Arizona is among a unique group of states whose southern lines border Mexico, and where recent conversations about the U.S.-Mexico border have been colored by political strife and humanitarian crises like family separation and harsh punishment for those seeking to cross.
Arizona State University has played a major role in shaping emerging stories about the relationship between the border and the insurgence of creative events to uplift artists on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. At ASU’s Social Transformation Lab, that mission to center those unique perspectives is no different.
The Social Transformation Lab is partnering with Palabras Bilingual Bookstore to co-sponsor the upcoming event “Cisneros & Muñoz & Valenzuela: Bilingual Reading and Conversation,” featuring three prolific authors, Sandra Cisneros (author of “Woman Without Shame/Mujer sin vergüenza”), Manuel Muñoz (author of “The Consequences: Stories”) and Liliana Valenzuela (author of “Codex of Love: Bendita ternura” and translator of “Mujer sin vergüenza”).The event will take place at 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12, in the Education Lecture Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus. Registration for the event is now open.
At Saturday’s event, the authors will read excerpts from their books that touch on the perplexities of existing between language, space and between borders. The event will be presented in English and partially in Spanish.
“In a climate where the state legislative process is used to limit young people’s access to books like Sandra Cisneros’ classic novel “The House on Mango Street,” universities play an important role in creating the conditions for open dialogue and learning” says Mako Fitts Ward, director at the Social Transformation Lab.
“To have Cisneros in conversation with award-winning writers Manuel Muñoz and Liliana Valenzuela is a testament to the lab’s commitment to storytelling as imaginative meaning-making that offers opportunities for critical thought and healing in a time of social volatility.”
Palabras Bookstore, located in downtown Phoenix, has been a staple in the Valley since 2015 and aims to “promote cultural representation and liberation of historically marginalized BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color, including all intersectionalities) through community engagement involving literature and the arts,” as noted on its website.
“It’s important for the lab to work with the local community inside and beyond ASU” says Celina Osuna, a postdoctoral scholar at the Social Transformation Lab. “Palabras, as Arizona’s only bilingual bookstore, does the work of bringing people together to celebrate diverse voices and creative practices like fiction, poetry and art. We’re delighted to collaborate with them for this event.”
For more information on this event, check out the event Facebook page, visit Palabras’ event webpage or contact Palabras Bilingual Bookstore at (602) 595-9600 or email@example.com. Visit the Palabras online bookstore to order books by the featured authors.
Communications Specialist, Social Transformation Lab
Kyleigh GatesHaas, a student studying family and human development, psychology and early childhood education, spent eight weeks studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. She didn’t know what she would find, but went into the experience “looking forward to seeing a new culture and how different people live.”It didn’t take long for the student to notice stark differences from what she was used to …
Kyleigh GatesHaas, a student studying family and human development, psychology and early childhood education, spent eight weeks studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. She didn’t know what she would find, but went into the experience “looking forward to seeing a new culture and how different people live.”
It didn’t take long for the student to notice stark differences from what she was used to in America, such as a unique education system, free-range kids on public transportation and environmentally conscious shopping.
“It was interesting,” she said. “The schools were different just because they had the different grading system. So it was not just like your elementary, middle school and high school.”
The grading system she is referring to ranks student performance from a 1 to a 6, with a 1 being the best (excellent or “sehr gut”) and 5 or 6 being the worst (insufficient or “nicht genügend”). In addition, students can attend three different levels in Upper School, which offers students pathways to college preparation, certificates or trade schools instead of one single diploma.
GatesHaas was also shocked and fascinated that kids as young as kindergarten rode public transit to school alone.
“I think here (in America) you would not see that,” she says.
Researchers call this “independent mobility,” and some say it offers benefits for social and cognitive development. It helps that the Bahn, or German transportation system, is structured to be child friendly, offering free fares for children under 5 years old and discount opportunities for children aged 6–11 traveling alone.
But the differences in human behavior weren’t just in children: GatesHaas noticed that adults had a different attitude in public than she was used to seeing at home, especially in grocery stores. Environmentalism seemed mainstream, and she noticed that reusable bags and cups were not only commonplace in stores but expected. This is due in part to the countrywide ban on lightweight plastic bags that went into effect on Jan. 1.
She felt right at home in this atmosphere, as she already has a habit of bringing her own reusable bags shopping. “It was just interesting to see it as the norm there (in Berlin),” she says. “Whereas I think here, when I go places like to Trader Joe’s with my reusable bag, it’s not as common.”
Overall, GatesHaas says it was informative to see the culture and behavior in Berlin. As a student focusing on multiple human-centered degree programs, her experience brought insight into how people behave and develop in another country.
“That’s kind of just all my major is, is people,” she says.
GatesHaas, whose trip was funded by the Gilman Scholarship, also recommends that anybody travel abroad if they have the means, even if they’re unsure or don’t know anyone. She went into the experience alone but came home with several new friends, and even drove to Kansas to visit one of them after the trip.
“It’s super easy to find friends just because everyone is so excited to be there,” she says. “Everyone’s trying to meet everyone, so that was an amazing part.”
Communications Specialist Associate, T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics