Puerto Rico’s Education Progress

By: Joseph Y. Cordero & Jennifer Rodríguez

Date: March 22, 2012

Type: Historical

 

MAYAGUEZ, PR – Education is a very important aspect of every country. Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, said: “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.”, because he knew the influence that education has over mankind. In Puerto Rico, education took an active role in society since the beginning of the 20thcentury. According to the Department of Education of Puerto Rico (DE), 79.6% of Puerto Ricans did not know how to read or write. Just a few decades ahead this illiteracy rate went down to 31.5%, and in recent times the illiteracy is around 6%. Regardless of the impressive success in getting people aware of the importance of education, now the task is more profound. We need to start to worry about the quality of education, motivating influential organizations like “JLM Professional Education Services of Puerto Rico” and the Department of Education of Puerto Rico to work together.

JLM Professional Education Services of P.R. is an incorporation that promotes workshops and guidance, to teachers, so they can reach students in a proper way. JLM offers tutoring and educational activities to students of every area, including Special Education Students, with the purpose of helping them to achieve highly academic goals.

According to the US Census Bureau and the CIA – World Factbook, from the 94% literacy rate in Puerto Rico, 60% of them have a high school degree. In modern society, in order to accomplish a comfortable lifestyle it is almost compulsory to have at least a college degree. JLM professional Education Services of Puerto Rico is an incorporation that promotes workshops and guidance to teachers and families, in order for the new generation to stay in schools and finish a complete academic profile. Jose Luis Malavé, Vice-president of JLM, comments: “Every Puerto Rican deserves the education that any other country would aspirate.” Malavé also mentioned: “The key to achieve a higher educational level in Puerto Rico, is to start with our public schools.”

Puerto Rico’s educational methods have remained unchanged for the past 20 to 30 years. The education, as every other field, is ever changing and it should be updated and optimized with time. This implies that it is not convenient to maintain the methodology for too long or the goals might not be reached as intended. Due to the inconsistent system of Puerto Rico’s education, students from the island tend to dropout, since the schools cannot reach the students as they want. One example of this is that students at home are involved in the modernization of our world throughout the technology, and when they go to school they see it lame, old fashioned and boring. Jose L. Malavé does not only blame schools, he is aware of the fact that students dropout of school falls on the responsibility of society itself. Every subgroup of society has a goal, specifically in education. The family needs to attend the necessities of the child, and schools should have prepared teachers to teach students, between other responsibilities. Malavé identifies that subgroups sometimes expects that their responsibilities be fulfilled by other subgroups in society.

On the other hand, a person like Malavé may not have such a direct contact with the students, parents and teachers, but Adabel Nieto’s job has this direct contact. She is a DE’s Supervisor of teacher’s development at the Camuy’s district and her work consists of assisting teachers, so they can achieve the standards established by “Las Pruebas Puertorriqueñas”. According to the DE, the annual standard per class is approximately 66%, 69% and 34%, for Spanish, Math and English classes, respectively. This standard reflects the goal that students need to achieve in order for the school to be considered an institution with the necessary requirements to teach an outstanding education.  “We want to help teachers to give adequately their courses and, fullfil the goals of the the federal law named ‘No Child left Behind’“, said Adabel about the mission of her work. She also commented about the reasons why students are not adequately prepared for the standard tests. “The department has not been orienting teachers about their work, and they have been teaching what they think is correct”, said Adabel. In the past and still today, in many schools the teacher does not have accessible the necessary tools to give their students the best lecture.

Adabel also points out that the blame does not fall directly on the teacher. Students go to school without any support from their family, and teachers end up having to play the role of the parents in the school, a problem similar to the situation described by Malavé. Student’s parents do not attend school meetings or any other important activity that is related to their children’s education. Regardless of the outside factors that affect the development of education in the younger ones, Adabel thinks that the approach of using standardized tests as guidelines, surely, orientates the teacher to follow a format that makes it easier to discuss the topic and makes it more general in every school.

Adabel Nieto beside Raquel Vargas, Director of the Biology Department of the University of Puerto Rico Arecibo (UPRA), in a workshop intended for teachers. The workshop is given to enforce de research area in science in coordination with UPRA and NASA.

Puerto Rico’s actual education unfortunately shows problems that, in real perspective, are the reason for student’s to have lost interest in higher education. Puerto Rico has been changing in educational aspects since the beginning of the 20th century. Although the changes have been made and society can see the difference through the years, the progress in education is still a long way to go.  The motivation exists in students, but is not reinforced. Malavé and Adabel both mentioned that besides all the external factors, the DE and its schools need to evolve as modern institutions. Teachers, currently, have the necessity of updating their educational methods in order to reach students. Parents need to guide their children by dedicating time and giving them the required motivation for their future aspirations. Finally, students need to know that education is the most valuable source that mankind can have. It’s just a matter of time before society’s consciousness awakens with the quality that society is asking for and a complete educational progress is achieved.

 

 

Word Count 970

Painting the world green

Painting is one of the many types of arts that are used to express ones thoughts and emotions, but not only that, it is fun. On May 3, 2012 a group of student did an activity base on that, where they put many art supplies so that anyone that passed by and had the time could paint whatever they wanted. Most of the used items were recycled as for the activity also had the purpose of informing people about recycling by using recycled item for art.

The activity was held in the lobby of the Computer and Electric department, Stephanie. It was a project for the class Appropriate Technology, INTD 5095; where 7 members of this class created the event to promote art and recycling in the university. Although it was one event the group were divided in two, one focus on art and the other on recycling.

People gathered around and started painting whatever they wanted. They are enjoying themselves, just relaxing and taking their stress away.

The art side of the event had the intension of using art as a mean to relax people and help them prepare for the finals exams by taking their stress away. Francisco Birriel, One of the art group member mention “since art doesn’t have much promotion in the university it is also a great way to help maintain art in collage vivid and fresh”. There were two big tables filled with papers, brushes and paints; where anyone who wanted could just go, grab a brush and start painting whatever they wanted. All drawings, if the artist didn’t want to take them, were put on display for everyone who pass could see them.  After painting, Francisco talked to the artist about the benefits of art and how they help us on a daily basis; like how music influence in people’s concentration and how visual arts stimulates retention. A young woman, after finishing her painting mention that it was a great help due to she had to do a capstone project later that day, and how much it helped her relax and prepare for the work to come.

On the other side was a big table where the recycling group was located. The table had many crafts curious items made out of recycling materials. There were details on recycling bins with their location around the university; one of the recycled items where use as a brush for painting flower, where the bottom part of a plastic bottle was use for painting flower petals. One of the members of the group painted a tree using his fingers and the bottle, as an idea to use recycling materials for art. Although there were many crafts and ideas for art, the group was more focus on informing people about where recycling bins where located around the university and to encourage them to recycle more of them.

Members of the student association TACU (Taller Artistico Creativo Universitario) were part of the activity too. TACU is and association dedicated on anything that has to do with art in the university. TACU assisted the art and recycling group members by helping them organize, with art supplies and promotion. Some members of the TACU association also took the liberty to paint and interesting art piece. The painting was made by several TACU members, each one adding a detail however they saw fit, the end result was a picture a bit difficult to describe for its many unusual detail, but that is what made it so interesting. The figure appeared to be a female character, it had an elephant trunk with a human face, and elf ears, one of the legs seems to belong to an animal, possibly an elephant and the other appeared to be human. The reaction of people around was a bit mysterious as they didn’t know what to think about the painting. It was really well drawn and painted, with many sorts of little detail; one could easily realize the experience the artist had.

Members of the TACU association painting after finishing the sketch of their unique drawing. People gather around to witness them paint.

One of the difficulties the group has was the preparation for the music. The original plan was to have music on the background while people painted. As one of the member mention, what better way to relax and enjoy themself than painting and listening to music at the same time. But due to the lack of time and the multiples university works, the musicians couldn’t be contact in time, so they didn’t have the time to prepare.

The members of the Art and Recycling project mention some of their plan they have for the next semester. They mention how they intent to recreate the event at least once a month. Not only focusing on painting, but on other arts like music, and theater   as for a research the members realize, of all the type of art those were what most people were interested. They also mention how they plan to create a galley for unknown artist to display their works, and also to create an art base center where anyone could go and practice art whenever they want. They have many ideas for the many semesters to come.

