Thanksgiving heart at the rhythm of Agriculture

By: Cecilia Monclova and Wilmary Perea

The Thanksgiving dinner of the Agricultural Science Faculty was on November 23 in the tennis court of the University of Puerto Rico (UPRM). This celebration started at 6:30p.m. and ended at 10p.m., when the professors were expulsing the approximately 400 students who did not want to leave.

In a beautiful court with natural plants decorating the center and the columns and with light beige and dark green tablecloths covering the tables was the scenario for this event.

Yairanex Roman was the host of the event one, which began to give the welcoming. Following the Agricultural Science Dean and Director, Hector Santiago, explained the purpose of the activity and the thankful heart that should reign.

Beatriz Rivera, a livestock industry student continued with a reflection and a video appealing to the Thanksgiving tradition. Next was the honor student Association Alpha Zeta and the Association of Horticulture Students, who did a reflection with music in sign language.

Then a five voice chorus with a violin sang the Juan Luis Guerra song “Tan solo he venido”. With two girls and three boys each one with different tones high and low gave to the song a whole new sense, with new vocal sounds and harmonies.

At last, the professor exhorted those presents to pray. Everybody stood up, closed their eyes and prayed for the one next to them.

Professors serving food to every student during the Thanksgiving dinner of Agricultural Science Faculty.

When the ceremony was over, the dinner and the party started.  While some people were waiting to get food, other students were dancing salsa and merengue.

The food was made by the graduated faculty of Science and Food Technology; the pork was one of the UPRM land, and the sweet cassava was made by members of the faculty. The food consisted in Chinese style vegetable rice, pork in sauce and sweet cassava cooked with cinnamon, sugar and anis.

All of this combined with a homemade fruit punch juice and delicious corn ice-cream as dessert.  Professors were serving each plate of food, as a show of their appreciation for the students.

After eating, the party started with students playing “plena” and singing. Everyone got together to sing about the UPRM, professors, food and just life. With the traditional “Bomba” song students got a chance to express their creativity.

This activity was made thanks to the professors who paid $20 to cover the expenses. This made the activity free for students.

Jamie Rivera, the Alpha Zeta vice-president, said, “I love this activity because we can be all together as a beautiful family.” She continued, “Two years ago they did not do this; I don’t know why, but I love this activity and I hope they keep on doing it.”

“I heard that this is the only Thanksgiving dinner that some students have because of personal reasons, maybe they are transfer or they don’t have family in the island” Jamie explained. “so this is a very special event for them too”

Leandro Hernandez, a student of general agriculture said: “I really liked the dinner, it was very organized. It proved that the students are talented not only in the academic aspect but also in music, singing and everything else that we saw.” He continued, “It was something really different because they took us out from the building to enjoy as a family.”

The head organizer of this activity is the secretary Madelyn Rios who wants to please the students. She got in contact with each association who participated and every student. She also got in contact with the professors to raise the money.

She looked for the place, the sound system and everything else. She was the main mind behind this amazing event.

Melissa Vila, President of the Honor Association Alpha Zeta, gave us her opinion; “It was a beautiful activity. It was the moment when the professors said thanks to the students because they are giving us this dinner and paying for it. Also, our students proved their talents. It is an activity where the students of the different Associations took of their time to give us that art gift to us.”

The UPRM had their own activities for the entire scholar community as the traditional “turkey race”. It took place in November 17, in front of the library and even under the rain saw the racers running for their reward. It was a wetly race but it also was a fun activity where student were waiting for the racers inside of the Student’s Center.

The Thanksgiving tradition comes from the original tradition in the United States where the fourth Thursday of November is the day to take dinner and give thanks to God for the food and everything that he gives to us.

Students enjoying and singing Christmas songs with “panderos”.

The history said that in 1621 in Masachussets a mix of European and North American Natives got together to have dinner to express their gratitude for the great harvest. It was a time to share with people that they love and to rest and enjoy together as Wikipedia tells.

This “American” tradition came to us because of the political situation of our country. Puerto Rico was invaded in 1898 by the United Stated and there started the cultural mix, not immediately but step by step we adapted their costumes and traditions to ours.

In Puerto Rico, the schools do special programs to remember this day and has special events as the “turkey race”. Every family in the country celebrates and takes lunch or dinner together with the traditional turkey.

Puerto Rico celebrates with a free labor day when just a few go to work, and even the biggest shopping malls are closed. In Manhattan, they do the traditional “Thanksgiving parade” that is transmitted by television worldwide.

This tradition is not only characteristic of the United States and Puerto Rico but also, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Japan, Liberia, the Netherlands and many more. This is a global celebration even though it is not celebrated on the same date in every nation.

The Cosplaying Community of “Borinquen”

By: Luis R. Pérez Lasalle

Popular culture in theU.S.has always been influenced by a mixture of the media and entertainment industries of both theUnited StatesandJapan. For decades, Japan has been a world leader in technological advances and a forerunner in cultural movements both traditional and modern. It comes as no surprise that the popularity of Japanese animation, or “anime”, made its way into the pop culture of theUnited States.

As the popularity of “anime” shows grew, so did the dedication of the western fan base that supported them. The followers of such shows quickly took pride in their love of them and the more dedicated fans would routinely attend conventions dressed in intricate costumes that resembled the clothing worn by popular or recognizable characters within each series or comic.

The term “cosplay” comes from the combination of the words “costume” and “play” and refers to the activity of dressing up as characters from American and Japanese animation and comics as well as characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and movies. It was first used by Nobuyuki Takahashi to describe his impression of all the costumed fans that attended the 1984 Worldcon, a Science Fiction convention held inLos Angeles. The costumes worn by cosplayers are often a testament to their own creativity or resourcefulness, involving careful planning, design and more often than not the ability to craft clothing or accessories to ensure that every detail matches the character they are trying to emulate.

Roberto Alejandro Arias is a Computer Engineering student as well as an avid and experienced cosplayer. I had the opportunity to speak with him about his past experiences as a cosplayer on the island as well as in the States while attending a smaller convention held on October 8th and 9th named “Kaisen 9”.

Roberto Arias striking a pose performed by the character Ben Tennyson of the animated show “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien”. Roberto worked on this costume over the course of several months to make it as similar as possible to the actual character’s clothing.

As we toured the convention grounds held in the Cosme Beitia Coliseum in Cataño, Puerto Rico, it quickly became apparent that I had stepped outside the conventional world and into a world of fantasy. Everywhere I looked, I could make out different characters, cosplayers posing for photos as well as scouring the merchandise booths in search of collectables. As I helped my friend take a picture with some female cosplayers, I asked him about the growth of the community within the island.

“Well, I’ve been doing this for about 3 years, give or take.” Replied Roberto with a smile as another eager bystander snapped a picture of him. “I would think there are more hardcore cosplayers on the island than anything else, since the community hasn’t been mainstream for that long.” he added after taking a few more pictures.

The crowd of cosplayers and visitors eagerly lined up for the Kaisen 9” convention. Some cosplayers opt for arriving at the convention grounds in full costume, while others prefer to change once inside so as to surprise other attendees.

Touring the grounds, I couldn’t help but agree that the convention seemed rather humble when compared to larger conventions in the States I had seen online. “ I’ve experienced both and they have been equally awesome,” he commented. “You can note some difference in the kinds of cosplayers in both countries. The Puerto Rican cosplayers tend to warm up to new people in a faster rate, but the North American cosplayers are more random in terms of what they come up with in a conversation.”

As the day rolled on, the convention remained as lively as ever. Game tournaments were held, dance competitions and comedic skits were performed with cosplayers acting out their favorite scenes from their respective shows. And finally by the end of the day the awards for the best costumes were handed out, with everyone feeling a mixture of exhaustion and deep satisfaction.

Commenting on the success of the convention I asked Roberto if he considered the larger conventions held on the island could improve or mimic the ones held in the States. “Oh, definitely yes. There are so many things that the conventions in theUShave done that we still lack here.” he replied enthusiastically. “Improving gaming and trading card tournaments are just the tip of it all. Finding bigger spaces to celebrate the conventions is another thing they could do as well as securing a larger participation from the big names in industry such as DC Comics, and Marvel Comics” Roberto added as we exited the convention grounds.

The cosplaying community of Puerto Rico is an avid, joyful and dedicated one that does all it can to expand and bring more attention to the hobby they enjoy so much. With more and more conventions being scheduled yearly, as well as newer ones dedicated to specific sectors of the community already in the works, it is clear that the cosplayers of Puerto Rico will attract much more attention and members in years to come.

Starting a River: A Beginner’s Guide to Freshwater Aquariums

By: Luis R. Pérez Lasalle

When most people hear the word “Aquarium” their thoughts immediately go to large tanks of corals and exotic fish that require dedication and hard work to keep healthy and beautiful. While saltwater tanks are indeed beautiful and usually best left to experienced fish keepers, their freshwater counterparts offer even the most basic of beginners the opportunity to have a vibrant and beautiful ecosystem within their own home or apartment without the need to break the bank or spend hours working on it. Fresh water aquariums are ideal for beginners as they require less upkeep than their salt water counterparts and still offer a plethora of colorful and unique fish species and live aquatic plants that can give any home a small but thriving ecosystem. With this guide I will show you a way to set up your very first fresh water tank as well as warn you on certain pitfalls and guide you towards other helpful individuals that can offer their own expert advice.

The first step you will need to follow to get started in the hobby is choosing the right size for your aquarium. “Bigger is better.” comments Pablo Robles, a veteran fish keeper and active member of the fish keeping community on the west side ofPuerto Rico. “Bigger tanks will offer the most stunning landscape possibilities as well as regulate the chemicals in the water a lot easier.” he adds with a chuckle as he loses himself in facts and past experiences. But bigger is not always better, as for beginners or new fish keepers might have a hard time finding or purchasing such tanks. “Everyone should start with a simple 10 or 20 gallon tank. They are easy to find, pretty cheap and can help anyone get the feel for the hobby.” comments Pablo before quickly detailing the amount of space required for bigger tanks. “If you don’t have a place to put the tank, a good place, then you shouldn’t buy one. You need to clear a perfect spot before you even buy a tank.”

An aquarium with plastic or synthetic plants is easier to maintain and is recommended for newer aquarium owners. Plastic plants do not wither, need pruning or require special chemicals to stay vibrant.

The next step, as Pablo pointed out, is to decide a location for your future aquarium, and believe it or not, there are several considerations you need to take before setting up the tank. Noise, amount of natural light, proximity to electrical outlets and proximity to other electrical devices should all be taken into consideration before selecting a spot for your new aquarium. Most fish are nervous when first introduced to a new home and will become stressed if their tank is close to any loud noises such as radios, televisions or slamming doors while the acclimate to their new surroundings. Another important requirement when choosing a location is the accessibility you will have to the tank. The space around the tank should be clear of obstacles to facilitate partial water changes and cleaning, more on those later. If you opted for a “planted” aquarium then the amount of natural light, or sunlight, the tank receives will also need to be taken into account. Keep planted tanks away from windows as too much sunlight might promote the unwanted growth of algae within the tank. The ideal location for your tank should be close to electrical outlets to facilitate the filtration and light system, away from noisy setting and easily accessible for better viewing as well as easy maintenance. When you have found and cleared the perfect spot for you tank, then it is time to go shopping.

A large 90 gallon planted aquarium is harder to maintain than smaller aquariums but the end result is captivating. With a variety of plants and driftwood the tank almost seems like a portion of river bed has been placed within the home.

When it comes to finding the best prices on aquariums it is best to shop around. Big name stores will usually offer “bundles” or “kits” that are very convenient for first time buyers as they possess everything you need to set up your first aquarium. Although bargain hunting is ideal, don’t shy away from your local pet shops. While the prices at local pet shops might be slightly higher than those of big name stores, the knowledge most pet shop owners possess makes the experience worth it. When looking for an ideal pet shop that sells high quality aquarium supplies you need to ask around. “It isn’t easy finding a good pet shop, like mine.” comments Luis Vazquez, owner of “Aqua Mundo” a pet shop that specializes in aquariums and all related products. “Some pet shops don’t know anything about fish, they just want to sell someone as many products as they can.” he elaborates with a disapproving tone as he experienced such salesmen when he first started out in the hobby. “They wanted me to buy a lot of filters and chemicals that, now I realize, beginners would have no use for. Everything from expensive fish food to chemicals for saltwater aquariums they tried to pass off as useful for freshwater aquariums.” To avoid finding yourself in a similar situation its best to look online for local aquarium hobbyist groups as they usually possess first hand experiences, both good and bad, concerning which shops offer the healthiest fish and the best prices. Good pet shops will have clean display tanks, fish that look colorful and energetic and knowledgeable employees that will direct you to the best products for your particular needs. If the fish tanks are grimy or the fish look sickly or weak it is best to avoid that pet shop as the survival rate of the fish you purchase might be low.

Once you’ve found an ideal pet shop, and have purchased a basic 10 gallon aquarium kit, it is time to set up the tank so that you can begin populating it. The initial set up is easy:

  • Thoroughly wash the gravel in a pale of clean tap water. Rinse the gravel until the water in the pale is clear so as to prevent cloudy waters and particulates.
  • Rinse the fish tank so as to remove any dust or dirt that might have come with the purchase.
  • Once both tank and gravel are clean, gently pour the gravel into the bottom of the tank, making sure there is at least an inch of gravel evenly covering the tank bottom.
  • Carefully add tap water to the aquarium making sure not to disturb the gravel too much in order to prevent cloudy water. Once the tank is filled to about an inch from the top margin add the Water Conditioner so as to remove any water impurities and chemicals found in ordinary tap water.
  • With clean hands place the plastic plants and decorations around your aquarium to suit your own tastes. Tip: Its best to bunch plants together as it gives fish a place to hide and feel safe.
  • Set up the filter and light cover of the aquarium.

Once you’ve set up your aquarium it needs to sit for a about 5 to 7 days in order for the water and natural filtering cycle to stabilize. During that “cycling” period you can choose the type of fish you want for your aquarium. The most common rule to follow when deciding what type of fish to purchase revolves around the size of the aquarium. For a small 10 gallon aquarium, a good rule to follow is 1 small fish (1 – 2 inches in length) per every gallon or 2 medium fish (3 – 5 inches in length) per gallon. This will ensure lively and healthy fish while keeping the aquarium clean and lowering the amount of maintenance needed. For beginners the best fish are called “community fish”. These are species that are relatively calm and peaceful and get along with other species. Amongst these are Guppies, Platys, Mollies and Tetras. These species are colorful, come in a wide variety of colors and patterns and are bred to be resistant to most beginners’ mistakes. A school of 10 Neon Tetras swimming in unison, with their vibrant blue and red bodies are a very pleasant and beautiful sight in any home.

Neon Tetras are commonly available in most pet shops and are considered a favorite amongst new and veteran aquarium owners. They are best kept in groups of 6 or more and should be provided with plenty of plant cover to hide in.

Once the water has cycled it is time to purchase your fish and get them home as quickly as possible. When introducing your new fish to their new home follow these steps:

  • Rinse off the outside of the bags with clean tap water to remove any unwanted particles that might have hitched a ride from the pet store.
  • Place the bags floating on the surface of the aquarium water and leave them there for about 15 minutes to equalize the temperature of the bag water with that of your aquarium.
  • Once the time has passed, carefully cut a hole on the top of the bag and with a fish net coax the fish out into the aquarium. Try to avoid as much as possible pouring the water in the bag into your aquarium to prevent any unwanted contaminants.
  • Once all the fish are in the aquarium, turn off the aquarium lights and give them a few hours to get used to and explore their new homes.
  • Congratulations you now have your own aquarium.

The “Asociación de Acuaristas de Aguadilla” holds monthly meetings to discuss aquarium tips and share experiences. They readily welcome new members and invite them to participate actively in the group.

If you are wondering: “What now?” then allow me to finish off my guide with some extra advice. Perform weekly and monthly maintenance on your tank to keep your fish healthy. Daily feedings, weekly partial water changes and monthly filter cleanings will ensure that your fishy friends live a long and healthy life. If your interest in the hobby grows then the internet is filled with information and support groups of fellow aquarium owners that can help you with any doubts. The “Asociación de Acuaristas deAguadilla” is an organization of avid and knowledgeable aquarium owners that hold monthly meetings in a calm and friendly environment to discuss the hobby, give away fish and plants, educate fellow members on new fish keeping techniques or practices and help new aquarium owners in their endeavors.

First Ever Psychology Week: Making History at UPRM

By: Paula A. Negrón & Karla M. Rodríguez

The Psychology Department celebrated its First Psychology Week, coordinated by Julio Cruz, ex president of the Association for Psychology Students and student at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, and took place at the Anexo de Tarzan. The Week started Monday November 14th and ended Thursday November 17th.  The schedule for everyday began at 9:30AM with students giving presentations regarding their respective research projects and professors giving conferences about revolving around the field of psychology. The aforementioned events usually culminated by noon.

Here we have students listening to the Conference given by Bernadette Delgado at the Anexo de la Cafeteria, Salon Tarzan.

There was a table for every psychology-based student association at the University: The Association for Psychology Students (or AEPSIC, for its acronym in Spanish), Neuroscience Honor Society and Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. The first day was somewhat uneventful; there was not much attendance from neither students nor professors. However, the rest of the week was graced with the presence of a much bigger audience.

The whole week was possible thanks to Julio and a group of students that he handpicked himself from every association. “Everything started when I was the president of AEPSIC. Every other department had their thing, their week, and we didn’t, so I decided to do something.” Of course, every project has its downhill moments. According to Julio Cruz, there was little to no support from the professors. “A professor wanted me to cancel the whole week the same day it started because, according to her, students couldn’t run the week alone, but it was still a success.”

“I would love to see more support from the professors, obviously. I am certain that if they gave more attention to what was our first Psychology week, more students would’ve come to the events,” said Julio, who is graduating in May. Because of that, the planning for next year’s Psychology Week falls into the hands of someone else. “Maybe next time Graduate Schools from outside of Puerto Rico will come,” he added.

Here we have the table from AEPSIC where information, pictures and even candy was given to the students.

“There should be more support from the professors so the week looks more professional. And we should legitimize the invitation to the professors,” Rose Rodríguez, president of AEPSIC, expressed, in concurrence with Julio’s words. “Also, there should be opportunities for students to present their themes of interest even when they haven’t done any research work.” She added, emphasizing on the importance of getting both faculty and the student body involved in an activity that is not only important but beneficial to all parties involved.

At the end of the day, Julio was very proud about what he accomplished with his team, everything worked out as planned, and all the events were right on schedule, specially the last, grand event.

To culminate with the first ever Psychology Week, a graduate school fair was held in the Anexo de Tarzán Thursday, November 17th. Starting at 9AM, universities from all over the island arrived on campus to both recruit and inform the students of Colegio. Among the universities present we could find: University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras, University of Puerto Rico, Law School, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, Ponce’s School of Medicine, Interamerican University at Aguadilla, Interamerican University at San Germán, Interamerican University at Río Piedras, Cambridge College, Hostos Faculty of Law at Mayagüez, Center for the Caribbean Studies, East University at Cabo Rojo, Pontifical Catholic University at Ponce and Turabo University. Despite the more psychology-based focus of the week, this last event targeted students from all majors. A diverse group of graduate school representatives, which included the aforementioned Law Schools, Med Schools and institutions with graduate programs that focused on anything from Economy, History, Social Work, Education, Business Administration, Art and Theology (among others) to Psychology itself, set up tables and handed out pamphlets and paraphernalia allusive to their respective institution.

The recruiters were all smiles and seemed to be trying hard to be very helpful to the students who approached their tables. They focused on a variety of things, from informing the students about the programs they offered, to talking about the perks of choosing their university. Some of the recruiters even showed a competitive edge as they tossed around comments about the other universities to make themselves look more appealing. In consequence, the institutions handed out gifts to the students which included pens, pencils, notepads and little satchels, all of which had a university’s emblem etched upon them.

Students were also handed a questionnaire sheet in which to input their name, postal and e-mail address, phone number, and the program they were interested in in order to receive more information about the universities that way.

“I thought this job fair was very helpful, because most of the time, job fairs that feature foreign universities are held on campus, but never ones that feature local ones. At least not is this big of a proportion. This job fair allowed me to learn about what programs are offered here on the island, and this will allow me to not only have more options in the future, but it will help me to know how to prepare better,” said Yerardene Soto, a psychology student who is also interested in pursuing a law degree. “I am glad that I am more informed now. It might make it easier to make a decision between continuing a career in psychology or choosing to attend Law School. Or maybe I will choose both now that I know I can do that!” She added with a laugh.

Larizza Hernández, a representative from the Social Sciences department, and the woman who, with help from students, planned the whole event also stuck around, helping students in whatever way she could. She stood by the door, greeting everybody with a smile, and eventually proceeded to hand out snacks and drinks to everyone present. From corn muffins, to juice boxes and bags of chips, the students seems to be pleased with the free food, and henceforth, continued to the arrive at lunch time. In the end, the activity was a success as a cheerful, chattering throng of students was seen leaving the premises with gifts, food and smiles on their faces.

“I just hope that next year’s Psychology Week can be a greater success than this one, and that with the help of the professors, more students will come and this might become a new tradition at the University,” Rose Rodríguez commented casually as the first ever Psychology Week came to an end.

Operation Christmas Child

By: Camila D. González Sotomayor

When people think about Christmas, happiness, joy and lots of stories come to their minds. Christmas has always been one of the most exciting and special occasion during the year because of the quality time spent with family and friends, the parties and recess of work and university. People, especially children, identify December 25th with gifts. As people know, gifts are a simple and special detail that makes others think “you were thinking about me;” it’s a creative way to let others know how much we love and care for them.

During the past months, The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Mayagüez Chapter (SHPE-UPRM) with its Community Outreach Coordinator (COC), Camila González, ran a famous activity around the world named “Operation Christmas Child” (OCC). This activity which takes place every year consists on preparing shoeboxes with presents that after a long process of checking one by one end up in the tender hands of  poor children in some place of the world. OCC is an activity from the Samaritan’s Purse and their purpose with this lovely cause is to give, like all people do in Christmas, a simple gift that will bring out smiles and happiness to children who have suffered during the year.

Part of the boxes for Operation Christmas Child in the SHPE-UPRM's office.

Every year thousands of boxes are collected and spread out to children and SHPE-UPRM decided to be part of the team. From August to November 18th, 2011, the student organization started the marketing of the activity among the university, middle schools, high schools and churches to achieve the goal of 400 boxes. Besides a good marketing, members of the E-Board and the Community Outreach Support Team apply other techniques for the benefit of the collection by communicating with their professors and teachers of other schools to give bonus points to those students who collaborate with the activity by preparing a shoebox.

Everything was about hard work. The student organization office of SHPE-UPRM, located in the Industrial Engineering building, was full of boxes covered with colorful Christmas wrapping paper and decorative ribbons. Every day of the last week near the deadline, boxes were located in cars and then moved to Aguada’s drop off center. Then, after boxes were verified, they were sent to the official drop off center in Isabela and finally, on Tuesday morning, November 22nd, all the shoeboxes were sent to the United States. If everything goes well, all the boxes collected in Puerto Rico and near places will end in the African Continent.

All the dedication, effort and perseverance paid off. SHPE-UPRM passed their goal of 400 boxes and collected 1,455 for one of the most lovely and big causes for Christmas, Operation Christmas Child. It was the first time that the organization ran the activity and it was incredible and successful. Everyone was happy and satisfied with the results. Also, one of the activity coordinators in Puerto Rico called the SHPE-UPRM’s COC to congratulate her and the organization for the hard work and results obtained.

One of the persons that helped Camila González to achieve the first goal of 400 was Natasha Santiago. Natasha is a freshman student from Civil Engineering who is part of SHPE-UPRM and dedicates her free time to the Community Support Team of the organization. Natasha says “I really like to help people every time I can; I love community work. I was excited about Operation Christmas Child and their purpose. Like I said before, I enjoy helping people but the fact that everything that I was doing was to impact the children’s community make me put some extra effort and love in the activity.”

The responsible of the activity! Iván Otero (External VP) and Camila González (Community Outreach Coordinator).

Another person who dedicated a lot of his time to the activity was Juan José Rosado. Like Natasha, Juan is an engineering student that dedicates his free time to the Community Support Team of SHPE-UPRM. Juan shares his experience and says “I was in shock of how the SHPE-UPRM office was some days before the deadline; there were boxes, boxes and boxes everywhere! It was funny to help the SHPE-UPRM’s COC during the week to move the boxes from the office to her car. Every time she left the university her car was full of boxes (with more than 150 boxes each time). I really enjoyed what I did and feel proud of what we got.”

There were few students like Natasha and Juan that dedicated a good amount of their free time to support this activity. One of those was Gladynel Saavedra who is part of the Community Support Team and decided to share the activity with her mom’s school. Gladynel says “Definitely, Operation Christmas Child was a lovely and good experience for me. I’m excited of the big amount of boxes that we get as a team and I’m happy to know that my mom’s school contributed with more than 300 boxes.”

Another girl who decided to share the activity in another place other than the university was Gabriela Torres. Gabriela is an engineering student and part of the SHPE-UPRM’s E-Board. She shared the activity with her mom’s school, and like Gladynel, she obtain good results. Gabriela says “I loved Operation Christmas Child and their objective. To have contributed with more than 200 boxes to make this activity a successful one was the best thing that I did for this semester. I think that many children will be happy this Christmas because of the presents. We did this with love and I hope that they like it.”

Every day is a perfect day to share what we have with the ones we love. This activity is a great opportunity for people to, during Christmas, feel empathy for those who don’t have the same resources and luck that they do. Without a doubt, SHPE-UPRM did a great work this semester with Operation Christmas Child. Next year, people who didn’t participate of the activity, could do it and the ones that did it this semester could help bring out smiles and happiness in children and their families again. Thumbs up for SHPE-UPRM!

Signs of Abuse: How to know if you’re in risk of domestic violence

By Dariana Alicea

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of sex, age or gender, the scars are always hard to erase and not necessarily because of physical abuse, but psychological too. According to Melinda Smith, M.A., noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it.

Prof. María del Pilar, Director of the program to prevent violence against woman giving her thoughts on the situation.

To look at his kitchen is enough for Michael O’neill[1] to remember his father, but not in a good way – the way he used to hit his mom every night, in front of him, after getting drunk.

“When I was about 6 years old, I witnessed the first time, or at least I thought it was the first time, my father hit my mother.” Michael O’neill said.

On Tuesday November 22nd, 2011 at the “Tree of Life” in the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (UPRM), some people from the program to prevent violence against women, gathered to commemorate those that have been killed because of domestic violence over the last year.

“Almost 30 cases have been filed this year and there are some that have not been filed yet” said Prof. María del Pilar, Director of the program to prevent violence against women in UPRM. This was said in tears because one of the cases was a close friend of hers, even part of the program.

Now, one may ask: What is the purpose of domestic violence? One word, control, the purpose is to control the person that they are with or the person they are abusing of.

According to Melinda Smith, M.A., domestic violence does not discriminate, it happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. Even though women are the common target, men are also victims, but most of the time in the emotional part, but physical abuse occurs to them as well.

There are many ways to know if one’s partner is a possible aggressor. One of common ways to know is if that person constantly watches over the partner or asks friends to do so and tries to control what that person does and who that person talks to. Also they  the way that person dresses and even control the money that person uses.  (Woman, is your partner a possible aggressor?, 2011)

Another symptom is jealousy, that person gets angry if he/she sees their partner talking to someone of the opposite sex (or same-sex in case of homosexual relationships) and even prohibits the partner to do so. According to Woman, is your partner a possible aggressor?, that person may also expect the partner to spend all of his/her time with him/her and express to that person “I cannot live without you” or “If you’re not mine, you’re not anyone’s ”.

Michael O’neill said that his father was not possessive of his mother; that his problem was due to the abuse of alcohol every day. “There was never a day in my life I did not see my father drunk” he said.

Ninety-two percent of the domestic abuse assailants prosecuted use of alcohol or other drugs on the day of the assault, according to a recent report in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

There are a number of factors that help predict domestic violence, such as having witnessed abuse as a child, mental illness as alcoholism, drug abuse or neurological problems and depression for not succeeding in life.

If one’s partner forces undesired actions or seems at times very affectionate and other times hostile, then it might be a case of domestic violence towards sexual and emotional abuse. María del Pilar said that nowadays sexual and emotional abuse cases have increased, but the percent has not gone higher than the common physical abuse.

Shirts were made to support those who have been abused. “Mayagüez says: Stop Violence Now!”

In cases of being in an unhealthy relationship, precautions should be taken. Elizabeth A Manning, PhD states that independence should be acquired by saving money, trusting a family member or friend with the situation and consulting a counselor as soon as possible.

Megan Gerber, MD suggests that an emergency bag should be prepared with clothes, work permits, a cell phone, an address book, credit cards or money and other useful items.

Also community service hotlines are always available to help those in case of being attacked. It is always recommended to call 9-1-1. In case of guidance there are hotlines 24 hours a day available (787-722-2977) or (877-722-2977).

Domestic violence is a very delicate situation for anyone who’s been through it, but help is always available; in case of the aggressors help is also available but to make a change, they have to want to make it happen.


[1] A fictitious name is used.

Equity in diversity

(Color Feature Story)

By. Michelle Montañez Hernández

On November 29 of 2011 in the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM), the Nameless Queer Collective Group carried out the second march for equality of diversity in front of the Carlos Chardon building at 10:30am.

The Nameless Queer Collective Group is a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth from the UPRM directed and organized by Damian Cabrera. Unfortunately, the organizer could not attend the activity because he had an important meeting with one of his teachers. But the activity was conducted by Luis Omar Garcia who presented all the artistic numbers there made and took charge of music for the entertainment of those present.

“Con el recuerdo al hombro…” the march began with a poem of Angela Maria Davila, a Puerto Rican revolutionary poetess of the 70’s, taught and dramatized by the young Angelia Rivera, who also present other poems of the poetess during the activity. Later on, Raquel Salas Rivera, an integrant of the Nameless Queer Collective Group recited one of her own poems. The student already has a poetry book called “Caeca de Anhelos Turbios” which is on sale in the bookstore of the UPRM and Don Quixote in the library, located in the town of Mayaguez.

One of the main guests of this march was the Joyce, a transgender from Mayaguez, who offered the public many artistic numbers of different artists. Among these the interpretation of the song Unbreak my heart by Toni Braxton and “Loca con mi tigre” and “Gitana” by Shakira. The Joyce emphasizes a part of the Gypsy song which says “Do not try to dominate me and tie me, I am who I choose as wrong.” The transgender left with many smiles and applauses.

Then, all the marchers were invited to express their acceptance or rejection of the LGBT movement and the equity of diversity in microphone and in a poster that was posted on a wall in front of the Chardon building. “The purpose of this activity is to promote the diverse environment on our campus. The Committee against homophobia and discrimination takes a little over a year doing such activity to raise awareness about the diversity of sexuality and gender” said Raquel Salas Rivera

In the activity they also mentioned a several upcoming events from this group. Among these, the film festival queer gallery which also takes place on November 29 starting at 8:00pm, and the second gear for equity of diversity which will take place on Thursday, December 8 at 5pm, leaving the main entrance UPRM to Columbus Park.

“It is important to conduct such activities to educate about the value of the sexual diversity, against homophobia, and to serve as a means of expression to that diversity. There will be no new society without respect for diversity. Humans aspire to a society without sexism and without marginalization but sometimes do not realize that each other are pressed by partaking of discrimination in accounting that are or think differently than them” said Luis Omar Garcia. Previously, there have been many cases of violence against homosexuals and transsexuals in Puerto Rico. Between November and May of 2010 occurred a series of murders whose victims were gay or transgender. Michell Galindo, Jorge Steven Lopez, Ashley (Juan Antonio) James and Angie (Angel) Gonzalez were the last cases of homicides on the island during these past six months.

The group heads to the entire university community, regardless of sexual orientation, as it is to make everyone accept and respect as they are. They urged their peers, the college students, to participate and be part of their different activities, so that further promotion of an environment of respect, both on campus and outside it.

“That saying that we are all equal in reality is a myth. We are all different as human beings, but that diversity is rich in its breadth. It is not necessarily to be equal to have relations of solidarity and respect” said Luis Omar Garcia.

