Day: April 4, 2016

TAMIU visits Texas A&M Law School

By Francisco Garza, Student Contributor

The drive to and from Fort Worth, Texas gave me enough time to decide where I wanted to go to for law school. Once the Pre-Law Chapter got to the hotel, settled in, unpacked, and washed up for dinner. Once we all met at the lobby, we took a unique bus downtown to Ricky’s Barbeque. It had the most delicious barbeque ribs and brisket I’ve ever tasted. This restaurant was recommended to us by the Texas A&M Law School staff. These people were tremendously smart and enthusiastic. They not only talked to about the beautiful city, but they encouraged us to attend their law school. Over dinner, one professor informed us about the majority of things that go on in his business law class and benefits of attending their Texas A&M Law School.

The next day, which was a Monday, at 8am the TAMIU pre law group met with the staff of the law school and together we walked down two blocks to get to the law school. The short distance really impressed me. The building is two stories tall and it reminds me a lot of a fancy hotel stocked with several neatly spacious classrooms. In addition, the school library made you feel automatically intelligent and like you could solve any problem because of all the books that were there to help you. The most exciting part was that the students there get along with each other just like we get along. One pretty girl came to talk to us and provided us with answers to our questions.

Finally, after visiting live class rooms and buying things at the book store, we headed back home. The TAMIU Pre-Law Chapter and Texas A&M built a strong connection. They visited the Cayman Island in the summer for conference meetings and they like cabrito. Now they are coming to our school and offering a law class about immigration. Their professors and some of their students are coming down to TAMIU to teach and attend the class. If there are any questions about law, law school, or any legal opportunities contact the TAMIU Pre-Law Advisor Dr. Palmer. Her office is located in the Western Hemispheric Trade Center room 216. I want to formally thank the Texas A&M Law School for providing us with the trip and encouraging us to give our best at standing out as leaders and attending Texas A&M Law School in Fort Worth, TX.


Home of the Mighty Fighting Buckaroos

By Adrian Campos, ECHS Student Contributor 

My hometown Freer, Texas located in Duval County at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and State highways 16, 44, and 339. It’s only 60 miles east of Laredo, Texas and is where I’ve grown up all my life. It’s a small town with a population of only 3,241 where everybody knows each other. If you’ve ever lived in a small town then you know what it’s like.

Freer is named after Daniel John Freer, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1866. Freer married Nancy Gabehart in 1890. They had six children, one son named Charley, and five daughters. In 1915 the family discovered an advertisement in a newspaper for people to come to “Rosita Valley” (later known as Freer) to buy land at $1.000 for 60 acres. Mr.Freer sent his son Charley to check out the situation. Charley liked what he saw and met and married Hinnie Riley while the rest of the family moved to Rosita Valley in 1917.

At the time there were no stores or post office in Rosita Valley. Mr.Freer purchased and developed the original townsite. He operated the Post office out of his home. He built the first utility plant for the town, he owned one of the first gas stations, he donated land for the first church, and he helped establish the first Chamber of Commerce in 1934.

In 1938 the City of Freer was the second largest producing oil field in the United States. At the time the population was estimated at 5,000 to 8,000. There was a monthly payroll of $500,000. The 3,000 oil wells produced 50,000 barrels of oil a day. D.J. Freer died on December 7, 1941 at the age of 75.

Freer, Texas is home to the “Official Rattlesnake Roundup of Texas.” The first Freer Rattlesnake Roundup was in 1965 and it was known as the Oil-O-Rama. This year will be the 51st anniversary of the Freer Rattlesnake Roundup. Many people come from all over Texas to come to this event 2 day event. It’s on Friday and Saturday, during the last weekend in April. There are many things to do. It’s a time for many nonprofit organizations to raise money by selling food or other things. There is live music, vendors, a carnival, a parade, and a live rattlesnake show. Last year there was even a monster truck show and a helicopter ride.

Each year there is Miss Freer Pageant and a new Miss Freer, Jr. Miss Freer, Little Miss Freer, and a Little Mr.Freer get chosen by judges to support the city. They dress up in rattlesnake skin and they go to many local parades year round.

Freer is home to the mighty Buckaroos. The team symbolizes family because without even one of them the team wouldn’t be the same, like a family. The team all supports other in events like football and baseball. We all work together with pride. Without the support of the citizens of Freer the High School Athletic program wouldn’t be able to accomplish what they do.

We may be a small town but many things go on year round and it’s is a pleasure to be part of it. Lots of love and affection get put into everything. Since we all know each other we treat everyone as family. I wouldn’t want my life any other way. Yes, there are benefits to living in a big city, but Freer is home and it always will be.


Comic Class Teaches History

By Edward Garza, Student Contributor

Anybody who has picked up a comic book will more than likely say that they are a source of entertainment and nothing more. The brightly toned panels leap at the reader to capture their attention. Crafty home brewed villains act to generate fear and antagonize civility. Then by the end of the comic, the titular superhero rescues the girl, stops the robbery, and captures the bad guy. Today, they have spawned a multibillion dollar industry that continues to inspire wonder among viewers of all ages. But, what if they were more than entertainment? What if they were a source of knowledge: a looking glass into the past? If readers read carefully, they can be viable sources of historical information.

This is what Dr. Richard Hall’s “Intellectual History of the U.S.”  class concerns itself with this spring semester. The creation of the modern American comic book comes in the 1930s as the Great Depression loomed. Superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman saw their debut and maintained the little hope that readers had. As war approached in the 1940s the comic book medium became an almost propagandic entity asking for readers to join the war effort any which way they could. The Red Scare of the 1950s would transform the superhero comic and even kill off other genres entirely for their “communist sympathetic” qualities. Then the 1960s seemingly broke all ties of conformity in America and thus, a rebirth of the superhero genre occurred. Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man–these and more were born in the wake of the rebellious 60s. This pattern of reactionary creationism continued throughout the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and even post-9/11 America. Every time America was suffering or rejoicing, the comic book was there to capture the thoughts of Americans and voice them out on cheap newsprint.

Dr. Hall gives his attention to each decade and traces various societal products or “isms” like racism, sexism, nationalism, communism and others. In this history class, comic books themselves become the primary sources. Students analyze speech bubbles and the bold illustrations and it is then, the entertainment value of the comic book is surpassed by the intellectual value.

I spoke with Mr. Christopher Garcia and Ms. Alejandra Guajardo, both students of Dr. Hall’s “Intellectual History” class and they offered me their thoughts and outlook on the course.

“I’ve been a big comic book fan since 2008” says Mr. Garcia, a communications major.  “I had knowledge of current events but no knowledge of the comics before 2002…I’m taking this class because a friend suggested it,”

When asked what he has learned in this class he said, “I’ve learned how the historic events and social movements at the time affected the writing of comics from day one, when Superman debuted. As history progressed so did the comics such as the X-Men, arriving during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and Superman became an embodiment of Moses and Roosevelt”

Likewise, I asked Ms. Guajardo, a history major, why she took the class: “I had to take it because it is a history class. But, I chose it because the topic looked interesting. I had no knowledge of comics at all. I only knew about superheroes because of the movies.”

She continued on what she learned, “I have learned that pop culture reflects society. As a historian it is important because the expression of cultures tie to the ideals of the time. We portray our sentiments in different ways. I have also learned many things about comics that I’ve never imagined. I feel like a better critic now. Also, I have learned to appreciate the genre more.”

Thus, to sum it up, this class is suited for armchair historians, historians-in-training and comic book lovers in general. Dr. Hall takes his passion for both comic books and history and wraps it up for students to unravel over the course of the semester. If interested, keep a lookout for any and all classes offered by Dr. Hall because he is sure to bring a welcome twist to learning.


Warp-PLS and the Gold Mine Every Company Does Not Know They Have

The rise of technological devices has forever changed the way we do things in our everyday lives. Just as it played a big impact on everything we do, technology also changed how we see many things. For instance, everything we do with our devices nowadays generates data. Even though we might not be aware of it, we all generate significant amounts of data, and in the right hands, this data can prove to be a gold mine waiting to be discovered. Much like this, businesses generate a vast amount of data that, without any interpretation, can go unnoticed. Data analysis will prove to be crucial in the foreseeable future as more companies start realizing that within them is the answer to all their problems.

Dr. Ned Kock, Chair of the Division of International Business and Technology Studies here at TAMIU, will be offering a workshop stressing the importance of understanding many types of data through his program WarpPLS.

Continue reading “Warp-PLS and the Gold Mine Every Company Does Not Know They Have”


Splash! South Padre Island

At the end of this month, right before finals week, I will be attending a festival in South Padre Island where members of the LGBTQ community will unite in celebration. This celebration will honor the progress of acceptance that the community has made these past years. There is no doubt that there is still discrimination alive against this community. It is not easy to be accepted, but it is possible.