The event was rather shot, but seeing as how so many people were enjoying themselves it could be called a big success. Francisco Birriel said “It was a good and educative experience because people learned about art and their many benefits, and seeing as how much fun they had, we can’t wait to see what the next one will be like”. This is only the beginning of the many activity the groups have planned.

D.O.M.

Dance On Movement also known as D.O.M., is a dance group made of RUM students.  They dedicate some hours daily to practice new techniques and routines. Most of the members from the group are females. Last Thursday, they made a performance on the universal hour at the Student Center.  For the first minutes they showed off their dance moves but on the last minutes of their presentation, they invite some people from the audience to participate and dance some different music genres.

“When you dance, it’s like you transfer to another place and are free of everything”. It’s nice to see that there remain young people who like to do socio-cultural stuff. To join D.O.M. you don’t need to be a good dancer. They invited us to join them and to continue making this dance crew grow.

Incognitus

Yesterday, February 29, 2012 Alpha Omicron Sigma Fraternity celebrates the neophytes show in Bleu, Mayaguez. The neophytes and members did some dances. This activity was very successful for the organization with the cooperation of the public, mainly composed of RUM students.

The ΑΟΣ Fraternity have some active chapters around Puerto Rico. The Fraternity exists from 1957. Each semester they made an initiation in that invite new candidates to can join them. For an unknown reason they decided to put together two chapters initiation in one, the Γ chapter from Mayaguez and the Ε chapter from San German.

The initiation of these two chapters started last Sunday. It supposed that it will end this Saturday. The neophyte show is a tradition of all fraternities and sororities; practically this show is the presentation of the candidates to the Greek family. The Alpha Omicron Sigma usually does its shows in Bleu Bar & Tapas in Mayaguez. It was full of Greek organizations, UPRM students and parents from the candidates. The organizations that said present in the show were, Sigma Delta Nu (ΣΔΝ), Mu Alpha Phi (ΜΑΙ), Rho Omicron Sigma (ΡΟΣ), Sigma Phi Chi (ΣΙΧ), Phi Zeta Chi (ΙΖΧ), Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΙΒ) , Zeta Phi Sigma (ΖΙΣ), Alpha Beta Chi (ΑΒΧ), Delta Phi Theta (ΔΙΘ) y Eta Phi Zeta (ΗΙΖ). Like a summary the candidates did three dances and one stripper to all the ladies that climbed onto stage. Gabriel Deliz, member and choreographer from the ΑΟΣ did a personal dance with collaboration of two girls from the Eta Phi Zeta (ΗΙΖ) sorority.  The show starts at 12:00 am and ends at 2:00am.

If you ask why the name is Incognitus, I will explain you the reason. Some night some integrants of the fraternity did a reunion and the principal idea was to do something like anonymous. This idea to presents them to the people like an unknown group or society was accepted for the integrants by votes. Automatically this idea won, they did the preparations like the dances, decoration and clothing for the show. An integrant from the fraternity called Bryan is their official dance choreographer and one week before the initiation he teaches the dances to the candidates. Cesar, the president and Edwin the secretary did the promotion of the show like, decoration, show invitation, flyers and tickets. The last step of the preparation of it was that Javier Roman had an idea and for the first time they want to do a short film. They did some recordings in different places of the RUM.

The show was one more successful for the fraternity; all people had a good time. The fraternity will do an initiation with show the next semester. All this was the activity of the last February 29, 2012. Expect for more future reports.

Our Roots in One Week

Last week, March 13 to 18, was celebrated the 35th “5 Dias Con Nuestra Tierra” fair at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. In this week, different artisans from different part of Puerto Rico come to Mayaguez and participate selling and showing all their ability. Also all the nights of this week, some artists do their performance. The third section of the carnival is composed by the animal´s exhibition and the last one section is the food and beverages area.

In March 13 was the first day of the “5 Dias Con Nuestra Tierra” fair and it was full of people. Most of the artisans were ready showing their arts but some tables were empty. Some of the crafts were natural candles, oils and soap, a lot of different hair trimmings for the woman, cups made by bamboo, leather bracelets and key chains , crystal figures and the important one, typical sweets of Puerto Rico. The next tent very close to the first were almost the same in this one some people sold self handed t-shirts and homemade cakes with different flavors. The third tent was the agricultural one because in this customers can find different fruit trees, beautiful plants, cactus, fruits and bonsai. At the final of the tent, two sellers had for sale animals, one sold fishes and aquarium utilities and the other sold ducks, rabbits, hamsters and chickens. To finish the tent area, the last one was composed by the animal exhibition. Some rare animals were exhibited like the Arabian horse and the appaloosa horse that it is hard to find. The remains animals are very common like pigs, goats, cows, donkey and sheep. Really all this thing were showed and sold in the tents.

At the nights also the tents, the performances of the artists were the principal attraction. Each night had a theme and name. For example the first night was the Opening Night, the second night named as Student Night in that some talented students from the RUM show their talent. Collegiate Night, the third one in which some graduated students with their band do their performance and the most important of this night was “El Guitarreño” show. The performers of the two last nights were none related with the RUM, Tropical Night and “Mayaguezana” Night

Daily, students from different ages and schools visit the fair. “5 Dias Con Nuestra Tierra” is a good way to learn a lot of things about crops, animals and art of the artisans. Also all the nights some families bring their kids to have the experience if the school don’t made a trip to the fair. Is not fully related with the fair, but this time the association in charge of the earthquakes put there a simulator and gave to all a conference to take caution.

Some RUM students were interviewed to know what they thinks about the fair, if their like it o not. Keishla Pagan Muñoz, a student from the RUM were interviewed and she answer that until she enter to the RUM each year she pass almost all the five days of the fair except Friday and Saturday because she leave to her house at Trujillo Alto.  Lizmarily Cirilo was the other interviewed student and she answered that until she was admitted in the RUM she works in the fair during the five days.

The fair is a good one; a lot of people outside from Mayaguez came to the campus to enjoy it. Each event is different, never repeat anything. All people expect that this fair continue year by year because people enjoy it a lot.

Geeks walking & running for a good cause

The “Relevo por la Vida” is an event that the American Society of Cancer realizes each year. It is celebrated in almost all the municipalities of Puerto Rico the same and different days. This activity has the purpose of change some life’s and makes people reflect. This event permits the people celebrates that survive to the disease, to give hopes to the people that is passing through it and to remember the deceased loved. This activity is celebrated once a year and all the funds collected are donated to the American Society of Cancer.

During all year, the media creates advertising inviting everyone to participate. In some places, they remain the whole year selling useful items for house use like pro-found for the activity. Each participant group or association is requiring reaching a quantity of money that the organizers of “Relevo por la Vida” assign. A lot of families, stores and organizations accept the challenge of collect the money for the activity and start to sell things and do other pro-found activities. All the participants have to sell mandatorily like minimum five to ten “Relevo por la Vida” t-shirts and 5 luminaries.

All of the participants, the approach was in the geek organizations known as fraternities and sororities. They put all together, organized meeting and each organization did a pro-found activity. Some of the participant organizations were Phi Zeta Chi (ΦΖΧ), Zeta Phi Sigma (ZFS), Sigma Delta Nu (ΣΔΝ), Alpha Omicron Sigma (ΑΟΣ), Rho Omicron Sigma (ΡΟΣ), Sigma Phi Chi (ΣΦΧ), Alpha Beta Chi (ΑΒΧ) and Rho Omicron Rho (ΡΟΡ). Until February they began to meet in the Recinto Universitario de Mayaguez (RUM) to create ideas and organize each one select a pro-found activity. Some of the activities were the Sigma Delta Nu made a car wash in Advance Auto Parts at University Plaza, the Rho Omicron Rho made a Poker Night tournament, Phi Zeta Chi organize a tournament of dominoes, Sigma Phi Chi a espuma party and others activities. Some integers from the organizations were interviewed starting with Cristina Nicole from Sigma Delta Nu sorority and she told me that the car wash was a success, a lot of people participate and some ones gave extra money of the total cost of the wash.  The domino/pool and poker tournament was good too; they had excellent earnings of it. The Sigma Phi Chi’s espuma party wasn’t as they expect it, probably because it was on Sunday.

