Author: Iris Vasquez Guerrero

President Keck Leaves TAMIU

A press conference was held Friday, May 6, 2016 regarding the announcement of President Ray M. Keck being made the new Interim President for Texas A&M Commerce. Continue reading “President Keck Leaves TAMIU”
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Centro Aztlan Provides Services For Local Immigrants

Many students on campus may not realize that their classmates are DREAMERS. No, I do not mean day dreamers, I mean DACA Dreamers. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals created in 2012, and it has become the safety net for many Dreamers that were brought to this country as children by their parents. Through DACA, these students are then able to attend college, gain employment, and are eligible for deferred action. According to the USISC website, “Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time.” DACA lasts 2-3 years, and is renewable. But how do these students get DACA? Where do they go? There are many organizations public and private which offer immigration services including DACA. These include lawyers, non-profits, and individuals that are accredited to file for others. It may be difficult for those in need to decide where to go, and how to choose, especially with such a sensitive topic, and that is why I chose Centro Aztlan. Centro Aztlan, also known as Asociación Pro Servicios Sociales Inc., is a safe haven for the marginalized population in Laredo. The undocumented, the elderly, migrant workers, all make their way to 406 Scott Street to find help. The organization provides low cost immigration services, along with many other services that we might take for granted such as filling out forms, translation. They even help with job applications. Centro Aztlan was founded in 1973, and its purpose was to “Operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, including but not limited to improvement of the condition of the poor, the underprivileged, and the victims of discrimination and alienation;” and they continue to do so today. Their clients range from young children applying for DACA, to the elderly who need help with their Social Security forms. What is unique about this organization is the welcoming atmosphere that they provide. The staff is small, with only 3 employees, consisting of Dora Negrete the administrative assistant, Rosa Morales the bookkeeper, and Angelica Lopez who works on the immigration cases. Lopez is an Accredited Representative who is certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals to work on immigration applications. I was able to use the services myself after my husband and I got married. We had known about the organization through family and friends, and decided it would be the best place to go for applying to get my husband’s resident card. We were given an appointment where we met Mrs. Lopez, and she explained all the requirements, what we needed to provide, and went over the fees versus the cost of services. The application process for us went smoothly, over the course of less than 6 months we had already gotten a positive result. Each case is different, and Lopez has had her share of difficult cases as well. She has worked with a blind couple where one partner passed away during the process, another where a client who was a resident left the U.S. to live in Mexico who had difficulty later on applying for his citizenship when he moved back. These cases and others are just a few of the success stories that the Centro has added to its long list of satisfied clients. Jose De Jesus Alvarado, a student of TAMIU, and writer for The Bridge, happens to be a Dreamer that took advantage of the immigration services provided by Centro Aztlan. Jose was brought to the U.S. when he was younger than 5 years old. His journey has been a typical one, with school always being a priority. Jose sought DACA as a means to continue his education at the university level. He is currently a senior studying Communication, which he might not have been able to do without the DACA mandate. He also took advantage of the services offered by the Centro, and was able to register for TAMIU right after graduating high school. The Centro Aztlan and Mrs. Lopez submitted the application on his behalf, and he is now not only attending TAMIU, but working two jobs as well. He is currently working for Aramark on campus, at the student favorite, Chick-Fil-A, as well as working part time at Pizza Hut. Unfortunately, the organization has recently been limited due to low funding. The primary source of income for the Centro comes from Gambit Bingo. The Bingo sponsors different non-profit organizations, and the Centro receives a share of the proceeds on certain days of the week. Additionally, the fees for client services also contribute to the funding. Another portion of funds comes from the PALE program, which is a program developed by the Mexican Consulate, which offers $10,000 annually specifically for DACA and VAWA cases. The staff has limited its hours of operation, from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M., to now 8 A.M. to 2pm. The ladies that are dedicated to their work stated “Even if we are only able to open for one hour, we will be here, helping people.” It is the organizations purpose and mission that seem to keep the doors from closing, as both the clients and employees feel committed to their efforts. The Centro Aztlan is currently accepting donations, and is seeking support from the community to spread the word about what they do. Donations over $100 will receive an autographed poster print of Laredo born artist, Amado Peña’s work. Centro Aztlan gains its clients mostly by word of mouth, but they hope to change that in order to increase their client base and help even more people that may be disadvantaged in our community. It is important to be aware that not all students enter into TAMIU with ease, and that there are still many families in our city that are living in the shadows. Centro Aztlan is one of the organizations that is giving them a voice. For more information on donating or volunteering, please contact the office at (956) 724-6244.
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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.
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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.
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Lanterns of Love Festival 5K Run/Walk

By Iris Vasquez Guerrero Tickets are on sale now for individuals and groups, for the Lanterns of Love Festival 5K Run/Walk. The event will be held in the TAMIU Student Center on April 9, 2016 from 7am to 2pm. Tickets are being sold for $10 pre-registration, and $15 onsite. Continue reading “Lanterns of Love Festival 5K Run/Walk”
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To Vote Or Not To Vote?

This is the final installment of a three-part series covering Bill Clinton’s visit to TAMIU and related topics. By Iris Vasquez Guerrero Students seem to feel like they make up a large part of the voting population. While this may be true, they are not showing up to vote. Continue reading “To Vote Or Not To Vote?”
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STCE at TAMIU

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 print edition. Story and photos by Iris Vasquez Guerrero Imagine a ballroom filled with hundreds of boxes of comics, every kind of action figure, and even some stuffed My Little Ponys.  That is what got underway the last weekend in January here on campus.  The South Texas Collectors Expo was held Saturday January 30th, and Sunday January 31s, 2016. Continue reading “STCE at TAMIU”
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Coming Back from Two F’s

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 print edition. By Iris Vasquez Guerrero Resigning from my job of three years was not easy, but neither are most major life decisions.  I gave up my full time position in order to return to school and finally finish my bachelor’s degree.  My college career originally began when I was an eighteen-year-old know-it-all that desperately wanted to leave Laredo.  I was accepted to Texas A&M-Kingsville, and I made all the usual mistakes that a new student makes.  Long story short, I completed four years at TAMUK, but received no degree.  I was also about two years away from graduation. Continue reading “Coming Back from Two F’s”
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Keeping the Soap in Your Mouth

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 print edition. By Iris Vasquez Guerrero Since I can remember my parents have always scolded me for using foul language in their presence. I was brought up in a fairly strict household, where if I even whispered a bad word I would get more than just yelled at.  Up until very recently have I become bolder and use some questionable language in front of them, to which they still give the side eye.  The freedom that is allowed in the classroom can sometimes become a bit overwhelming and even somewhat vulgar when students take their liberty to heart. Continue reading “Keeping the Soap in Your Mouth”
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