Category: Life & Arts

PHOTO GALLERY: Pandemic life

PHOTO STORY: Pandemic life

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
and
Alejandro Hernandez
Bridge Staff Writer
Published Monday, May 4, 2020

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QUARANTINE CORNER: Dealing with the pandemic – Part 2

QUARANTINE CORNER: Dealing with the pandemic – Part 2

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published Monday, April 27, 2020

[Editor’s note: The following is the second installment in a series of articles about different Texas A&M International University students, faculty and staff who are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope their stories can be as inspiring to you as we found them to be.]

Staying at home 24/7 during an almost catastrophic pandemic can be daunting. However, for Texas A&M International University art student Elkin Cortez, he sees this as an opportunity to get back to his creative ventures.

Cortez possesses multiple talents, including art, photography and even a knack for making YouTube videos in his spare time. He says that now, more than ever, he can focus on his passions.

“I am spending a lot of time on my favorite activities during this quarantine,” Cortez said. “Activities such as painting, drawing, videos and photos.”

For many students, the transition from regular college life to a secluded online routine can be challenging. Cortez came to TAMIU from Miguel Aleman Tamaulipas and returned home when the campus transitioned to online classes.

“My routine changed completely because I was living on campus and now I am at home with my family,” he said. “Therefore, the living routine is different.”

COVID-19 undoubtedly altered people’s lives but there are always ways to reshape this new way of life. Students now have time to explore new hobbies and get creative at home. Because of what is going on in the world, new leisure activities can be helpful, both physically and mentally.

He said that although many students are in different situations, he still encourages them to get as creative and productive as possible.

“Try to be as efficient as you can with the time you have,” Cortez said. “Try to strengthen your skills or develop new ones if it’s possible.”

Submitted images | courtesy Elkin Cortez
Elkin Cortez paints in his room during the stay-at-home quarantine.

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Comics take over TAMIU

Comics take over TAMIU

By Andrew Alfaro
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday April 27, 2020

The kids who came of age during the comic book movie boom are now adults and want to see how far the genre can go.

In today’s world, comics are all over pop culture and every weekend it seems as if a new comic book movie was being released before COVID-19. The popularity of these comics has even made its way into classrooms with topics based on the art form.

Assistant Professional of visual communication Thomas Brown, teaches photography and writing courses at Texas A&M International University. One of the courses he offers is Writing for Comics Books, a writing intensive course. The class will be made available again in Summer Session 1 via online due to COVID-19.

The class is meant to help students learn how to develop a comic book script and become more diverse writers. Brown also teaches a brief history of comic books in the class to help newcomers get a better understanding of the genre.

In the class, students learn terminology, such as balloons and tails, and how to build a world for comics. 

“My students don’t have to write a superhero comic book,” Brown said.

 The students are allowed to write any type of comic they’re interested in. Often, people believe comics are only superhero-based, but this is just one genre of comics. Before the influx of heroes in tights, a variety of stories focused on Westerns, war, detectives, horror and even romance.

“When the students end the class, they have the script for a 22-page comic book,” Brown said.  “They just need to find an artist if they want to get it illustrated.”

The students are in control of the comic from the characters to the plot, sometimes referred to as the hero’s journey. Some other things taught in the class are how to use screenwriting software, such as Celtx, which is free.

TAMIU spring 2019 alumnus Kenneth Jones took the course and reflected on his experience.

“The 22-page comic book was easier than it sounds with all the assignments the class did before starting the comic book,” Jones said.

Comics do not only ignite a love for fantasy, but also address social issues. 

In today’s world, there are people of different ethnicity, religion, creed, gender and sexual orientation. Some readers may feel superheroes are supposed to be a certain skin tone. However, there are a multitude of heroes which can satisfy a particular walk of life and the numbers of diverse characters continue to grow.

Major social issues and events helped create beloved characters, such as X-Men, Black Panther and Shang-Chi.

“With the events going on at that time, Marvel was making a statement that people should not segregate others because they are different, but instead of poking right at racism, they made it about humans vs. mutants,” Brown said.

When Marvel did that, not only did they introduce a new team of heroes, they also created interesting new characters to the fans—all while addressing social issues.

TAMIU could potentially see similar success in comic book-related organizations, such as Anime Club, or events like STCE’s Comic Con held annually at TAMIU.

Over the years, comics continue to grow in popularity. Manga, a Japanese art form related to anime, is one type of comic book. Anime has a large and growing fan base.

Anime Club President Liza Nguyen helps organize meetings, fundraisers and events that center around anime and manga.

“The club talks about many things concerning anime and one of the things is manga,” Nguyen said. “The club used to rent out manga, which is a genre of comics. Since the club was created, it has tripled in size.”

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QUARANTINE CORNER: Dealing with the pandemic – Part 1

TAMIU together: dealing with the pandemic

By Angela K. Carranza
Bridge Staff Writer
Published Monday, April 20, 2020

[Editor’s note: The following is the first installment in a series of articles about different Texas A&M International University students, faculty and staff who are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope their stories can be as inspiring to you as we found them to be.]

Daniel Rodriguez
TAMIU senior

During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals discover how to keep themselves busy in many different ways. For example, some take up different hobbies: cooking, reading, gaming, etc. But for Texas A&M International University senior Daniel Rodriguez, a variety of hobbies keep him occupied throughout the day.

“I have been living alone for quite some time now, which has forced me to cook and be more independent,” Rodriguez said. “I have also gained some hobbies back, such as: gardening, playing Sudoku and playing video games.”

On another note, Rodriguez said life changed when his self-quarantine began.

“In this time of quarantine, I have been thinking about how we often live life in a rush,” he reflected. “This realization made me take more time with things at a slower pace.” 

Submitted photos | courtesy Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez cooks at home during his self-quarantine.

Ruben Reyes
TAMIU sophomore

Quarantine impacts students in many different ways. Some students see it as an advantage to finally beginning the things they had no time for previously, but others find it difficult adjusting to this period of self-isolation. At home, find many distractions.

“My entire routine has completely changed,” sophomore Ruben Reyes said. “It is really hard getting adjusted to this, being at home, 24/7. I was used to going to school at a certain time, going to work at a certain time, and now that we’re stuck at home there’s really nothing I can do.”

In contrast, there are also many things Reyes has been able to dedicate his time to.

“I’ve pretty much been gaming and spending time with my friends online,” he said. “During these last few weeks, I’ve been virtually meeting online with my friends on Discord. We just hang out as if we were hanging out in person, except through Discord.”

Reyes also runs a gaming YouTube account where he uploads gaming videos.

“Lately, I have been able to do more content creation, mainly because I am sponsored by a gaming organization through YouTube, and I did not get the chance to do this as much during the semester because of classes,” he said.

Interested persons may view his YouTube channel: rubenkings.

submitted photo | courtesy Ruben Reyes

Maria Hernandez
TAMIU student

During this self-imposed quarantine, many individuals adapt quite differently.

“Quarantine has mainly impacted me with my schoolwork,” Texas A&M International University student Maria Hernandez said. “It is harder to concentrate because my family is with me all the time. And there are not many places that I could go to do my schoolwork.”

For some, the forced introverted life might seem repetitive.

“Well, basically, [I’m] just doing house chores, homework, watching TV—the minimum stuff,” Hernandez said. “I have also been getting into doing arts and crafts with polymer clay. I usually just decorate things, like I have recently been decorating plant pots.”

She said she is also quite fond of self-quarantine.

“I get to be with my family and live with them,” Hernandez said. “I don’t live with my family, but in this quarantine I have been spending my time with my family.”

submitted photos | courtesy Maria Hernandez

Alyssa Veronica
TAMIU junior

This self-quarantine life has many different impacts on Texas A&M International University students. For some it turns harsh, yet for others beneficial.

“I would actually say that quarantine has benefited me,” TAMIU junior Alyssa Veronica said. “I finally have time to do things around the house. Now I can actually cook. I have been cooking all my meals which is great because I love to cook. And before I hadn’t had the chance to do so because of school.”

“I’m very into nutrition, I like to watch what I eat and find different healthy options that are easy to make,” Veronica said.

In addition, she finds some things too restrictive.

“I think the least favorite thing about quarantine would have to be the restrictions, in terms of going out,” she said. “Like, you can’t go to a friend’s house. You can’t hang out with anybody.

“But my most favorite part about quarantine is that I don’t really have to wake up for class, get ready and find parking. So I would say my favorite part is not having to worry about parking.”

Many students posted about parking issues online in the TAMIU Student Network page on Facebook prior to the impact of COVID-19. 