The day before the activity, they all meet to count all the money collected. They had reached the goal. “Relevo por la Vida” was celebrated on April 28, 2012. All the organizations got together again and prepare a tent with decoration and posters with the different acronym of each organization. In total, 42 people were present but over 100 cooperate buying the t-shirt of the activity. All the presents walk some minutes in the track.

“We work hard trying to collect all the money for the goal established. Our fraternity went two days to the semaphores front of the RUM to sell water and with label containers obtained part of the money”. – Pedro Buduen (ΑΟΣ Member)

“I and the girls did some sales of donuts and sandwiches to get the money. Also we made a raffle of drinks and a DVD for the same purpose”. – Rocío Cardona (ΖΦΣ President)

The activity was very successful for the entire like a group. The last day, the people in charge of the activity counts all the donations give some prizes. The geek group won the third place, bronze. The total donation of them were $2,912, it was awesome. Almost pass the goal that was $3,000. “We all together pass good times, no matter the organization that you are, join us for a good cause”.

Mechanics for life

 

It is a good feeling when you can collaborate for a good cause, knowing that little the help that you give can mean so much to another people. There are many activities for good causes but there is one very important here in the island, called American Cancer Society Relay for Life Event. This activity is celebrated throughout many cities on Puerto Rico and the United States, and also it was celebrated here at the Colegio on April 28 and 29.

The main point is to celebrate the people who have battled cancer, remember those who fought, and those loved ones lost, and to demonstrate the fight against the cancer. In this activity many groups or teams participate, and they are asked to have a representation on the field walking or running during the whole length of the event. This fundraiser acticity has a length of 24 hours.

There are some special traditions and moments on this event that really impact those who participated. One of them is called the survivors lap in which all the people is called to a circle on the track to celebrate the victories of those who had fought the disease and the goals reached to beat cancer.

In this day there is a very emotional lap called The Luminaria Ceremony, in which candles are lit to honor those who have been touched by cancer and remember the loved ones that were lost in this battle. The Fight Back ceremony is the one where people usually make personal commitments to be part of the fight against cancer and to help those who need it. As it is stated on their slogan “Lets create a world with more birthdays.”

This year Relay for Life was celebrated on the track of the University of Puerto Rico on Mayaguez, many groups participated for this awesome cause, that is mainly focused on those patients that have cancer, those who are fighting and those we honor to remember.  On the diverse group there was a group from mechanical engineering that they where also collaborating and helping during this weekend. Part of this group is the organization American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

They had a goal, which “Thanks to God we did not only reached it we passed it thanks to the effort and sacrifice the organization made to be part of this awesome cause” said Felix Bello a student from mechanical engineering, and also the ASME member that was in charge of organizing the team that represented ASME and the mechanical engineering students.

“This activity was divided on groups and specifically there was an estimated of 30 students on the booth of mechanical engineering replied Felix. “The activity was very crowded, the people were very motivated and we passed a good time,” replied Felix. There were approximately 300 people on this day, stated the members of ASME that participated.

The different organization that participated for this cause made their different activities to obtain the monetary donations they were giving to those who needed it most. Specifically ASME, they made different activities which included hot dog sales, sandwich sales, they made different seminars, some of those related to design programs used on mechanical engineering, and some for professional development fo a future engineers and professionals.

The celebration was varied because Mechanical Engineering was also celebrating their 100th year of education on the Mayaguez Campus on the University of Puerto Rico. This year ASME made different activities due to the celebration and one that cannot be unmentioned was the yearly ceremony called “Tuerca Awards” which is a co fraternization activity between many organization of Mechanical Engineering and the awards presented in a funny way to many students chosen by their unique characteristics.

 

The Athletic Track in the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus, where this year Relay for Life. As the sun is about to shine, lets there be more birthdays to celebrate.

 

Felix Bello and a group of some members of ASME that participated on the fundraiser activity. Serving to help other and expecting none from those they help.

