. The internships are an 8-week paid experience at the nearest store close to the student’s home. The Kohl’s team flies the students out to Chicago for a four day training session where the students are introduced to the different aspects that make the Kohl’s brand.
The students also have the opportunity to meet with the executive staff of the Kohl’s team. At the end of the internship, the students have the opportunity to pitch an idea to the president of Kohl’s that will help improve the company. This internship serves as an open opportunity for future employment with Kohl’s.
The Executive Management in Training program is catered to students who just graduated from college and have a desire to learn about the retail business. This program consists of a 12-week training program that is conditional. Upon the completion of the program, you will be named Assistant Store Manager.
This program will bring the individual experiences in several areas such as scheduling, payroll, and human resources and store operations. If you are interested in any of these two programs, come by CMASS and talk to Willie Pope!
Noche Latina @ UMass
By: Angela Hernandez Veloza
On Saturday, March 9th the Noche Latina went underway at the Student Union Ballroom. This event was launched by two organizations: S.A.M.B.A. (Student Association for the Multicultural Brazilian Alliance) and Latinos Unidos (The student organization which focuses on Latino/Hispanic culture.)
The event started with food from Latin America: Pan de queso (bread made from cheese,) arroz (rice,) carne molida (ground beef,) and platanos. There was pink lemonade to drink and the desserts were flan and brigadeiros (little round Brazilian truffles.)
After the meal, the event was opened by the host, Abel Ortiz who talked about the importance of being united as Latinos. He mentioned that the incoming freshman class had 200 students and as a result of this, these groups and events are necessary to support these students and foster relations with non-Latinos who are interested in the culture.
Rappers Melodi and Clave performed. There were two student groups who performed at the event, Forro which is the dance group for S.A.M.B.A and Cayena which is the group for Latinos Unidos.
Forro performed two songs, a slow song and a fast song. Forro is a Northeastern Brazilian dance that has gained popularity throughout the country. There are three rhythms of Forro: Xote, which is a slower-paced rhythm, Bailao, which is the original forro rhythm, and arrasta-pe, which is the fastest of the three dances. Forro is danced in pairs and its influences come from Salsa and other Caribbean dances. Some of the instruments included in the Forro music are the Accordion, the fiddle, and the Zabumba, which is a drum. The ladies had on pink shirts and baby blue skirts, and the boys wore white buttoned-down shirts and black pants.
Cayena’s first performance was a Colombian salsa. Salsa is a fusion of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances. There are a variety of Salsa dancing styles such as the Cuban Style, the New York style, and the Colombian Style. Colombian style footwork is precise and elaborate; due to this several Colombian dancers have won major Salsa world championships. Salsa’s most prevalent instrument is the trumpet and conga drums. The girls wore black shirts and black skirts and the boys wore black shirts and black pants.
The next performance was a Bachata song. The genre is originally from the Dominican Republic and has three basic steps. The dances usually have romantic or heartbreak themes. The main instruments are the drums, the guitar, and the guira. The girls wore white shirts and black shorts and the boys wore white shirts and black pants.
The last dance was Palos, a traditional music usually played at religious ceremonies. The principal instruments are the drum and the human voice. It is not danced in pairs and this particular performance was all girls. The girls wore white shirts and skirts of different colors, collectively making up the colors of the Dominican flag.
After these performances, singer Domenic Marte was introduced. He is half Dominican and half Puerto Rican. He sang several songs including his most known song “ven tu.” After this performance, DJ Sisko came in. He played a variety of music such as Hip-Hop, Bachata, Salsa, and Merengue.
This night was dedicated to celebrate the history of all the Latino organizations that exist in the 5-college area. The Alumni who created these two organizations were present. This was an event that exposed Latino culture to others and united the Latino community in the 5-college area by keeping alive its music and dance.
Diversity Training with Lee Mun Wah: A Personal Experience
By: Angela Hernandez Veloza
On Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 diversity speaker and filmmaker Lee Mun Wah came to The University of Massachusetts-Amherst to conduct “An Unfinished Conversation” training which consisted of two separate sessions.
Lee Mun Wah begun by pausing for a few minutes before speaking. He then asked the audience what they were thinking that very moment. A few people stated that they felt awkward and uncomfortable because trainings normally start with a greeting and immediate discussion. “So why does it make you feel uncomfortable?” Lee asks. “We could have just accepted it as something different, and moved on, but the minute we consider something different we feel awkward.” Lee Mun Wah stated that it is still considered taboo in the 21st century to talk about diversity issues. We are taught to not ask or to be afraid of asking when we are curious about a person or a circumstance because it is not “right” to ask.
To demonstrate this, Lee Mun Wah brought to the front a lady in a wheelchair and asked her if people ever inquire how she got into her situation. She said “No.” So he asked the participants if anyone knew her. Several people raised their hands. Then, he asked those people if they know the reason why the lady is in a wheelchair and only three people raised their hand. He concluded that we can be “close friends” with a person, and not really know an important experience in their lives, which is a part of who they are. The lady in the wheelchair stated that she actually loves it when people ask her, because she has a chance to tell her story and most of us like talking about ourselves.
Lee had the audience do an exercise where each person had to randomly pick a person from across the room that one would not normally approach. We were assigned to look at our partners, form assumptions from what we saw. We then processed the exercise by checking if the assumptions were true or not. In these conversations many people were wrong and many were also right. However, these were difficult issues to talk about since most of the stereotypes that we associate people with are dictated by media which, most of the time, portrays something or someone in a negative light.
During the second portion of the workshop, Lee put up a list of questions that we had to ask our partners. The other person had to look the speaker in the eye and listen to them. These series of questions opened up a flood of answers that normally we do not talk about because we consider them to be uncomfortable or taboo. Many people started crying and a new sense of understanding about each other started to settle.
