Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Papers" film screening at MTSU Wednesday night

An announcement from the Delta Iota Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. at MTSU:
Can you imagine graduating from high school with all of your friends, in a country that may be all you've ever known, only to realize that you do not have the same opportunities as your peers? You do not qualify for financial assistance to pursue that important college education that has been impressed upon you during your high school years, nor will you have an easy time trying to find a job to support yourself...all because of 'Papers'.

The Delta Iota Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.

 'Undocumented, uneducated?'

This educational program will focus on the challenges that many immigrant youth face as they graduate high school in the United States and face limited opportunities. Come learn more about the DREAM Act and watch a viewing of the documentary 'Papers'. 'Papers' is the story of undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 and graduate from high school without legal status. Be touched by real-life stories that will make you want to go out and advocate for change in your community and your nation!

We will begin at 7pm with a presentation on the DREAM Act by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, followed by the 88-minute feature of 'Papers'. A question/answer session will complete the evening. Come out ready to be educated and inspired!

Date: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Business and Aerospace (BAS) Building, State Farm Room (S102)
Middle Tennessee State University
City/Town: Murfreesboro, TN

Directions to MTSU Business and Aerospace Building (campus map: http://www.mtsu.edu/rootpage_files/MTSUCampusMap.pdf):

-from I-24 E take exit 80, New Salem Hwy
-make a left onto New Salem Hwy
-make a right onto Middle Tennessee Blvd
-after approx 3 miles you will approach campus
-drive straight past E Main street, campus will be on your right
-make a right onto Greenland Dr (past the Murphy Center, the tennis courts will be on your right and there will be a Shell gas station ahead on the corner)
-turn right onto Champion Dr
-at the stop sign make a left onto Blue Raider Dr
-at the next stop sign make a right onto Founders Lane
-at the end of this road you will be facing the North side of the Business and Aerospace Building. You can walk through the North side to the South side of the building. The State Farm room is S102.
-you may park in the lots surrounding the North side of the building OR you may make a left onto MTSU Blvd, enter the round-about and take the first exit onto Blue Raider Dr. At the stop sign turn right. The library will be the large building directly in front of you. You may also park in this area and walk toward the library. The back entrance of the south side of the BAS will be opposite the front entrance of the library.
-call 615-479-0259 with questions

Monday, March 29, 2010

Interview with Tera Vazquez: from Lima to Manhattanville College

Tera Vazquez

"I spoke no English...I spoke German at the time I arrived in the United States"

"My dream was to go back to Peru and run my father's company"

"Coming from the East Coast to Tennessee was a change"

Maria Teresa “Tera” Vazquez is the President of Nashville-based Guy Brown Products and also the Board President of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

I recently interviewed Tera, and in this the first segment of a multi-part interview, she talks about coming to the United States from Lima, Peru. The rest of the interview will be published in an upcoming post on HispanicNashville.com

You came from Lima, Peru to the U.S. as a college student. What motivated your decision to come to the U.S., and what led you to pick Manhattanville College?
The reason I came to the United States was, my father passed away when I was 17, and my mother always believed that education - and always told us that education - is freedom. So she wanted us to get a better education than the one we would be getting in Peru. So she sent myself and two of my sisters to Manhattanville College. And the reason we ended up in Manhattanville College is because one of her best friends lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, and they recommended that Manhattanville College was a very safe, private college with a good reputation, and we would be safe there. So that's the reason that we landed at Manhattanville College.

How hard was it to get into college from Peru and to get a student visa?
In those days, it wasn't too hard, because we hadn't had the terrorist attacks, so as long as you were financially solvent, the visas were not difficult to obtain at all, and we were fortunate that we had that solvency, so it was not difficult. It was difficult getting into the school, and translating the grades that we were getting, because our grades went from 11 to 20, so translating the grades into the American system was a little bit difficult, but we went through it.

You went on to American University for your MBA. Was that immediately following your bachelor's degree?
No, when I finished - when I graduated from college - with a B.A. in economics, my dream was to go back to Peru and run my father's company. But when I went to Peru and started working for the company, I realized that a bachelor's degree was not going to be enough, because it's still a man's world, and it used to be even a bigger man's world at the time. So I decided that I needed to get a higher degree of education in order for me to go back to Peru and run the company and be able to compete against men. So I worked in Peru at my father's company, which is called Pelikan Peru, for a year and a half and then I decided I needed to get a master's or higher education in order for me to be able to really compete against the males in Peru.

What was your impression of the United States after been in Manhattanville College and then later in D.C. at American?
I fell in love with the United States the minute I set foot in it. And I fell in love with the United States because it represented freedom to me - freedom to be whomever you want to be. If you work hard, you get somewhere; if you don't, you don't get anywhere. I come from a country where social classes were very strict, especially 30 years ago. There was almost no middle class, and there was no movement between the upper and lower classes. That always bothered me. When I first arrived to the States, I fell in love with the freedom of - everybody gets to wherever they need to get. You don't have to be born in the elite, and that's what I liked.

How did your adjustment go once you got here?
To Tennessee or the United States?

To the United States, it was tough at the beginning, because I spoke no English. I spoke German at the time I arrived in the United States, because I went to a private German school all my life in Peru. So I had to learn English during the summer session, and I learned enough English to be able to take college classes. So it was interesting. There's nothing like immersion; either you sink or swim. I came to college, spent the summer learning English and learned enough to go to college and loved it. It was really not a bad transition. Now coming from the East Coast to Tennessee was a change. When I arrived here, I was petrified about people talking to me on the phone, because I could not understand the people at the very beginning because of the accent. If you talked to me in person, I could understand perfectly, but over the phone, I was petrified. I could understand half of what people were saying - until my ear got adjusted to the accent, and people got adjusted to mine. It was an interesting period at the beginning.

Come back to HispanicNashville.com for the rest of the interview, to be published soon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Former ProEnglish spokesman supports Tennessee's written drivers license exams being given in other languages

No longer recognized as
ProEnglish's local spokesman
When asked if the State of Tennessee should eliminate the various translations of its written drivers license exam, a local councilman who was also the spokesman of ProEnglish's failed 2009 campaign in Nashville now says that Tennessee's translations are fine just the way they are:
I think the same model should be used here; test questions could be in Japanese for example, road signs and symbols in English, and the road test conducted in English. This balanced approach ensures people from other countries can drive safely on our roads, because they have a working knowledge of English and, at the same time, offers them a way to get a license that is not so difficult that it discourages them from even trying.
The system described above is in fact Tennessee's status quo, something ProEnglish is trying to change with its 2010 agenda.

It appears that this Virginia-based group is no longer recognizing the councilman as its local spokesman, having switched to the musician Eddie V. Garcia.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nashville Task Force on Refugees and Immigrants: March meeting agenda

Nashville Task Force on Refugees & Immigrants
March 2010 Meeting Agenda

The monthly meeting of the Nashville Task Force on Refugees and Immigrants will be held
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
at West End United Methodist Church
2200 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203, Room 318.
There is free parking.

Agenda for the Meeting:
(1) Connie Humphreys, Career Development Manager for Davidson County at the Nashville Career Advancement Center
(2) Marvin Cox, Director of Programs, Metropolitan Action Commission

There will be additional time for brief announcements.

For more information, speaker requests, or to be removed from this list, please contact Yvette Sebelist, Chair, at this e-mail address: ysebelist@visalaw.com

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mack talks to Tennesseans who would be affected by wine in grocery stores

Photo © HispanicNashville.com

Mack of Coyote Chronicles has done the nearly unprecedented, something few bloggers ever do: research.

He was contacted by Red White and Food to join today's social media blitz about the move to put wine in grocery stores in Tennessee. (Supposedly they're giving $100 away to the best of what's posted. Bloggers, check the new FTC guidelines - is a blog post written for a contest disclosure-worthy?)

So Mack interviewed at least one consumer, distributor, and one wine store owner, who is also the President of the Wholesale Wine and Spirit Association of Tennessee.

Check out his post.

My thought is that as long as the state is willing to even entertain arbitrary safeguarding of certain retail markets from the competition of the big-box corporate sellers, the liquor stores should join with the anti-WalMart crowd and start their own campaign to take beer, tobacco, lottery tickets, racy magazines, and other adult-age items out of the big boxes, too.

Many of the same arguments apply, right? What other arguments are there? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Bonnaroo gets Latino Alternativo tent

From Bonnaroo (H/T Dave Paulson):
Building on the success of last year’s hugely successful “Africa!” tent, Bonnaroo has joined forces with guest curators Tomas Cookman and Amy Blackman-Romero of Cookman International / Nacional Records, to create the “Latino Alternativo” tent at Bonnaroo. All day long on Saturday, this tent will feature some of the most exciting alternative acts in Latin music today, along with top DJs, cutting edge video and visual art and more.