I have always said that I became gay by accident, but it’s not true. Since I was a little boy I knew how I felt, but some believe that children don’t recognize their decisions when in fact they do. This festival makes you accept yourself more and it also enhances your confidence about your sexual preference. At least that’s how I felt when I attended last year. It was the first time I ever attended a gay event and I don’t regret going at all. I talked to a lot of people and I found out many things.

Five years ago, I wasn’t who I am now. I wasn’t confident about saying that I am gay. It takes guts to admit to your truths. There are plenty of guys out there that are living in fear because they are worried about other people’s judgement. The truth is that people can’t try to control judgement. The fact that we can’t control makes things more complicated in our minds. For example, one thing I learned I couldn’t control is acceptance.

When I mentioned that I became gay by accident, it was because I thought the end solution would be different. I fell in love with my best friend because of the gay tricks he would always play on me. It’s not right to do gay things if you are not gay. In the end, I couldn’t make him accept what he did or who he was. I was thrown away like trash on the side of the road. I was crushed and disappointed about gaining feelings for someone that never reciprocated them tp begin with. So, I see it as an accident, because I wonder who I would be if I never gained those feelings for him.

I used to date girls, but once I grew feelings for a guy, I knew it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I honestly thought that he would just accept his truth and become my first boyfriend, but we didn’t have a happy ending like in the movies. From there on, I was trying to figure more about my identity. I was trying to learn how to be gay. Now I feel like a pro because I’ve met some of the most amazing people that have told me their experiences. Some people don’t chose to be gay either. I’ve heard stories about guys getting raped by their uncles. All that does is confuse the individual and begin to make them think they are gay because they got raped by a man. This is an example of a man becoming gay by accident, and not like my situation where I knew what I was doing, and the choices that I was making to continue my relationship.

Attending the festival the first time made me feel comfortable about who I really am. It helped me be the person I had been hiding on the inside. I’m so excited that I get to go back and replace my experience with a new one. I think that no one should ever have to wait to be loved by the person they desire. I waited so long, thinking that maybe one day he would return, and we could start over.

After seven years of not speaking to each other, we finally decided to hang out again. I just couldn’t believe how he thought that I would still be in the same position. Now that I know more than I used, I know not to treat this like a game. All I ever wanted was an explanation why he stopped talking to me. Now I don’t even want to know. He still can’t accept what he did, and those are not the kind of men I want to connect with anymore. I want to communicate with the ones that know more and are comfortable about being true to themselves.

That is exactly why I made every effort to return to this festival because Laredo has a lot of guys that can’t be true to themselves. I don’t know what the problem is about being gay, and there’s no way I can try to figure it out on my own. That is why communities like LGBTQ come together to try and figure out more about this reality in our lives. Just remember there’s no rush. People take time to get comfortable and well mine came around pretty soon in my life. Consider coming to this celebration. Maybe you too can feel like a whole different person.


Laredo High School Film & Media Festival at TAMIU


TAMIU held a series of workshops for the Laredo High School Film and Media Festival on March 22, 2016. Graduate and undergraduate students from Professor Marcela Moran’s communication and media courses presented different film topics in panel style sessions for the high school students.

The first session was conducted by undergraduate students who spoke on the duties of a director behind the scenes. The group discussed pre-production and included tips to get through filming without losing friends in the process. Gerardo Lerma, a former VMT student led the session and he gave a crash course on building a narrative.

Some tips for preproduction were to always use a storyboard and shot list. The students stated that they are essential for staying on time and on track. The group also expressed the importance of feeding your staff and cast as it almost guarantees that people will show up.

Sound was also a big focus, as the group said that “you can edit bad visuals, but you can’t fix bad sound”. The group insisted that having a plan B for filming is necessary so you can keep rolling. The director’s role, though primarily behind the scenes, is responsible for so many of the moving parts of creating a film project.

To end the undergrad session, the group presented a short film which was full of pancakes, weird goo, and lots of laughs. The attendees were able to join in on the question and answer session by asking questions on time management, and why the director decided not to be in clip. Getting feedback from experienced students should provide helpful input for future productions.

The graduate students from Prof. Moran’s Ethnography and Documentary Production in the Border Region class presented a topic on documentary production. Victoria Mancha opened the panel by explaining what ethnography is and why it is important. She explained that these stories are an in-depth look into people’s lived experiences.