On the walls were a series of cards that read “our affection does not affect you,” “stop homophobic violence, demand respect for diversity”, and “love do not kills, homophobia does”. Besides, various newspaper clippings that mentioned some of the murders that have occur in Puerto Rico against homosexuals and transgender.

The activity closed around 11:45am with the interpretation of another two Angela Maria Davila’s poems by the student Angelia Rivera. Raquel Salas also delight the audience with several of his poems. At the end, Luis Omar Garcia gave thanks to the audience for being there and exhorts them to continue supporting the movement.

This organization intends to continue to carry out various activities over the coming years. The next semester they will be conducting the fourth symposium of the other side.

Interpretation of the Gypsy song by The Joyce.

The symbols of sexuality, promoting diversity and gender equality.

Oswald Torres: Astronomer At Heart

By: Arnaldo G. Nieves Vázquez

University of Puerto Rico of Mayagüez’s planetarium

On November 15, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. I went to the University of Puerto Rico’s planetarium at the physics department of the Mayagüez campus and met this man I had previously seen at an astronomy club’s activity and I asked him if he remembered talking about telescopes and constellations; his name was Oswald Torres. After a while he remembered and I thought he would make a great reference to another paper I was going to write.

After our conversation I realized he was very passionate with astronomy so I decided to change my paper’s direction and focus it on his relationship with astronomy and how it developed, so I asked him to meet up for an interview. We met up the following week at the campus after 4:00 p.m. and had our interview.

When Torres was asked what made him pursue astronomy, he replied: “It all started when I was seven years old and we moved from one section of New York City to another section, around 1957-1958, in a third story apartment building and when I looked out the fire escape I asked my mother: “What are those in the night sky?” and she said “those are stars.” But that didn’t satisfy me.”

A few days later his mother took him to the New York Public Library to sign up for his first library card. For his first visit, he took out 8 books to learn about astronomy. But that did not satisfy him either.

“After around a year’s worth, I read every book on astronomy in that public library from the children’s section,” Torres stated. Then he progressed to reading astronomy books from the adults’ section. “I started learning astronomy at an early age.”

For Christmas, his parents bought him a telescope. While most children would be watching television at night, Torres would be out in his fire escape looking at stars. Torres came up with a design on a ‘new’ telescope, which he later on found out was already invented; but he came up with the design on his own.

“When I moved to Georgia, I came across a newspaper article in 1988-1989, NASA needed volunteers to give new ideas for a man expedition to Mars,” Torres replied after being asked about astronomy projects he had participated in. Soon enough, he filled out the information to volunteer and wrote a thesis on what was the most economical way to send a crew to Mars and back. Later, Torres received a book in the mail with parts of his thesis in it with his name accredited.

Torres has been in a total of four astronomy associations: two in New York, one in Georgia, and Puerto Rico’s ‘Sociedad de Astronomia de Puerto Rico,’ which he is currently in.

Torres defines himself as an amateur astronomer: “…amateur is from the Greek word meaning ‘the love’; the love I have for astronomy, and I love to share that with people, it makes me feel good.” He stated that he doesn’t expect anything in return for it, just that hopefully it will influence others with this dynamic of sharing knowledge and benefit mankind.

When asked about his favorite spot to look at the stars, he answered: “…La Pitaya, in the Cabo Rojo section, that’s my favorite spot because I live only four miles away from there, its very easy for me…but its a very dark sight there and its one of the few places in my life that I have seen the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.”

When discussing light pollution, Torres shared information that had caught his interest when he once read about the topic. There are various medical problems due to the glare of light at night; one of them is that it causes cerebral cancer in women.

Torres also explained how smog is formed and how light pollution is related to it: “the light at night is stopping a process with the ozone and some of the gases from combining and its created smog in the city during the day time…at night time without light, the smog would be allowed to rise up and break down; but with all the night lights on, the smog stays.”

Torres’s most recent project is astrophotography. He used to do astrophotography by film, but now he is working on it digitally.

Astronomy is not Oswald Torres’s income, just his hobby, “I always do it for free,” he stated. He takes care of his parents here in Puerto Rico and manages all of his family’s finances as their caretaker.

Oswald Torres plans to pursue astronomy as a university student soon now that he is already 60 years old.

Oswald Torres looking through his telescope

References:

Interview with Oswald Torres. 22 November 2011

DJs: Behind The Decks

By: Arnaldo G. Nieves Vázquez

DJ Shaylom's DJing console

 

It’s 2011 and people still enjoy going to a great party! And where there is a great party, chances are that there is a pretty good DJ on the stage that night.

Lately there has been a ‘boom’ in the rise of upcoming DJs who specialize in the ‘Electronica’ genre. When asked about his opinion about this, DJ Shaylom replied: “Nowadays everyone wants to be a DJ, it’s become more like the new trend.”

DJ Shaylom has been in the DJ business for over a year now and has been a resident DJ at Chillin Bar & Grill at Mayagüez since the beginning of August this year. Some of his most successful parties include: The Euro Vibe, Under Glow Electro Party and recently, Electro DJ Battle.

Here in Puerto Rico most, DJs are having a hard time getting booked for gigs if they are not already well known in the DJ community. “It’s so much harder getting a gig on this island than over there in the ‘States’ (U.S.A.); there’s less competition and enough parties for everyone,” DJ Naru Roach commented. DJ Naru Roach, from San German, is known more for mixing his own original tracks and creating his own events like DJ Shaylom.

A successful DJ career depends on how high that DJ’s reputation is; the higher the reputation, the more successful the DJ will be. And what easier way to build a DJ’s reputation than a competition or ‘DJ Battle’ with other DJs?