Los Angeles-based Ozomatli will headline the tent and serve as guest MCs during the day. Also featured will be Los Amigos Invisibles (USA/Venezuela), the Nortec Collective present: Bostich + Fussible (Mexico), Aterciopelados (Colombia), Mexican Institute of Sound (Mexico), and Bomba Estereo (Colombia). DJs from each of the groups will perform between sets creating a seamless musical experience throughout the day.

There will be special food vendors and more.

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is a four-day, multi-stage camping festival held on a beautiful 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee every June, with this year's events to be held June 10-13.

Bonnaroo brings together some of the best performers in rock and roll, along with dozens of artists in complementary styles such as jazz, Americana, hip-hop, electronica, and just about any contemporary music you can think of. In addition to dozens of epic performances, the festival's 100-acre entertainment village buzzes around the clock with attractions and activities including a classic arcade, on-site cinema, silent disco, comedy club, theater performers, a beer festival, and a music technology village. For its peaceful vibe, near-flawless logistics, and unrivaled entertainment options, Rolling Stone magazine named this revolutionary entertainment experience one of the 50 moments that changed the history of rock and roll.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Diversity in Dialogue Discussion Group: Spring Series starts in April

Diversity in Dialogue
Discussion Group Spring Series Set

A six-week series developed by Scarritt-Bennett Center, Diversity in Dialogue (DID) Circles provide a forum for members of the community to share their feelings, opinions and thoughts on race relations, diversity and immigration in a non-defensive, non-critical environment. Led by trained facilitators, each "circle" can accommodate 8 to 12 individuals from diverse backgrounds. The goal is to help participants understand their own and other's views on these important issues.

Dialogues on Racism
Tuesdays: Apr. 6, 13, 20, 27; May 4, 11
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Dialogues on Immigration, in collaboration with Tennessee Foreign Language Institute and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
Mondays, Apr. 5, 12, 19, 26; May 3, 10
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Scarritt-Bennett Center
1008 19th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37212

DID Circles are open to individuals in the community at large. Participants must commit to all six sessions, as they are progressive in nature and build upon one another.

Registration Deadline is March 30

$25 fee for all six sessions. If needed, financial assistance is available. Deadline to register is March 30.  Pre-registration required. To register or for more information, contact Diana Holland, Dialogue Circle Coordinator, at dholland@scarrittbennett.org, or visit

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Call to Action on "English Only" from the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Dear TNHCC Members:

Last year Nashvillians confronted and defeated an unpleasant effort to make all Davidson County services be provided in "English Only." Nashville was viewed across the nation as an unwelcoming city for even considering such an action. In addition, this divisive effort cost residents nearly $300,000 to produce a vote in which this proposal was soundly defeated. We thought that vote sent a message loud and clear to the outsiders that we wanted no part of such a proposition.

Unfortunately this time these same outsiders have convinced some state legislators to sponsor a bill requiring that state driver's license exams should be given only in English. Many people come to the United States to make valuable temporary and permanent contributions to our economic development via talent or financial investment. It often takes a while to learn a language as complicated as English and although they may understand our traffic rules, they may test better in their own language.

On Tuesday, March 9, 2010, the Public Safety subcommittee of the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to pass the English-Only Driver License bill (HB0262 by Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland). Most on the subcommittee ignored strong opposition from Volkswagen, Nissan, Department of Safety, Economic Development, TIRRC and Tennessee residents. Sen. Dewayne Bunch, R-Cleveland will sponsor the senate version of the bill.

I am asking you join the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to take steps to defeat this misguided effort. Let's be strategic in our efforts. As business owners send letters to these legislators and indicate that highway safety is not a function of English only.

As a tourist, how often do we rent cars in a foreign country without comprehension of that language? Ask why should Tennessee once again suffer national embarrassment as an unwelcoming state?

Please take the time to express your dissatisfaction with this proposed legislation.

