Thursday, June 21 6-8pm
Latino & Black Alumni Happy Hour in New York!
Celebrate the start of summer at this first-time mixer New York City!
Expand your network, meet up with friends, and donít forget to raise a toast.
Location TBA - details to come.
Carrying the ALA Flag at Commencement
Commencement Day morning is usually packed with a myriad of emotions. We are all clamoring to get ready, meet up with friends, and accommodate family, so caught up in the moment that we barely have time to eat. We line up with our friends, parade down Locust Walk and find ourselves seated on Franklin Field long before we can even catch our breath and realize what’s happening. At least that’s the way it was for me when I graduated in 2008.
For the past two Mays, I’ve experienced Commencement from a completely different viewpoint: as a graduate, a proud University supporter, and more importantly, as the Association of Latino Alumni flag bearer. If you don’t know what I mean or what it entails because you experienced graduation the way I did my first time around, here is the play by play:
At around 8:00 a.m. I join all of the alumni who have graciously accepted the charge of carrying a flag –representing either their class year or their respective Diversity Alliance group– in the Annenberg Center. We enjoy a continental breakfast as we put on our caps and gowns and struggle with pinning our hoods. We watch as the distinguished faculty of Penn trickle in. We all await the arrival of president Amy Gutmann, the Commencement speaker, and the honorary degree recipients. We all file out of the Annenberg Center to line up on Locust Walk. The Diversity Alliance groups conveniently end up around 36th St., very close to the ARCH Building that houses our beloved cultural centers.
Then the waiting continues! As we anxiously anticipate the start of the procession, we all laugh about our dueling flagpoles, how hot we feel and how hungry we are. I get lost in the sensation of my stomach eating away at itself. Suddenly, our conversations are halted by the sound of the Penn band rapidly approaching. The sidelines of Locust Walk become alive with flags flapping high and incredible elation. Alumni cheer on the graduates as they proceed down Locust Walk towards Franklin Field. The graduates in turn scream and shout at all of the familiar faces along the way, including my face. I was blessed to know several of the students during their four years at Penn, so I got more and more excited and filled with emotion as they marched past me.
As the sweat beads trickle down our faces, our arms grow weary, and our legs restless, we become amazed at how many graduates there are. There is a huge sigh of relief as the last group makes their way down and the alumni procession follows them. The faculty claps for us as we make our way to Franklin Field. President Gutmann waves hello and to her right is Denzel Washington, the 2011 Commencement speaker, who also waves as we pass. My heart smiles and I get more excited as we get close to the field. The true moment of glory comes as we walk onto the turf with the families looking on from the stands and the graduates from the south end of the field. We carry our flags with pride along both sides of the field and proceed through the center to our front-row seats. The flags are taken from us and we just sit back, relax, and revel in the excitement! It is an awesome experience and I invite you all to come back and do it at least once. I’ve done it twice and would gladly do it again!
–Jasmine Pérez NU '08, GNU '10
ALA and ANA Make History: A Reflection
It started innocently, with a conversation with Cecilia Ramírez C ’05, SP2 ’10, who besides being Assistant Director at Multicultural Outreach is a board member of the Association of Latino Alumni. We were discussing Alumni Weekend 2011, and I said something like, “If we want to have someone like that, we should bring in Andrea Carmen.” And Cecilia answered, “Give her a call.” I did. Andrea answered the phone, I reminded her who I was and she said she could speak at our event in May. It was all so fast. I’d mentioned having programs on indigenous issues at Penn before, but that was as far as it had gone. Several years ago Dr. Richard Leventhal HOM ’04, professor of Anthropology and Director of the Penn Heritage Cultural Center at the Penn Museum, held a conference for indigenous peoples from Alaska, Canada, Central and South America. Members of this group had kept in touch with each other by email, but follow-up reunions fell victim to the economy.
So Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council and the first indigenous woman Rapporteur for an United Nations Expert Seminar, was coming to Penn to speak about the possibility for partnership and respectful relations between indigenous and dominant cultures, and now we had to determine who on campus would be interested. Indigenous peoples live in countries around the world, but issues are critical in the Western Hemisphere as well, where you still have Amazonian tribes who live in nearly complete isolation from civilization. At that point I thought, “We have to invite ALA.” So we contacted its president, Clemson Smith Muñiz C ’79, and it was decided. We would cosponsor the event. I was surprised to learn that having two alumni groups collaborate was rare. We then contacted several campus organizations for help in sponsoring her visit to campus and received funding from alumni, Greenfield Intercultural Center, Women’s Studies at Penn, Penn Center for Native American Studies, Penn Anthropology, and Dubois College House.
Why was it important to have Andrea, member of the Yaqui Indian Nation, speak to us at Penn? To find out, 40 persons, both Latino and Native, attended the session at Houston Hall that we titled: “Assimilation After Colonization: Is it possible?” Growing up in the United States, most of us even now have a very limited understanding of history and its peoples. I probably had better public schools than many for my time, but I don’t remember learning much at all about Indians of the Americas –and that was in Oklahoma! Had we studied Indians in classes, I would have remembered since from my earliest memories I’ve known I was Lenape and Cherokee. My family had taught me to be proud of my heritage.
On a teaching fellowship in Taiwan after college I remember seeing an aboriginal boy while visiting Taipei and being told that there were three main groups in Taiwan: aboriginal, Taiwanese and “mainlanders,” and that none of them liked each other. The next time I began focusing on indigenous peoples beyond the Americas was in 1990 when I was in Russia just as the Soviet Union was unraveling. The “northern peoples” were invited to a conference where I was speaking and I heard story after story that sounded just like the experiences of American Indians in the U.S. and Canada: children were forced to leave their parents for boarding schools where they were not allowed to use their languages or customs and were only allowed to see their families briefly once a year. Their treatment was mostly abusive. As someone who had lived most of her life as student and teacher on some of the best college campuses in the U.S., I wondered why so few seemed to know these things. I would learn that the world's estimated 300 million indigenous peoples are part of some 500 groups spread across the world in more than 70 countries (http://www.ciesin.org/docs/010-000a/Year_Worlds_Indig.html).
For the United Nations at least, this was changing. The UN General Assembly declared 1993 to be the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People with a stated goal of strengthening international cooperation in the solving of problems faced by indigenous communities: human rights, the environment, development, education, and health. The “Year” was later extended to the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples.
In Tulsa, I had several Indian colleagues who were active internationally and it was decided that we would have a committee to celebrate, and educate about, the Decade and the peoples. I became chairperson for the committee and began to hear about Andrea, the International Indian Treaty Council and the decades of work that had gone into the recognition of indigenous peoples by the UN. Over the Decade we brought in people to speak from Canada, Central and South America, as well as the U.S. We focused on issues of language, culture, sacred sites, and environment. Finally, at the end of the Decade, Andrea spoke at our event held at the University of Tulsa. We met the force, the person, who inspired so many to work with her year after year in New York City and Geneva to accomplish the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly, September, 2007 and finally signed by President Obama just this past December, 2010 (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html).
It is not only for the sake of the indigenous that we learn more about the past and present. Ignorance about the history of colonization and conquest leaves a world fighting battles between countries merged by colonial powers into artificial groups and boundaries that ignore the histories of the peoples involved. We expect to manage a global marketplace, wage wars and forge democracies between peoples of different histories, cultures and religions, with peoples who are not represented by their colonized nation states –and then wonder what has gone wrong. For Penn, our alma mater, an university that prides itself on its international focus, such knowledge is a necessary requirement.
– Dr. Ann N. Dapice NU ’74, GR ’80
President, Association of Native Alumni
Passing the Baton: An Annual Penn Relays Event
Saturday April 30, 2011
The Black Alumni Society and the Association of Latino Alumni
cordially invite you to join us for brunch, networking, and more! Space is Limited! Register today!
Passing the Baton Brunch
10:00 a.m. 12:00 noon
Sweeten Alumni House
3533 Locust Walk
Mix, mingle and network over a delicious, filling brunch before spending the day at the Penn Relays. Register by April 18.
The Penn Relays
11:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
233 South 33rd Street
Enjoy the Penn Relays in a block of seats with fellow alumni! Reserve your spot today!
Assimilation after Colonization?