Veronica turned a not-so-happy situation to her advantage as now finds time to do things she really loves. Despite these “difficult times,” as many people are calling them, some find it important to always look for the bright side in every situation. 

submitted photo | courtesy Alyssa Veronica
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DustyCup event canceled

DustyCup event canceled

By Joel Caballero
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Considered by some to be the most competitive event, both mentally and physically, between student organizations, DustyCup was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Student Government Association at Texas A&M International University, which sponsors the annual event, planned to host it this semester on April 4. The event normally brings student organizations together for the opportunity to compete for bragging rights and for the winner to take home a trophy and a grant.

DustyCup is typically hosted after the Big Event, a Universitywide community service event for the local community. The event was expected to not only have a physical portion but also one for academics with general topics and TAMIU history.

SGA Vice President Mariana Rodriguez said there is more to the event than some realize.

“It promotes student engagement,” Rodriguez said, “giving organizations the time to network between one another. To add, it is fun to see how competitive it can get.”

The Traditions Committee coordinates the event and revamps it each year.

“I would love to see as many organizations as possible [get involved],” Rodriguez said, prior to the cancellation. “The event is for them to step back from studies and group business to create bonds and partnerships. Plus, let’s keep the University traditions strong.”

This year, the committee planned to swap activities and partner with TAMIU recreational sports to see what else could be brought to the table.

“Organizations should expect to see new activities this year,” DustyCup Coordinator Lesley Escalera said, prior to the cancellation. “We are always excited to partner with Rec Sports; the combination of their ideas and the committee’s always makes a successful partnership.”

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Mariachis strive for excellence

Mariachis strive for excellence

By Jason Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

Often performing at celebrations, the Mariachi Internacional took the opportunity to perform at Discover TAMIU to represent Hispanic culture.

“We kind of want people to see that [Texas A&M International University] has mariachis and has that Mexican culture,” lead vocalist and trumpet player Danny Perez said. “The mariachis represents Mexican tradition and values.”

 Along with performing at Discover TAMIU, the mariachis expected to take part in the upcoming mariachi festival originally scheduled for Apr. 23. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that event is most likely canceled.

“Mariachi does play a big part in TAMIU because it is a part of the Mexican culture, and the Mexican culture is the biggest culture here,” violist Angela Carranza said.

Mariachi Internacional is led by Director Oswaldo Zapata and consists of music students, and those from other disciplines, wanting to learn more of the musical side of South Texas culture.

“One of the biggest events we are having is called Sonidos de Mexico and it is going to be by concert,” Perez said. “We’re going to have all these workshops where different kids from different high schools come and work with this professional mariachi, one of the best mariachis in the world, named Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan.”

The TAMIU mariachis pride themselves in their Hispanic background.

“We always try to go to events that promote Mexican culture, such as El Grito,” Perez said. “El Grito is an event the [mariachis] have been performing for the longest time and it’s always trying to spread that Mexican culture and legacy [they] want to leave. It started back in 1980 and now it’s just growing every single year.”

These mariachis also take pride in their performances, working to ensure audiences remain engaged.

“The thing that I love about performing is when I look at people and they are smiling,” Perez said, “because it reminds them of their childhood or that nostalgia of growing up with mariachi music … It brightens their day.”

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Students showcase talents during WBCA youth festival

Students showcase talents during WBCA youth festival

By Vanessa Santos
Bridge Contributing Writer
Published March 30, 2020

Some of Laredo’s most talented voices and dancers performed in the WBCA Youth Song and Dance Festival to celebrate Washington’s Birthday Celebration.

This event was sponsored by IBC Bank on Feb. 8 at the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Fine Arts Theater at Laredo College.

“I love to bring my family to these events to show them the importance of supporting our local talents,” Juan Jose Garcia said.

Garcia attended the Washington Celebration events each year since his childhood. His mother and father brought him to these events, which he said he loves and wants to pass on that tradition to his own children.

Parents provided support to their performing children by wearing their child’s school shirt and cheering them on while on stage.

“This is my second time performing and I like to see my mom so excited when I am dancing,” young DD Hachar Elementary School dancer Tessa Garza said.

In addition to Laredo talent, IBC granted two high school seniors a $1,000 academic scholarship. Esmeralda Hernandez and Juan Capetillo were selected based on their community involvement, academic merits and extracurricular activities.

One of five children in her household, Hernandez attends Hector J. Garcia Early College High School, currently ranked No. 26 in her class with an “A” GPA. She is an active member of the Newspaper Club and is a volunteer at the library. Esmeralda has been involved in the SCANN Program, Chick-fil-A Academy, National Honor Society and Border Patrol Program. She plans to attend Texas A&M International University to pursue a degree in environmental science and botany.

Capetillo is from Dr. Leonides G. Cigarroa High School, ranked No. 18 in his school with a current GPA of 4.0. He is involved in orchestra, VMT mariachi, the CHS Mariachi and all-region Mariachi members, and plans to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio to pursue a degree in music education and history.

“Having community involvement shape the minds of our young students might just make a difference in Laredo’s future,” mother of two Grecia Tello said.

Tello said she teaches her two children, ages 5 and 7, that community involvement is the essential role to success and, “It has been proven today.”

Apart from the $1,000 scholarships, there were five schools awarded $300 donations courtesy of IBC. The schools included: Prada Elementary Dance Team, F.D. Roosevelt Elementary Cheer Team, St. Augustine High School, San Isidro Elementary Raptorettes and Martin High School Cheer.

The WBCA Youth and Dance Festival brought many talent groups from dancers to cheerleaders to show their talents. The Washington Birthday Celebration was founded in 1898 and continues to grow to be a month-long celebration.

After six whole weeks of events throughout the city, the festivities came to a close with the big , bright fireworks diplay on Feb. 29, leap year day. WBCA’s way of ending the annual events with a bang.

As of now, there is no word regarding next year’s plans.

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Machu Picchu: Study abroad students learn travel photography

Machu Picchu

Study abroad students learn travel photography

By Erick Barrientos
Managing Editor
Published March 30, 2020

From Cusco to Machu Picchu, TAMIU students embarked on a journey to capture images of the vibrant country of Peru.

This previous wintermester, Jan. 3–19, the Study Abroad program hosted a trip to Peru as part of the Travel Photography class led by Assistant Professional Thomas R. Brown.

Students in the class visited and photographed many of the unique and historic places, such as the Maras Salt Mines, Sacsayhuaman Inca Fortress and the Andean Artisanal Market.

Senior Yulissa Diaz, who attended her first study abroad, said the experience wracked her nerves at first, due to the preparation involved, but getting to the country left her in awe.

“I didn’t want to put high expectations on this trip because it was my first time on a plane, my first time abroad,” Diaz said. “I literally got my passport weeks before leaving. “[Once we touched down] in Peru, it was amazing. We got treated very well, we got taken care of very well. Every place we would go to was genuinely breathtaking … I really wish we had more time to be over there.”

Senior art major Christian Terrazas appreciated this trip because it gave him the opportunity to travel and take a class that contributes toward his degree, because most times these pro-grams do not cater to art majors; this program offered communication and arts course credit.

“From the moment I got off the plane, everything was beautiful,” Terrazas said. “You really have to separate from the group, go on a walk by yourself and sit down somewhere to take it all in. Peru is such a stunning place, it’s something that none of our pictures will do justice to.”

During the two-week trip, students were tasked with creating a photo story, a way for photographers to narrate a story in a series of photographs, and Diaz said in many ways, her homestay mom influenced her topic’s decision.

“Being there with our homestay, my homestay mom, I got to eat dinner with her and watch Mexican [tele]novellas there were coming up on a Peruvian TV,” she said. “That was pretty amazing. We were bonding over little stuff like that—stuff I grew up with.

“[That inspired me] to do my photo story on the Peruvian ladies [who] weave. I really wanted to show how hardworking and talented they all are because it reminded me of my childhood where my mom and grandma would teach me how to sow.”

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‘Sweet Somalings’ art exhibit opens

Art patrons can submerge themselves into the never-before-seen world of the Sweet Somaling children. The gallery exhibit introduces whimsical creatures that are in part human, animal and plant at the Fine and Performing Arts Building.

Continue reading “‘Sweet Somalings’ art exhibit opens”

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Pan American Courts: Laredo’s unique variety venue

With local food trucks, the Musa art gallery and Cultura Beer Garden offering their clientel a unique Laredo experience, the Pan American Courts is known for its hotel and cafe built in 1964.

Continue reading “Pan American Courts: Laredo’s unique variety venue”

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