TN House and Senate Transportation Committee Members:

Maria Teresa "Tera" Vazquez
TNHCC Board President

UPDATE MARCH 23: Bill passes Senate Transportation Committee

The bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee on March 23, with an exception for certain people, according to the Times Free Press. H/T Post Politics.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chilean author/director Alberto Fuguet speaks about "Missing" book tonight at Fido and movie "Velodrome" Wednesday at Sarratt

Cindy McCain and Alberto Fuguet

Fuguet will also film movie about Nashville

Cindy McCain, Nashville Latin Dancing Examiner, interviewed Chilean author/director Alberto Fuguet about his two public appearances this week: at Fido tonight, and at Sarratt on Wednesday.

From McCain's article at Examiner.com:
This week Nashville can meet the author who banishes borders by shattering stereotypes, hear readings from his latest book, and see a screening of his movie, Velodrome. And one more thing…possibly appear in his new movie.

On March 22 Vanderbilt University's Center for Latin American Studies will host a public conversation and reception with Alberto Fuguet, at Fido in Hillsboro Village 1812 21st Ave. S. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Calling it “Translation in Progress,” Fuguet and his translator Ezra Fitz of Nashville will read from his newest book, Missing, in Spanish and English.
“Missing questions the idea that there’s a pot of gold here (in the US). While it might be true for some, my uncle would have been better off if he’d stayed in Chile."
Then on March 24 a screening of Fuguet’s movie, Velodrome, will be held at Sarratt Cinema, located on the first floor of the Sarratt Student Center at Vanderbilt University. The feature film is about a cycling competition in Chile and is made in the new style of garage cinema. Fuguet grinned as he called Wednesday’s event the “World Premier of a work in Progress.” Committed to making the movie on a small budget was challenging, but when his editor’s computer slid from the 4th floor to the 2nd in the recent earthquake, the subtitles were lost. Fuguet had to resynchronize them for the film which will premiere here Wednesday and officially open at the Argentina Film Festival later this year.

And then there’s the bilingual movie, Música Campesina to be filmed here in Nashville. Describing himself as a “Belcourt kind of filmmaker," Fuguet’s signature independence led to his making movies despite growing up in Pinochet’s Chile where film schools were nonexistent because of their “subversive” nature. Still loving a challenge, Fuguet bought into the vision of Edward “Ted” Fischer, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University: to write, cast, and film a movie by Fuguet’s return to Chile on April 5th Left with just over a month for the ambitious task (his arrival in the US delayed a week by the earthquake), Fuguet has thrown himself into the project full force.
“I wanted to write a movie about Nashville. I don’t write about what I don’t know, so it will be a ‘fish out of water’ story about a Chilean who comes to Nashville.” The character, driven by an interest in country music, will meet Nashville residents from various ethnic backgrounds. Other than the lead, a Chilean actor named Pablo Cerda, the rest of the cast will be chosen from locals.
For the whole story, and more about casting in the movie about Nashville, read the original story at Examiner.com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tennesseans in D.C. today as 100,000 march for action on immigration bureaucracy

Ten charter buses from across Volunteer State ask TN delegation, President to move forward

Follow up-to-the-minute updates on these live blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

On the heels of statements of support by the President and a column in the Washington Post by Senators Schumer and Graham, 500 Tennesseans are in Washington, D.C. today to join approximately 100,000 others in a rally for immigration reform, in what is being called the “March for America.” Frustrated with the inaction and inability of Congress to find a realistic solution to our broken immigration system, thousands of Americans will take the streets and call on the President and other elected officials to make good on their promise to put immigration reform on the agenda this year.

With healthcare finally coming to a close, Congress has a few months before the summer recess to prove to the American people that they can solve the tough problems facing our nation. As the only truly bi-partisan issue on the Congressional docket, there are many hopeful signs that immigration reform can be achieved this spring.

“If you remember in 2008, both Presidential candidates expressed strong support for comprehensive reform,” says Stephen Fotopulos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. “Immigration reform is one issue neither side of the aisle can afford to ignore, especially with the impact Latinos had in the last elections.”

Furthermore, immigrant advocates point to reform as a critical part of our nation’s economic recovery. A recent study by UCLA research Raul Hinjosa found that legalizing undocumented immigrants would contribute $1.5 trillion to the Gross Domestic Project over ten years, as more tax revenues are collected, wages increase for U.S.-born and foreign-born workers, and immigrants spend more in our economy.

“At a time of tight budgets and declining wages, why not generate billions in new tax revenue while stopping illegal exploitation by bad-actor employers who undercut honest business?” says Fotopulos. “Common sense, comprehensive immigration reform will help stabilize and strengthen the American economy.”

