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Inside CSULB
Vol 57 No. 17 : October, 2005
Vol 57 No. 17 | Oct. 3, 2005

Professor Leads Students on “Phenomenal” Trip

Armando Vazquez-Ramos

Armando Vazquez-Ramos, a Long Beach resident since he first attended CSULB as an EOP student in 1968 and a co-founder of the Chicano and Latino Studies Department, led 13 CSULB students to Mexico and Venezuela in July to attend the Tlahuica Center for Language and Cultural Exchange (CETLALIC) and the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas, Venezuela.

“The trip was phenomenal. The excursions and activities we had in two weeks of travel and study in Mexico were replete with new findings and experiences that were very enriching to both students and myself. The 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas, Venezuela, was outstanding. CSULB was a microcosm of the young people who were part of the 17,000 participants from 144 countries and all the continents on Earth,” said Vazquez-Ramos, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSULB in Chicano Studies and Psychology, respectively. “This is only the most recent in a series of visits by our students to CETLALIC.”

CETLALIC was founded in 1987 as an alternative school, integrating intensive study of the Spanish language with experiential cultural learning and analysis of contemporary issues. Students study Spanish while expanding their knowledge of the region’s cultural, socio-economic, and political realities, making connections between the U.S. and Mexico today. It is a language school, one of several in Cuernavaca that offer unique and progressive language acquisition programs that incorporate into the study of Spanish and Mexican culture various social and political themes including the social reform movement, the role of women in Mexico and special programs such as one that focuses on the Mexican educational system and other issues such as labor, health care and the Zapatista Movement.

The California-Mexico Project is coordinated by Vazquez-Ramos and this summer’s travel-study class ran from July 21 to Aug. 7 at the CETLALIC Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico. It featured 50 hours of intensive Spanish and Mexican culture instruction, afternoon lectures, cultural and archaeological excursions as well as visits to universities and schools. Vazquez-Ramos hoped the visit exposed the students to the lifestyle, educational system and pedagogy in Mexico while enhancing Spanish language skills.

“The primary goal of the course is to compare and connect theory and practice and for the student to develop a critical understanding of how history, culture, politics and economics are factored into education,” he said.

After the two-week study in Cuernavaca, Vazquez-Ramos led the students as part of the Mexican delegation to the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students-Venezuela from Aug. 7-15, joining students from all over the world in Caracas for a week of study, sports and fun. Activities included visits around Venezuela to learn about social and economic reform programs, art exhibitions, theater performances, cultural events and concerts, an international Hip Hop Summit, various workshops and intramural sports.

“In their first-ever trip to the festival, our students had the chance to do everything from talking to a delegation of Iraqi students, discussing social reforms with Venezuelans and sharing strategies with Indian trade unionists to reviewing the effects of NAFTA with Mexican and Canadian students and exchanging health care ideas with young South Africans,” said Vazquez-Ramos.

The festival gave CSULB students the chance to meet other students like themselves who will be the future’s professionals and leaders.

“It enhanced the scope of their thinking and ideas,” said Vazquez-Ramos. “Students are required to submit a term paper that reflects the complexity of their experience, the language skills they acquired and the understanding of culture, society and politics they gained in Mexico and Venezuela.”

In its fifth year of operation at CSULB, the California-Mexico Project is largely supported by private donations, funds generated through the annual Latino Political Roast Banquet organized by Vazquez-Ramos, and university funding from the International Education Committee and Instruction Related Activity fund.
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