Saturday, October 28, 2006

WPL staff attend 8th Annual Latino/a Conference

The 8th annual Latino/a Conference, held at the Fort Des Moines Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa Friday and Saturday, was attended by WPL Diversity Administrator Claudia Ramirez, Circulation Assistant Carolyn Sallis, and myself, Mike Dargan.

The conference theme, Strengthening and Valuing Latino Families, was reflected in each of the three sessions I sat in on. Jorge Zaballos' presentation, "Cosmic, Race, Rainbow People, and other Myths: An Exploration of Latinos/a as Racial Identity," reminded attendees that the majority of african slaves found themselves in South, not North, America. Dr. Zaballos' thesis focused on the mythology of racial harmony south of the border. He notes that Latin American has a long history of racism that persists to this day. This guy has a lot of good things to say; too bad he had to jam two hours of content into a mere 50 minutes of session.

The keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sonia Nazario, shared the harowing story of Enrique's Journery, a central american boy's 2,000 mile search for his long-lost migrant mother. Much of it was hard to hear. I had no idea that as many as 100,000 children a year attempt reunions with the mothers.

And finally, DMACC instructors Mary West and Carrie Mulvihill presented "Why YOU should Learn Spanish," a persuasive discussion of why almost anyone would benefit from second language acquisition--especially if that language is Spanish! If only I could roll those "r's."

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