As the political and policy questions are answered, the momentum for reform grows nationally. Here in TN, advocates have been hard at work in their local communities throughout the state. Whereas organizers originally hoped to send 250 people from TN to the event, the excitement around the mobilization forced a change of plans; now, over 500 will represent Tennessee in the March for America. In the small town of Shelbyville, TN, community leaders have organized over 200 people to join the march, demonstrating that the impact of our broken immigration system reaches far beyond the big cities.

Jaime Gonzalez, a TIRRC volunteer from Shelbyville and a graduate student at Middle Tennessee State University, has seen the impact first hand:

“We are constantly receiving reports of honor students being told they cannot continue their higher education because they do not have a social security number,” says Gonzalez. “We have spoken to children who say they become worried when their parents are late coming home because they believe their mother or father have been detained by immigration authorities.”

“When the leaders of this nation wake up on that Sunday morning and see us there, tens of thousands of Americans, we will remind them that change takes courage. For we are sons, we are daughters, we are brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, we are students, we are teachers, we are engineers, we are builders, we are civilians, we are soldiers, we are dreamers, we are human, we are here; and, we are marching for America.”

(Read Gonzalez's full story here.)

Buses left from Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville throughout the day on Saturday, driving overnight, and arriving in Washington, D.C. on Sunday morning. Although the bus departures were closed to the press, video footage and pictures will be distributed upon request and multiple community spokespeople will be available for interview before, during, and after the March. There are a number of unique individual stories yet to be covered in the press. For more information, contact Elias Feghali at elias@tnimmigrant.org or 615-784-9745.

TIRRC has been posting up-to-the-minute updates on its live blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Amy Napier Viteri, Marcela Gomez, and Wendy Silva to teach better PR connections with Hispanic market at Tuesday lunch

Panelists Amy Napier Viteri, Marcela Gomez, and Wendy Silva
Lost in Translation:
How to Dispel Stereotypes and Better Communicate with Hispanic Audiences in Middle Tennessee

PRSA March Lunch
Date: March 23, 2010
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Sunset Grill
2001 Belcourt Avenue

Learn about the fast-growing Hispanic population in Middle Tennessee and how you can better communicate with this important part of our community. The panel discussion will include insight about:

· The diversity and achievements of the Hispanic population in Middle Tennessee.

· What we can do to combat false stereotypes and myths about Hispanic members of our community.

· How you can improve outreach to Hispanic audiences in your public relations campaigns.

Amy Napier Viteri, News 2/WKRN
Marcela Gomez, Hispanic Marketing Group
Wendy Silva, owner and president of La Sabrosita Radio

Moderator: Peter Woolfolk, Communications Strategies

For reservations visit: http://www.prsanashville.com/

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Capture spring with photos, sports

Photo by Leslie Rodriguez

Spring starts this Saturday, so what are your outdoor plans, and how will you capture them?

Last year one of our Chilean friends, Javier Rodriguez, played in a local soccer league run by Golazo Sports Company here in Nashville. The player looking at the camera is Brazilian Felipe Lima, who was on this team with Javier and also a teammate with Javier on the Belmont tennis team. Nashville has so many soccer leagues, Golazo had escaped my radar, until now. Let me know if you're in a soccer league, and send me your photo so I can post it here or in the Hispanic Nashville Scrapbook.

Speaking of photos, Javier's wife Leslie just launched Leslie Rodriguez Photography, a wedding, sport and event photography service that is affordable for any event and occasion. Leslie has her own "avant-garde cross-cultural style of photography" taken within the framework of her clients' preferences - even language ("Hablamos español, falamos Português," Leslie says.) Leslie can give price quotes by e-mail at captured.by.leslie@gmail.com. The web site (with more sample photos) is capturedbyleslie.com

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Garcia's Massachusetts home is "immigrant city" reminiscent of historic Germantown and Nolensville Road

Turn Verein Hall, Lawrence, MA

Yesterday I profiled Nashville's ProEnglish advisory board member Eddie V. Garcia, who testified last Tuesday against Tennessee's translations of the written drivers license exam. He did this even though his father had to get around Lawrence, Massachusetts for at least a year before learning English (the Garcias arrived in the U.S. when Eddie was three years old, and Eddie was still translating for his Dad at four).

Eddie, you weren't driving your Dad to the bank at four, were you?

Lawrence, Mass., where Garcia grew up, sounds a lot like Nashville's historic Germantown (the kind we learn about at Oktoberfest) and also like the Nolensville Road that ProEnglish and their allies complain about, what with the sizable immigrant influx and foreign language signs (see above) and all. Lawrence even had Italian- and Spanish-speaking communities, in which Eddie Garcia's family freely socialized in their native tongues.

Lawrence's official web site boasts of the city's immigrant identity:
Known as the "Immigrant City", Lawrence has always been a multi-ethnic and multicultural gateway city with a high percentage of foreign-born residents. The successive waves of immigrants coming to Lawrence to work in the mills began with the Irish, followed by the French Canadians, Englishmen, and Germans in the late 1800s. Around the turn of the century and early 1900s, Italians, Poles, Lithuanians, and Syrians began arriving. The wave of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans started in the mid to late 1900s, and the newest arrivals have originated from Vietnam and Cambodia. The current population of roughly 70,000 is largely Hispanic and has given a Latino slant to the local economy and culture.
Lawrence sounds like a great place, but the problem for Eddie is that most of his allies in these language wars use towns like Lawrence and neighborhoods like Nolensville Road as Exhibit A in what is wrong with America.

See related story: Eddie V. Garcia: the Hispanic Nashvillian who writes and fights for ProEnglish

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eddie V. Garcia: the Hispanic Nashvillian who writes and fights for ProEnglish

One November in the 1970's when Eddie V. Garcia was three years old, his Italian mother Dee and her Chilean-Cuban husband Lou immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.  The Garcia family settled thirty miles north of Boston, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Eddie was raised (see related story: Garcia's Massachusetts home is "immigrant city" reminiscent of historic Germantown and Nolensville Road.)  Eddie and his family became U.S. citizens when Eddie was five years old.

The Garcias spoke the languages of Eddie's parents' respective mother countries when they hung out with their Italian and Spanish neighbors in the ethnically segregated Boston suburb. When family business required dealing with English-speaking institutions, Garcia became the family interpreter - at the bank and with the service companies providing water, phone, and cable.

Garcia now describes himself as fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian.  He sings parts of his song "Sacred Land" in Spanish (audio at the top of this page) and has appeared in LifeWay en Español videos in Spanish (one is above).  Garcia's teenage daughter speaks four languages.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oscar Rayo "comes out" in award-winning description of immigration journey, vision

Oscar Rayo

Renata Soto: "Our nation cannot afford to waste Oscar’s potential"

Overton High School senior Oscar Rayo won the My Latino Roots, My American Dream contest sponsored by Conexion Americas last fall. In his essay, he describes his journey to the U.S., the challenges he faces here, and his dream of a voice for unvisaed immigrants.

The essay is reproduced below, in full, inside Renata Soto's speech about MLK and Latinos in America, which she delivered January 14 at Maryville College.

What makes this week the perfect one for reading Renata's speech and Oscar's winning essay?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Census accuracy campaign targets local Latinos

"The Framers of the Constitution made it clear they wanted 'all inhabitants' of the country counted in the U.S. Census"

The Tennessean recently interviewed Renata Soto of Conexion Americas, Marcela Gomez of Hispanic Marketing Group, and Yuri Cunza of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce about local and national efforts to educate Latinos about the Census.

From the Tennessean:
[Conexion Americas] is developing promotional materials to encourage Latinos in Middle Tennessee to participate in the Census. They include radio ads plus written materials distributed at club meetings and community fairs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More Chile fundraising concert details: venue is Second Pres, proceeds to go to Red Cross, six musical performances plus author Alberto Fuguet

On February 27, the South American country of Chile was struck by one of the most severe earthquakes in modern history, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale. Chileans here in Middle Tennessee, in collaboration with Latin American Studies of Vanderbilt University, are calling for the entire community to come to the aid of the Chilean people.

On Saturday, March 13 at 5:00 p.m., the public is invited to attend a fundraising concert at Second Presbyterian Church, 3511 Belmont Blvd. in Nashville. Local musicians lined up to appear include Dave Perkins, Spanish Serenatta, Danny Salazar, Martina Dreems (featuring Chilean singer/songwriters Marcel and Cristina O’Shee), Leslie McClure, and SOS 3:16. Renowned Chilean author and earthquake survivor Alberto Fuguet will also appear. There is a suggested donation of $15. United Way of Williamson County will act as the fiscal agent to channel 100% of the money collected directly to the Chilean Red Cross, for the communities’ immediate assistance.