 

Cooling Station

May 10, 2012

Cooling Station

Javish Rodriguez Rivera

Travel

Off the shores of the tropical caribbean island of Puerto Rico, there is a place that transports you to the heart of a tropical rain forest. In here you will find a variety of plants and different animal sounds that makes anyone’s day, a magnificent one.

Gozalandia (Joy Land) is located in the city of San Sebastian. This city is in the west central region of Puerto Rico. The location of the city invites you to relax and admire the beauty that nature has to offer.

Getting to Gozalandia is actually quite easy, now getting to the different part of the area is another story. Especially if you are in a group and plan to spend the day here. Which means that you have to make a bag with cloths, food and beverages.

Once everybody is geared up and found a parking space, which are limited, the journey to one of nature’s best beauty begins. First the path to reach, a structure that is not in use, is made of concrete that has hills and slops. When walking through the path, an rich dense tropical forest scenery can be admired with trees that where blooming with red flowers.

When we reached the area that the structure was, it looked like an area that they started constructing but had stopped some time for now. At this point the concrete path finished and luckily for us we were with Wilmer Santiago Mercado a local resident of the area. He told us that that is many paths to get to the river depending which part we wanted to be, because there is an area that there is a big and small waterfall.

We choose to visit the small waterfall first and Wilmer lead the way. Our journey to the small waterfall was quite adventures, we had a cooler with drinks and food so we took turns while reaching our destination. The only difference from this path is that there was no concrete just nature.

As we walked we could see different plants like the palm trees and a variety of ferns, the most curious one was the fern that had pink and violet leafs. After a 12 minute walk we could hear the sound of the river. That last part of the path was a tricky one, so we supported ourselves with the branches and trunks of the trees and made it.

It was stunning, the area felt like a personal cove full of trees. One of the trees had a rope, which people used to dive. The water was crystal clear and felt very cold.

The walk was worth it. Wilmer said “This is way I love this part of the island, you can experience new things, relax and admire nature’s beauty”. People and tourist come from different parts to experience this place of the island.

As we stayed in the small waterfall area we could see tourist from Europe and United States of America taking picture of the area. Some of them came prepare to take a splash in the refreshing water other were just taking a hike through the area.

We packed our things and started our journey to move to the big waterfall. We started walking our way back and as we got near it happened as the same as walking to the small waterfall. The last part of the path was a tricky one.

When we got there it felt like being in your own unspoiled paradise. The diferrence with the small waterfall was that the big waterfall was open it didn’t had that cove feeling. The water was the same, but this area had long plane area of the river.

The plane area was exciting because you can fell the speed as the water flows. It looked like a big cemented path of river rock, wearing water shoes that are slipping resistance is a plus in this part.

At the area of the waterfall people that are adventurous could see a mini cave. The adventurous part is that to see it you have to hold your breath and swim under the rocks. Javier Rivera a resident of the city of Carolina said “That the cave is small but it is actually mini replica of a big cave.”

Gozalandia is a place where one can relax or have an adventure with nature. Javier Torres said “This is one of my best experiences of my life; I never thought that places like this existed in Puerto Rico. I would recommend any person to come here.”

If you are planning to come and spend a day at Gozalandia some of the things you might want to have are water shoes for the slippery river rocks and a light bag with some food and beverages.

The plane area of the river on the big waterfall area. It is made of river rock cemented together.

The big waterfall area. On the left is Wilmer Santiago explaining that under the rocks on the left is a mini cave.

The small waterfall area. People like to climb through the rock and then take a dive.

People like to use the rope on the tree and take a dive in the river.

A Gaming Community

By: Edna I. Cruz Reyes

May 3, 2012

An 8-year old boy watches intently while his uncle plays a video game called Final Fantasy III. When his uncle leaves the room he starts playing, amazed by what he sees, but confused because he does not understand English. When his uncle returned, the boy told him that he could not understand the game, and in reply he just searched for a big dictionary (yeah the ones that look like a Bible), and handed it to the little boy. In frustration, the boy left, only to return a week later determined that he was going to play the game. So he used the aforementioned dictionary, and two weeks later he completed the game.

This is how Jay Paul Torres, creator and administrator of the virtual community Mind4Games and a gamer at heart, started to grow up in the in world of gaming where many people around the world are immersed today thanks to the advancements in technology. From casual and social games to shooting and fighting tournaments, the gaming industry has captured audiences from all ages.

It all started 45 years ago, when German-born American inventor Ralph H. Baer invented and played the first video game console designed  for standard television. The Brown Box, invented in 1967, became the prototype for Magnavox’s Odyssey which revolutionized video games and made possible future developments such as the ones we see today. “The Father of Video Games,” as he is also known, was awarded the National Medal of Technology by Former President George W. Bush in 2006.

Thanks to Bauer, the expanding market of video games has reached a peak in the last decade, where millions of people can play in their home or on the go, through the use of mobile technology. But as Jay Paul states, “Before, the concept of gaming was about playing, today the gaming world has evolved into a growing market of micro-transactions through games.” Most of these micro-transactions take place in mobile application markets and in Facebook mini-games where the player usually pays an extra fee in exchange for a better game experience.

The video game industry caters to different gaming styles and preferences. From different gaming platforms and mobile devices to PC games the array of game choices can be overwhelming. Among the most popular game genres are:

  • Adventure games – One of the biggest hits in this genre is Tomb Raider.
  • Fighting games – Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Soul Calibur, and Marvel vs. Capcom are among the most popular choices in the market.
  • First-person Shooters – Doom was the game that pioneered this genre.
  • Educational games – Gaes like Putt Putt and Dora offer young children a good educational experience through games.
  • Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) – Everquest was one of the pioneers in the online gaming industry, where players around the world role-

    World of Warcraft is one of the most popular Massive Online Multiplayer game. Many suscribers from around the world gather and face together the game’s many challenges. (In-game screenshot taken by: Edna I. Cruz)

    played online with their characters and teamed up to do quests or massive raids.

  • Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMO) – Follows the concept of an MMORPG, but character development is the main focus and not the story itself.
  • Mini games – Mario Party and Plant vs. Zombies have mini-games within the normal game.
  • Platforming games – The most popular example of this type of games are the super Mario series.
  • Puzzle games – The classic example of this genre is Tetris.
  • Racing games – Gran Turismo offers the most realistic gaming experience so far.
  • Real-Time Strategy (RTS) – Command and Conquer, Starcraft, and Warcraft are amongst the most popular games in this genre.
  • Rhythm action games – Gamers can dance the night away by playing Dance Dance Revolution, or they can simply play rockstar in Guitar Hero.
  • Self improvement games – Brain Training by Nintendo can give your brain a challenge.
  • Simulation games – EA’s franchises Sim City and The Sims lead the market in simulation games. Another popular simulation is Microsoft’s Flight Simulator which is used as real flight time simulation in aviation schools.
  • Shooting games – Time Crisis and Counter Strike provide a stress relieving shooting experience.
  • Sporting games – For a sporting experience with your favorite sport and athletes try Pro Evolution Soccer, or Wii Sports.

The list could go on forever, and with such a wide market and media glut comes the challenge of how to reunite a big community. This is why Jay Paul came up with the concept of Mind4Games, a virtual gaming community where gamers could share ideas, opinions and debate on games in general. As he states, “Every day there’s a new gamer, and sometimes they seek a friendly community for reviews, help, or simply just to chat on anything new related to their gaming interest.”

As a main interest, Jay Paul likes to go into the psychology behind game development and understand what really goes on behind the curtains. As a parent, he encourages

Jay Paul Torres Bandas, the creator of the virtual community Mind4Games. In his project he seeks to reunite gamers virtually and have them share reviews, opinions, ideas, etc.

children to play with parental supervision because many games stimulate the sense of logic and skills (such as math, cooperation and teamwork). “If get involved and teach their children how to play in a wise manner, games can be a very useful educational tool. In fact it has been proven that gaming kids tend to be more intelligent than non-gaming ones.”

So the next time you laugh when you see a parent jumping with the remote control in hand as the Mario cartoon jumps in screen, remember that it is important that parents also get involved in their children’s gaming choices to aid in their future development.

Esta Vida Boricua: A life narrative installation

By Emmanuel A. Colón Toledo

May 3, 2012

Format: Bright

“You cannot step into the same river twice” said Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of the sixth century BC. He meant that because the river is flowing, it’s constantly changing and the water has changed or moved on. These words also apply to us, our lives and our surroundings.