What Lee Mun Wah’s workshop made many people realize is that we are thrown into life’s circumstances and we just proceed to do our business without learning how to deal with people who look different than us or who have a disability. As a result, misunderstandings become an everyday occurrence when interacting with each other. By being indifferent, and letting our fears become the reason for our silence, we are not only missing out on forming a meaningful bond with someone, but also denying a knowledge to help us figure out who we are and who we want to be.
My take away from this training is that we are human beings who are so consumed with work and our own businesses that we lose the pleasure of an honest conversation. We forget to stop and listen to the stories of people who we interact with everyday. Chances are, most people are willing to share their stories. We can miss the opportunity of an irreplaceable friendship by not accepting another person’s uniqueness. We need to talk about exclusion besides inclusion because it happens every day. We need to be more conscious of what we do and don’t talk about. We need to be more curious in a good way. We need to talk less and listen more.
It is important to lift the veil and honor what people have gone through. Lee Mun Wah said, “It does us no good to have a black president if we not learn something from it”. I further realized that if you want others to value your culture, you should show them that you are proud of it first.
Thanks to this diversity training, I learned that it is not awful if you are not knowledgeable about certain issues; it is horrible if you do not want to find out.
South Africa's Magnet Theatre at UMASS!!!
Written by Angela Hernandez Veloza
On Saturday, February 2nd of 2013 South Africa’s Magnet Theatre came to the Fine Arts Center to perform the production of “Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking.” The play is one of many events and performances to highlight and celebrate Black History Month 2013 at UMass. The Magnet Theatre started in 1987 with performances such as “Cheap Flights” and “The Show’s Not Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings.”
The producer of this play states that the country of South Africa was founded in the mid 16th century. The Cape of Good Hope was colonized by Dutch settlers, where many indigenous and imported slaves resided. The country was fought over by both the Dutch and the British in what came to be known as the Anglo-Boer Wars. After this, South Africans lived for 45 years with Apartheid laws in place that stated where people were allowed to live, move and work depending on their racial class.
In the 1950s the apartheid struggle began with passive resistance inspired by Malcolm X and Gandhi. Police gunned down 69 demonstrators in an event known as the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960. Eventually, Nelson Mandela and 13 other people formed the Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress. Mandela ended up incarcerated for 27 years and was released in 1990. He became the first president of South Africa in 1994, when their first democratic free elections were held.
South Africa has grown to become a county with a strong economic structure and rich sense of culture.
However, one of the many problems that this country faces is the influx of immigrants from the Zimbabwe. People tortured them, for example by pouring gasoline into a car tire and setting a person alight in it.
A professor in the department of Theatre, Megan Lewis, welcomed the audience. The production “Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking,” is a story about a mother and a daughter who become one of the 150,000 refugees in South Africa.
The production is mostly in French, but includes some English, and requires a lot of attention and being able to use your imagination to understand what the actors are doing. The story starts with a happy and healthy mother-daughter relationship full of laughs and good times. The young girl had a sense of home; she felt safe with her mother and they enjoyed doing the chores together. However; after their house was burned down, they are forced to leave their town.
When they ended up moving to the city, things were not so good anymore. The daughter and mother try to start over. The mother sends the young girl to school where she needs to learn to speak English in order to communicate. She desperately and continuously writes to her older sister Ernestine; however, when she gives the letters to her mother, she puts them away and does not send them.
The young girl becomes a woman and finds the letters to Ernestine that she thought were sent months and years ago. She becomes desperately confused, upset and resentful of her mother. Eventually, her mother buys her a new pair of shoes and they become the friends they once were.
“Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking,” was created for the African Festival of Youth and Children’s Theatre in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 2006. It has also been performed in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Aardklop, London, Argentina, India and Brazil. There are two actresses in the production, Jennie Reznek and Faniswa Yisa, who both won the award for Best Actress at the 2009 Aardklop Festival for their performance in this production. The production was also nominated for Best Foreign Production of 2009 in the Argentinean Theatre Awards.
After the production, there was a question and answer session facilitated by English professor Stephen Clingman with both of the actresses, Jennie Reznek and Faniswa Yisa, the director Mark Fleishman and the music composer and performer Neo Muyanga. Through this Q & A session the audience found out that the production developed over three weeks. The reason why French is the main language for the production is to make the audience feel the sense of not understanding the language that refugees around the world often face, and also because refugees in the continent of Africa often come from French speaking countries. South Africa has 11 official languages.
The props, body language, tone of voice, and the pieces in the English language still made the audience able to feel engaged despite the language barrier. Both actresses state that they have done this performance in various countries where the language was neither English nor French, and that body language is the major thing.
Professor Stephen Clingman also talks about how if there was to be a study of the audience and its perception, everybody is not at the same stage and some people may not know what is going on at a particular time in the play. “What is the understanding of the concept?” professor Clingman asks. “You teach a basic concept to a student for four years, and it is still misunderstood.”
The background music throughout the production was composed for the play. The significance of the elephants throughout the play is that as a result of colonialism, the lives of animals were disrupted, and when the fences eventually came down elephants were still able to find routes from before. The main reason for the creation of the play is to tell the stories from the inside, of refugees living in Cape Town.
The Magnet Theatre was also able to produce educational booklets for children than explain the story of refugees in a way that children can understand. “What does it mean to be part of Africa?” Jennie asks. The shoes also represent the long journey of refugees often by foot and by bus.
The props and set design for the production were small. A few small props such as a cardboard house, the sand, and the steel for the city buildings. The director mentions that the migrant moves with little, so a few props melded with this idea of constantly packing and moving. This production captures the sense of a home, of departing on a journey and the final arrival.