ALA and ANA join forces to tackle a tough issue this Alumni Weekend
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:00 pm
Date: May 14, 2011
Location: Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce Street Philadelphia, PA 19104
*Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided.
We are proud to announce that the Association of Latino Alumni will be partnering with the Association of Native Alumni during Alumni Weekend in May to host a discussion about the relationships between dominant culture and Indigenous Latino and Native American peoples. This program will be led by guest speaker, Andrea Carmen, the global representative for indigenous communities and the Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC.)
Ms. Carmen has worked extensively with Indigenous communities from North, Central, South America and the Pacific. She was a founding member of the Indigenous Initiative for Peace with Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, and has participated as a human rights observer and mediator in crises situations in the US, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand and Ecuador. Ms. Carmen has also worked with the United Nations addressing human rights and Indigenous Peoples.
Join us to discuss whether assimilation is even possible for Latin Indigenous Peoples south of the border. Register here for this dynamic event.
ALA Celebrates Penn Scholarship and Latino History with Private Tour of Nueva York 1613-1945
For the first time in several years, ALA held an event in New York City, a docent-led tour of the acclaimed exhibition "Nueva York 1613-1945" at El Museo del Barrio that explored the city's long and deep involvement with Spain and Latin America. Starting with Jan Rodrigues, a mixed-race Spanish-speaking sailor from Santo Domingo and the first known non-native resident of Manhattan, the exhibition documented an impressive Latino legacy that has endured to the present and influenced virtually every aspect of New York's development, from commerce, manufacturing and transportation to communications, entertainment and the arts. ALA president Clemson Smith Muñiz C '79, the Spanish-language broadcaster for the Jets, Knicks and MLB Network, was featured in the exhibition's audio tour reminiscing about his childhood passion for baseball and the importance of Esteban Enrique Bellán, the first Latino to play professional baseball, and modern-day stars from Roberto Clemente to Sammy Sosa.
This event was special for several reasons. The exhibition came together thanks to an historic collaboration between El Museo, the city's leading Latino cultural institution, and the New-York Historical Society, New York's oldest museum and an organization headed by Dr. Louise Mirrer C' 73. And the event, which included two docents who guided guests during two hours, was made possible by the generosity of another Penn alumnae, Trustee Susan Danilow C '74.
Despite a snowstorm the day before, 35 alumni attended. Mirrer, who is president and CEO of the NYHS, stopped by at the beginning of the event to meet the guests and say some brief words. ALA, and its Board of Directors, thanks both Danilow and Mirrer for their guidance and support, and most of all, for encouraging an event that brought together Penn scholarship and Latino history.
– Clemson Smith Muñiz C '79
ALA South Florida Debut!
On November 17, 2010, the ALA South Florida chapter organized a dinner speaker series for Penn alumni and friends at an Argentine restaurant in Coral Gables, an evening of food, conversation and learning about the Earth's oceans.
Taking into account that Penn's theme for the current academic year revolves around water and all its manifestations, the South Florida chapter invited Dean C. Klevan Jr. W '70, WG '77, President and CEO of the International SeaKeepers Society, to be the honored speaker. SeaKeepers, a non-political and non-profit international organization founded in 1998 and based in Ft. Lauderdale, strives to provide accurate and current oceanographic and atmospheric information to government bodies with the purpose of protecting and preserving the marine environment.
Klevan spoke to 20 alumni and friends about the state of the world's oceans and how SeaKeepers sends real-time data to government bodies that may not have the resources to collect such detailed and precise information. Klevan explained how SeaKeepers partners with yacht owners across the world to install high-tech oceanographic devices that measure ocean temperatures and other data. Since yachts and yacht charters tend to travel to the same places every year, many of them exotic destinations where government oceanographers may not visit, the data from these vessels is uniquely important in helping to determine a thorough policy for protecting the oceans.
The data collected by SeaKeepers is shared with numerous government bodies, including the United Nations and various United States governmental agencies. Klevan's presentation was followed by a Q&A in which guests expressed their concerns about local marine life issues, including the BP oil spill, overfishing and recreational diving in South Florida. The evening was informative, insightful and above all, enjoyable for all. The ALA South Florida chapter's success with this dinner speaker series ensures that many more will follow in the coming year.
- Aileen Rodríguez