The private school, S.E.S.O., hosted a DJ battle in campus on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 called ‘PaloozaCITY: The Ultimate DJ Battle.’ This event had prizes for the top three DJs but “my biggest prize was watching the crowd cheering and dancing to my music,” said DJ Shaylom after winning first place in the DJ battle that night.

Both DJ Shaylom and DJ Naru Roach, along with six other DJs, participated in a recent event, created by DJ Shaylom himself, called ‘Electro DJ Battle.’ This DJ battle took place on Friday Oct. 21, 2011 at Chillin Bar & Grill. “The purpose of this event was to have more DJs acknowledged in the community without having to struggle completely on their own,” DJ Shaylom said.

But what is it that makes a good DJ? What tips can be recommended to new upcoming DJs? According to DJ Master Course, a good DJ looks confident while mixing and interacts with the crowd.

A good DJ plays a good set and DJ Cruze says: “the best way to make your DJ set flow is to know your records or CDs.” Playing songs randomly without knowledge is very risky and not recommended.

According to DJ Master Course, good DJs are basically very sociable and usually are the first to arrive and last to leave parties. This way they facilitate building their fan base and are more able to stay connected with that fan base they have created.

Another tip for new upcoming DJs is to ‘read the crowd,’ play songs that the crowd will enjoy. “If the crowd doesn’t like a track, then they will vote with their feet,” DJ Cruze said.

Finally and probably the most important of all, good DJs will always practice and try to learn something new whenever they can because “average DJs practice until they get it right and only the very best DJs practice until they can’t get it wrong,” says DJ Master Course.

People dancing and cheering on the DJs at Electro DJ Battle

References:

DJ Cruze. http://www.djcruze.co.uk. 7 April 2006. 20 October 2011 <http://www.djcruze.co.uk/cms/2006/04/07/planning-a-dj-set/&gt;.

DJ Master Course. djmastercourse.com. 6 April 2010. 20 October 2011 <http://blog.djmastercourse.com/5-tips-on-what-makes-a-good-dj/&gt;.

 

Some Culture for a Grade

By Joshua González Pastrana

The day is just beginning and every section of the folkloric dance class is ready to make their debut to the public. The University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) coliseum is half full with friends and family anxious to see a familiar face dancing. Every student nervously waits their turn to earn themselves a final grade to conclude a semester of hard work.

For some years now, it is known to the UPRM community that the Folkloric Dance class’ final exam is a public dance performed in the Mangual Coliseum of the campus. This semester, thanks to Prof. Margarita Fernandez, was not the exception as all six sections made their appearances at the basketball court center with a room full of known spectators.

The main idea is to promote Puerto Rican folk music like plena and bomba using this class, which is part of the Physical Education department. Although, during the whole semester at no moment it is taught to students about these dance types until the end of the year where just a “Especial del Banco Popular” (Musical Special by Popular Bank), “Raíces” (Roots), is exposed to the class so that they start brainstorming. Every group is responsible of their own choreography.

It is exactly 10:30 in the morning and all sections gathered in the middle to warm up and lose the stress by doing a routine taught in class, the Troika, a Russian folk dance. Every girl is wearing a “traje típico” (Puerto Rican traditional dress), some of them with an “amapola”(poppy) flower in their hair and boys white button shirts with khaki or black pants and a straw hat.

Followed by an unnoticeable gap, the first group started their dance with a spontaneous song intro from Bruno Mars’ The Lazy Song which quickly cut – off to start a medley of very well known plena songs like, “Cuando las mujeres quieren a los hombres”, (When women want men).

Every group following up performed plena and bomba medleys, except for one in particular who incorporated salsa to the beginning of the routine. Some even introduced some classical Puerto Rican poetry in between dances. One group brought two musicians to play the “tumbadoras” (Puerto Rican folk drum) while they danced. Originality was not absent.

All went according to the schedule thanks to some great organization by Prof. Fernandez.

“I loved it! They must have been practicing for months, I bet”, said Ybet Marín, best friend of one of the first section students. The preparation seemed as if the classes had practiced non-stop. “I even want to enroll myself in this class next semester.”

Ironically, Marilu Kercadó expressed, “we only had four weeks with two 50-minute classes per week to coordinate the dance routine. So, we had to practice off hours and that’s not easy with the finals coming up. Evidently, it paid off.”

This event is an excellent example of  “not everything is what it seems”. Marilu exposed some of the troubles that each section went through to get their presentations done. “There were a lot of fights. Too many people giving orders but none were willing to take them”, angrily said the third year student. “We even changed and added parts of the routine the day before the presentation!”

A fact is, that it is not common for a one-credit class, which is an elective, like folkloric dance, to finalize which so much elaboration. A public presentation where a student is graded means hard work, off hour meetings and a lot of patience.

Still, “if anyone appreciates any kind of art exposure, they will enjoy making this happen. It is something where you can express yourself, not only in the final dance but also throughout the whole semester”, said Marilu with a relaxed smile. “I loved this class for the simple fact of coming to lose all stress of the week. I wish I could take it again.”

Puerto Rico’s heritage is very wide in terms of its roots. Like every Puerto Rican kid is taught since the first grade of the “mixture”: Spaniard, African and Taíno. Marilu, prideful, said “we can’t let this greatness fade away. We are far to important to the world.”

In conclusion, it is great activities like this that promote culture to stay alive in Puerto Rico and be passed on to every generation. It cannot be obviated that it also shows some Puerto Rican roots to many international students in the campus. Folk dancing is a heritage that must be preserved no matter what and giving a grade to do it will make it possible for it not to disappear.

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