Mancha also spoke about her experience working on her final project which is a documentary on “pulga” culture in Laredo. She expressed the fascination with flea markets in Laredo as a child, and explained the process of interacting with vendors to the audience. She stated that reassuring the vendors and patrons that the footage would be used in a student film was needed for clarity, but that letting them know their shop would be showcased also allowed for them to feel more comfortable on camera.

Another student, Ana Ramirez, spoke on the importance of feedback sessions throughout the production process. She explained how without receiving critique from others, errors in editing or sound might be missed. Ramirez mentioned that having fresh eyes that having seen the project will be able to provide comments on what might need to be changed.

The panel also included a short teaser for the film entitled “Mier” that is being produced by another group in Prof. Moran’s graduate class. The documentary short takes place in the city of Mier in Mexico. We learned about the city and its tragedy, but the documentary focuses on why the people in that community continue to stay and live there.

The question and answer portion of this panel was very informative, as the students answered questions such as “How did you decide on your topic?”, “How do you get interviewees to feel comfortable?”, and “When and where can we watch the films when they are finished?”.

The panelists were very open about the process and described many experiences and emotions that they encountered while filming. Mancha told the audience that in order to get more participants she joined the “baile” at one of the flea markets and purchased items at all the shops where she was filming.

Angie Bravo, a 15 year old student from VMT stated that she had thought the idea of TAMIU students producing documentaries was “phenomenal” and that she had never heard of the city of Mier and its history, and was very eager to learn more.

The day of workshops at TAMIU concluded with sessions on production logistics and character development. The following day on March 23rd, some additional workshops and the awards ceremony for the film festival were to be held at the VMT campus.

The students of TAMIU provided some valuable information for possible future Dustdevils interested in the media field, and gave feedback about their experiences working on a major project. These workshops were an excellent way to encourage the sharing of knowledge with prospective students.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot| Part II: Iraq

For those who didn’t get the title’s pun, it is the use of the phonetic alphabet for WTF. That is the current situation in Middle East and throughout the entire Global War on Terror. The GWOT is its actual name since 2001. Sometimes I have to remind myself. Remembering so is the first step to understanding why so many countries are involved. Right now, the key states of main conflict is Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Within the fifteen years, there’s been a lot, and eventually future TAMIU student will likely be spending a semester studying the topic, but I’ll be here to explain it the best I can for you understand.

Last month we left off in Afghanistan. We explored the events of 9/11 and the beginning of the Global War on Terror. What began in Afghanistan swiftly spilled to another country in the heart of the Middle East. This country is Iraq, and we have been losing Iraq for a very long time.

This is where things get weird. Just to go ahead and start, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 neither were they affiliated with Al-Qaeda. However, their government was really, really bad!

The US used to support Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein during the 1980s. This time it wasn’t to fight communism, but to fight Iran. Iran had the Islamic Revolution which the current government in Iran, and America did not like that, but Iran is a different story for a different time.

Anyways, the funding that went to Iraq military eventually backfired when they invaded Kuwait. In response, an allied coalition liberated Kuwait and invade part of Iraq in what was called Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. We did it all in a few weeks. Then President George H.W. Bush called for an Iraqi revolt against Saddam Hussein, but that never happened.

After 9/11, there was A LOT of funding for the military and a surplus of funds from the Clinton Administration of the 90s. Saddam Hussein and his government were accused of producing weapons of mass destruction or WMDs. WMDs can range from nuclear or plutonium weapons to mass dispersive chemical and biological weapons. America feared that since Hussein was not playing ball with us, he might leak these weapons to terrorists or terrorists could somehow procure them and use them for all sorts of wrong reasons. It sounds reasonable on paper. The US Government was convinced that this was case.

The American government sought a need to invade and enforce a regime change. The United Kingdom felt the same way. During this time the UK was under the majority of the Labour Party with Prime Minister Tony Blair. However, unlike Afghanistan, many of the other nations did not think so. France, a very key ally, believed that a diplomatic route was more reasonable as did Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation (who was still president back then) thought the same. Either way, the US congress voted in favor, and in March 2003, America invaded Iraq.

America actually did an excellent job defeating Hussein and his army. It was all done in three weeks. Just about everyone was ready to go home by the end of the year, but then it got worse. First and foremost, there were no WMDs. The terrible calamites that everyone feared did not even exist, but then it got even worse. The US had no real strategy to rebuild Iraq as it did for Afghanistan. As US troops waited to withdraw, the situation became worse as the insurgency began. Several armed groups began attacking civilians and US troops making the decision to leave Iraq less and less of a possibilty. Simply put, Iraq was way worse after the fall of Hussein’s government. Saddam Hussein was later captured by US forces. He was tried in court and found guilty for heinous crimes. He was then executed by hanging.

Now with all respects to our efforts, understand that the world is still a better place with Saddam Hussein dead. Hussein was a ruthless dictator who oppressed and killed a lot of innocent people. His sons were possible even worse creatures. The thing is, when you overthrow a dictator, make sure you’re doing it with those who rebel against him. America and her military might made that decision for all of Iraqi people.

The US had this not-so-brilliant strategy to expel the entire B’aith party from all Iraqi institutions. This was Hussein’s party. This was something that was not even done against the Axis of World War II. We mandated that everyone that was a somehow related to the old Iraqi government had to leave. The Sunni Muslim majority became outcast. Even the old Iraqi weapons a gear were disenfranchised. The new Shi’ite government came in, and they were not so great. Appointed by President Bush, Nouri Al-Maliki and his new Shi’ite government took revenge and punished the Sunnis similar to how the Treaty of Versailles punished the Germans. All of this happened as America occupied the country controversially. The “international security” force engaged the insurgents conventionally and a lot civilians and soldiers died in the process.

The insurgency led to more years of US occupation. Then a civil war erupted between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis. While all this chaos happened, coalition troops reacted and responded however they could, but the death toll kept rising. In his last years in office, President Bush made a last ditch effort to surge US troops in Iraq to finally end the insurgency. Truth is, it actually worked. By 2008 when President Bush was leaving office, conflict in Iraq was relatively low. However, it was at the cost of many dead troops and civilians.

President Bush made his infamous visit to Iraq that same year. During a press meeting, a man threw his both of his shoes at President Bush. In the Muslim world, throwing one’s shoes or presenting the bottom of one’s feet is as harsh of an insult as to spitting in one’s face. The image of the man throwing the shoes at the US President, at the end of his term, paints a painful picture of what that administration did to that country and its people.

Iraq and the financial crisis towards the end of the Bush Presidency paved an easy road for Senator Barack Obama to become president and the Democrats to take congress. President Obama did not like Iraq. He saw it was the Republican step-child he was not obligated to raise, and so, he didn’t. By the end of 2010, all US troops were pulled out of Iraq and the war was technically over. Shi’ite government lead by Bush’s favorite Nouri Al-Maliki continued to oppress the Sunni Muslims. The disenfranchised Sunnis began to revolt. In places where they could not be accepted in the economy, they turned to extremism and their arms. In 2011, a new civil war was beginning in Syria, and they took this to their advantage. What was orginially Al-Qeada of Iraq had slowly morphed into something very ugly. Today they are known as the Islamic State.

The Islamic State is Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been fighting and two front war in Iraq and Syria. Alongside conventional methods of warfare, ISIL has planned and perform terrorist attack in several cities around the globe. Their goal is create an Islamic caliphate based on their Satanic interpretation of Islam. To enforce this, they have caused genocide on Christian and Muslim groups around the territories they occupy.

Iraq has been a very large target for them. In the early years of the conflict around 2013-2014, ISIL performed atrocious terror attacks and easily defeated the new Iraqi military in open combat. Many Iraqi

soldiers simply deserted the posts before fighting. This was very concerning to the US and the Obama Administration. Though he didn’t like anything we did in that country, President Obama was not going to let Iraq turn into another Vietnam. Using his executive authority to bypass the gridlock in congress, President Obama began an air campaign in Iraq and Syria. US Special Forces have returned Iraq to train and advise the Iraqi military. The president wants to defeat ISIL without having to re-invade Iraq, and so far, there’s been progress.

What some people do not understand about the situation is the fact that much of the United States’ credibility is on the line with Iraq right now. If Iraq were to lose to ISIL and Baghdad were to fall, it would be just like South Vietnam, and the international community and the American people will come to the cynical conclusion that we cannot spread freedom and democracy around the world, and 4,400 US soldier, like the 60,000 soldiers in Vietnam, would have died for nothing. If we were to re-invade Iraq to defeat ISIL, we’ll have it done in less than a month. It would be great, but the international community, would take it for what it really was. Big Daddy America had to step in a rescue their spoiled child, Iraq. Though defeated, remnants of ISIL and terrorists group around the world will interpret this to heart, and know that the only reason why they lost is because they fought the superpower. This will only support they their claim that Iraq was truly an empty government which would further their cause for future conflict. The rest of the world would acknowledge this to, and leave the final interpretation that America did not and likely will not ever establish a solid government in the Middle East.

However, like stated early, there has been progress. 40% of territory that ISIL has occupied in Iraq has been reclaimed by the Iraqi government. Airstrikes have killed some of the major ISIL leadership. The embarrassing defeat in Ramadi has been redeemed by the Iraqi government in its recapture. Currently, the Iraqi military is making an offense towards ISIL’s Iraqi stronghold in Mosul. But during all of this, the US troop presence is still gradually growing. Though minimal, US soldiers are still dying more than a decade after the invasion.

To end this segment, I would like state that some painful numbers. Since 2003, there have been somewhere to 174,000 death related to the Iraq War, and that is a modest number. Of that figure, 26,000 have been enemy combatants, 4,400 have been US troops, and 123,000 have been civilians. These figures are still counting.


Global Medical Brigades Serve in Nicaragua

This past Spring Break, most college students could be found on the beaches of South Padre Island or the streets of downtown Austin. Throughout the week, social media sites filled up with photos and videos of their escapades as they embraced their week free from responsibilities.

However, one group of students made quite the exception. From March 4th to March 12th, nineteen TAMIU students dedicated their break to providing simple yet potentially life-saving healthcare and sanitation services to families in Nicaragua.

These students are members of Global Medical Brigades, an international student organization whose vision is “to improve quality of life, by igniting the largest student-led social responsibility movement on the planet.”

Global Medical Brigades allows students from all areas of study to volunteer alongside licensed medical professionals in underserved communities across the world. Some services provided include physicals, immunizations, and dental check-ups. Children served in these communities are also taught proper hygiene skills through interactive workshops, known as “charlas”.

Various members of Global Medical Brigades at TAMIU shared their reasons for choosing to participate in this mission.

“I decided to participate because I thought that it would open my eyes to a world outside of the United States, [and] to witness the daily struggles that people go through on a daily basis,” said Caroline Pagette, a junior majoring in communication.

Another student, Ana Martinez, echoed Pagette’s statements.

“I wanted to be part of of a great life changing experience. I have always been one to enjoy giving back to the community but this time I wanted to share my service with another country that is in need.”

Vanessa Nuñez, a senior biology major, said she had been interested in community service for a long time, but struggled with finding an organization in which she felt comfortable.

Upon hearing about GMB’s previous trip to Panama in 2015 from a friend, she decided to look into participating.

“I got well informed and fell in love with the idea of being able to be a part of something big that helps not only our local community but extends itself to communities in Central America,” said Nuñez, who added, “I pushed myself to do everything I could to go to Nicaragua this year in order to be a more global citizen while representing my university.”

Rebekah Kawas, president of the TAMIU chapter, further explained the combined efforts of the team.

“Our brigade was split into three different ones: a medical brigade, a public health brigade, and a water brigade…Along with shadowing the doctors, our members were responsible for communicating with the patient, taking blood pressure, height, and weight of each patient, and transforming one room into the pharmacy in order to set up medications and divide them as needed per patient prescription,” said Kawas.

According to Kawas, the team was eventually able to serve approximately 1,200 families over a three-day period.

Those involved with the public health and water brigades were responsible for constructing sanitary facilities for families, and a trench that would provide clean water for area residents. Kawas described the conditions many local residents lived in.

“Previously these families would ‘shower’ using dirty water in painter buckets and defecate out in the open,” she revealed.

Volunteers then assisted in building two showers, two bathrooms, and two septic tanks for two families. Despite the grueling work involved, there was more than met the eye when it came to their tasks.

“Every day was fun, interactive, and never once felt like ‘work.’ We were blessed to have a Global Brigades Staff in Nicaragua that was supportive and helped empower each of us to do a better job,” stated Kawas.

Martinez reaffirmed Kawas’ statements.

“From the moment we would wake up to the moment we went to bed, we were already dancing and singing and having such a positive attitude even if we were tired, sick, or sore,” said Martinez.

Other members shared their own previous expectations before arriving in Nicaragua, and the subsequent lessons they learned while abroad.

“I had an idea as to what we were going be exposed to, but once you’re there it’s a whole different story. You think you’re mentally prepared for it until you’re seeing it for yourself in person. It definitely gives you a new perspective on the world. I know it made me realize how good we have it here, and how we can make such an impact by choosing to do selfless acts,” said Leslie Romero, a sophomore Biology major.

Irais Neira, a senior Biology major, shared her own eye-opening experience while working on the water trench. The daily journey to the digging site consisted of a two mile walk up a mountain. During one of these hikes, the group came across an elderly woman in need of medical attention.

“On the way up, an elderly lady was walking down on a broken foot looking for help. The team and I stopped to help her, wrapping up her foot in gauze and antibacterial ointment. Our GMB truck drove up to take her back down to a clinic. Her foot had been broken for weeks and yet she was still walking on it to try and help herself,” said Neira, who continued, “But this woman had already walked past three other university groups and no one stopped to help her. She was calm but was very obviously in pain.”

Similarly, smaller moments still had a profound impact. The welcoming nature of locals and their children left lasting impressions on the volunteers.

“…These kids looked up to me like if I was some kind of superhero. I can still picture every single one of them smiling, and it makes me realize that I was born to share the talents I possess with others to better humankind,” said Martinez.


Entre Guadalupe y Malinche – Tejanas in Literature and Art Book Signing at TAMIU

As a “new” student to TAMIU, I am constantly impressed by the amount and quality of guest speakers we have access to at our university. Working with The Bridge has pushed me to attend lectures and events that I might not have considered otherwise. On Tuesday March 29, 2016, I was able to attend a reading and book signing by Chicana authors held in the Zaffirini Success Center.
Several women authors who contributed to the book “Entre Guadalupe y Malinche – Tejanas in Literature and Art” were present to read some of their selections. The writers present included Mary Sue Galindo, Raquel Senties, Rose Trevino, and of course Dr. Norma Cantu, editor of the collection.
Dr. Norma Elia Cantu should be a familiar name to Laredoans who enjoy literature, as she has published several novels including “Canicula” which is a must-read for Hispanic women. The topics and stories Cantu tells echo many of my own life experiences and I’m sure the same goes for many other young women in our community. Her writing style and her tales of everyday life is why the book won the Premio Aztlan in 1995.
Entre Guadalupe y Malinche is a collection of works that span over 25 years according to Cantu, and she added that it was a struggle to get submissions as some works got published through other sources, and some authors passed on without finalizing their approval. I could sense the compilation was a labor of love for Cantu, and she seemed satisfied with the quality of work that they were able to include in the final version.
She provided photos of the actual Laredo streets which share their name with the books title, and reminisced about how she remembers that street corner from 20 years ago. Cantu mentioned that Ines Hernandez Avila originally had the idea for the title, and it finally became reality.
The room was full, and more chairs needed to be brought in for this special event, and people from TAMIU as well as the Laredo community were in attendance. It was both surprising and exciting that so many people had gathered for the occasion, which made me smile both inside and out. Being an avid reader of Chicana and feminist literature, and seeing many men in the room applauding Cantu and the other authors, was a breath of fresh air.
The best part of the evening was the readings by the authors. Cantu jokingly remarked how the amount of “abuelita” poems needed to be trimmed down from the final draft, and Mary Sue Galindo began her reading with of course, an “abuelita” poem. I enjoyed listening to the authors recite the lines because the message comes across in a much more powerful way. Galindo finished with a poem about rape and the shame that comes with it, and she spoke with tears as she ended. The connections that we as an audience are able to feel through a live reading are something that is unique to only those present.
Having the opportunity to have witnessed these strong, powerful, women of an older generation is inspiring. My minor is English, and the event was a useful tool to enhance my love for literature. Knowing that several of the contributors to the book are also a part of our community, or are influenced by border culture, were what made the night more personal as well. If you see flyers or receive emails about events on campus that seem interesting to you, I recommend you take advantage of them as the speakers and presenters always have valuable knowledge to share with those who are willing to listen.


The “New” Bridge

TAMIU’s student newspaper is under new leadership. Dr. Daniel De la Miyar began his role as the organization’s coordinator at the beginning of this Spring 2016 school semester. Along with directing The Bridge’s participation to the university, Dr. De la Miyar hopes to build a diverse staff of creative student journalists and contributors who will provide the campus and city of Laredo with an enriched form of news content.

Continue reading “The “New” Bridge”