Puerto Rico today has drastically changed from what it was 50 or 100 years ago and we don’t get to see it very often. “Esta vida Boricua” (EVB) is a project dedicated to such a task. “It all started three years ago…” said Professor Mongar, from UPRM (University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez) and the mind behind EVB. Originally, Sonja Mongar had thought of writing a book funded by the Sea Grant program at the university. However she didn’t get enough funds to write her whole book and so she turned to the idea of a website.

Logo for “Esta Vida Boricua”. The logo looks old as if it stood the test of time. It represents the survivability of the stories told on the website.

For the spring semester of the 2011-2012 school year Prof. Mongar offered an internship to her students, where they learned how to design a website, and all the steps of web publication from writing to editing and even curating galleries. As a result the website will hopefully be up and running for publication by May 16th, 2012.

“It’s subjective personal History, it’s the stories told through the pen of young people who have gone to their grandparents and said, ‘Tell me about this’; ‘Tell me what it was like in the war’; ‘How did you and grandma fall in love’; ‘What was it like to live in Puerto Rico 50 years ago’; it’s the stories that so far haven’t been told” said Prof. Mongar about the website.

Today students in Professor Mongar’s classes have a much better grasp of the English language but they don’t know as much about their culture as other students did ten years ago. A culture clash is evident and the site aims to bring a broader image of Puerto Rico, stretched out through time, to those who don’t have access or don’t know about it, and compare it with the Puerto Rico they know. “Ten years ago students were so much more aware of traditional Puerto Rican aspects like Décimas and other entities of our culture” said Mongar.

A preview of the Home Page. Just like an actor’s point of view left and right become inverted as if we were looking towards the stage while the site looks at the audience.

This life narrative installation will serve as a bridge between a Puerto Rico 50 years ago and the Puerto Rico we live in now. The project has been built with the help of interns like Joel Rodriguez Rivera and Alejandra Rentas Mojica, in charge of copy-editing and curating the works submitted to the gallery, as well as many others. Some interns like Mara M. Delgado where in charge of collecting stories from students enrolled in Prof. Mongar’s class who went to their families and asked what Puerto Rico was like when they were our young.

The site is designed like a theatrical stage; you have Stage right, Center Stage and Stage left. Each section includes a different type of media, from written word to audio and visual interviews and shorts of the past.

Stage right has audiovisual interviews focusing on Black Friday. Prof. Mongar has noticed that Puerto Ricans are rapidly integrating more and more customs from the US and asked her students to tell their own experiences as well as those of friends and family member who participated in the Black Friday sales events around the island.

Center Stage is the creative non-fiction section where students and members of the community will publish stories and memoir type writings from our past, as told by those close to them, like family members, friends and neighbors. Stage Left is the artists’ corner, exhibiting all kinds of Puerto Rican artists, ranging from musicians to sketch artists, photographers, poets and more. Some are students some are teachers, some are painters others writers, some take pictures others play music and tell stories but they all share a passion for what they do and are sharing it on this website as a reminder that Puerto Rico is so much more than meets the eye.

Mara M. Delgado, one of EVB project’s interns gathering the auto topographies, stories from the past told by those who were there, tells us one story about this girl who was out playing with her sister and a few bullies started throwing rocks at them. She picked up her sister after a rock hit her and they ran home, but she didn’t tell her parents because she didn’t want to get in trouble, and her sister seemed fine. The next day her sister didn’t wake up and this girl was never forgiven by her father. “It’s stories like this one I find highly important, that need to be shared with the world” said Mara.

“People need to see this side of Puerto Rico… They need to know that San Juan is just a part of the island. Puerto Rico has so much more to offer, and the true wonders of the island are often forgotten or unseen” said Alejandro Orengo, another student involved in a video project to promote and document what EVB represents and aims to achieve.

The real Puerto Rico lies in the people that live here, in the forests and mountains, deserts and rivers, it lies in who we are and how we live, and what we do with our lives. Most people in the island travel around the world to see things they can drive a mere 3 hours to see, right here on the island.

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