Witnessing the rich and colorful cultural traditions of the Mayan people from Guatemala as expressed in their music, textiles, dance, ceramics, and folklore is one of my most unforgettable travel experiences. Whether ambling through the market in Chichicastenango or boating from Panajachel across the lake to the town of Atitlan, my family and I had a sense of wonderment and admiration for these indigenous communities. Given the history of Mayans being subjected to displacement and human rights violations during the long Guatemalan civil war, I was proud to learn that UMass Dartmouth hosted Nobel Prize winner and social justice activist Rigoberta Menchu on campus in 2009.
I was therefore alarmed to read the Boston Globe article (click here) depicting the wave of beatings and thefts perpetrated on Mayan immigrants in New Bedford. At a meeting last week at the Centro Communitario de Trabajadores, director Adrian Ventura and his fellow workers recounted wrenchingly how masked men have repeatedly attacked numerous members of their community. Dean Mary Lu Bilek and I joined Prof. Lisa Maya Knauer, serving as a Spanish translator, and Prof. Irene Scharf and UMass Law students -- along with Corinne Williams from the Community Economic Development Center and Rev. David Lima -- to dialogue with the Mayan victims and help formulate a plan of action. Would you share your ideas about how to address this problem for a vulnerable community in our midst?
It is now time to submit your nomination for the Annual Jonathan Blake Waxler Prize recognizing a student who has exhibited dedication to social activism, advocacy, community organizing, or civic engagement (click here). Thank you to Prof. Robert and Ms. Linda Waxler for generously funding this award in memory of their son.
Kudos to two graduating students in Computational Mathematics who have already been accepted to graduate programs! Ed McClain was accepted to Louisiana State University's PhD Program in Astrophysics, and Andrew Davey was admitted to the Colorado School of Mines Graduate Program in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. Both were involved in the NSF-funded CSUMS program of undergraduate research directed by Prof. Sigal Gottlieb. Kudos as well to their mentors: Prof. Yanlai Chen for Andrew and Prof. Gaurav Khana for Ed.
Congratulations to Prof. Nora Ganim Barnes whose input as a social media expert was once again cited in a Time Magazine article titled "Facebook and Twitter are in a Race to Become Each Other"!
What a delight it was to visit Prof. John Middleton, Prof. Adam Manley, and their CVPA graduate students in the Artisanry in Wood/Furniture Design program at the Star Store last week. I was fascinated by the design artistry of Ge Yang, who showed us contemporary wood furniture that he designed incorporating traditional Chinese elements. Prof. Middleton's wood panels exhibiting found objects from Buzzards Bay piqued my curiosity.
If you have an opportunity, go and visit the new exhibit "Selfies and Friends: Contemporary Portraiture" at the Cade Tompkins Projects in Providence. One of the artists who is featuring self-portraits and paintings of others in their social circle is our own Prof. Suzanne Schireson.
I hope you plan to attend our Women Leading the Way forum on Tuesday, February 25 at 8:00 a.m. at the Claire T. Carney Library Grand Reading Room. Featured panel speakers are Dr. Marie McDemmond, President Emeritus of Norfolk State University and Board Member of the Lumina Foundation; Wilnelia Rivera, Director of External Affairs for Governor Deval Patrick's Office; and Dr. Adrienne Smith, Dean of Engineering Technologies at Springfield Technical College. This promises to be an exceptional opportunity to gain diverse perspectives and career insights from three successful minority women leaders.
Have a good week, everyone!