If you wish to make a donation, make your check payable to UWWC, under memo write "CHILE," and send to United Way of Williamson County, 209 Gothic Court, Suite 107, Franklin, Tennessee 37067.

For more information visit the event's web site and Facebook page, or contact ChileAidEvent@gmail.com

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bilingual jobs available in Nashville

Our hearts all go out to those who are looking for work in this chaotic economy. The good news is that there are jobs available in Nashville, and some of them require Spanish/English fluency.

Here are three online sources for those jobs: Photo by niznoz. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fundraiser for Chile March 13

My wife Dámariz and some of her fellow Chileans are putting together a March 13 fundraiser in Nashville for the earthquake response effort in Chile. Details will be coming soon. (My understanding is that they've lined up Vanderbilt as a venue and that they're partnering either with the Red Cross or United Way, both of which have a presence in Chile.)

Dámariz asked me to come up with a pin that could be worn in solidarity at the event; this is it. If you want to check out that design on other stuff, go to the store on CafePress.com. Anyone can order from it, and there is no markup (no $ goes to me or to charity). To donate money ahead of the fundraiser, go to google.com/relief/chileearthquake/

If you want to help with the fundraiser, contact Dámariz at damarizlamb and then gmail.com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jorge Yances exhibit "Memories of Cartagena" comes to Parthenon

Opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Friday

Yances immigrated to Nashville with his family when he was 13 and has a bio at the web site of the Metro Arts Commission here. He was profiled by the Nashville City Paper here in 2006. According to that profile,
[t]he Brentwood resident has sold more than 100,000 of his original works, received a commission from Walt Disney World, swept award shows by capturing first place awards and headlined major art shows in Las Vegas and Washington D.C.
Yances and his wife Pilar Arrieta are the former owners of the Palette Gallery and Café in Hillsboro Village. Yances' son Jorge Arrieta is a Nashville artist in his own right.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Echoes of Katrina, 9/11 in Chile destruction

10-meter waves hit coastal towns near epicenter

Houses with cadavers being marked

Lists of missing loved ones

Some of you know my wife is from Chile. She's heard from some but not all of her family since the massive 8.8 (Richter) earthquake hit the country early Saturday morning. Most everyone we know from Santiago has checked in OK. Only my work colleagues haven't responded to my e-mails, and I hope that's just because they're not placing high priority on their work accounts.

But Santiago is not the heart of the story, even though there was damage and death there. As you can see in the map above from the front page of Sunday's El Mercurio, Santiago was only on the border between "strong" and "moderate" damage.

The heart of the story is in the South, especially the coastal towns. Talca, the site of the gripping AP account on the front page of Sunday's Tennessean, was on the fifth ring off the north side of the El Mercurio map's bullseye. Pellehue, in the photo above, is on the second ring off of the north side of the map's bullseye, and you can see that part of that city went underwater. Concepcion, where my wife's family is from, is on the second ring off the bullseye, to the south.

We've tried to get in touch with family down there, to no avail. All over the country, relatives are calling in to radio stations with names of loved ones who are missing. Lists are popping up online. News reports are still coming in slowly, because communication and travel lines are down.

We've heard that the mayor of Concepcion has said that there are no fatalities in the nearby city of Chiguayante, which is where my wife's maternal grandmother is. That is good news. The stories out of nearby Talcahuano, which is right on the coast and where other family is from, are not as good. And the government says that "with every moment we get worse news."

The confirmed death toll had been under 100 for most of the day Saturday, rising by a few people every hour or so. It's since passed 700, with no word on the number of missing. Some government officials wondered aloud how people swept away by the waters in their sleep would be identified.

Today the Mercurio reports that crews are marking houses with cadavers until equipment can be brought in to remove them.

Over the weekend, I was updating my Twitter account @muybna with news that was trickling in - both in Spanish and English. Fox17 later contacted me through Twitter and interviewed my wife and three of our Chilean friends; that story is here.

I know many of you are thinking of and praying for us and our family and for Chile. You've sent us messages of support on Facebook, you've called, you've texted, and you've e-mailed. My wife and her Chilean friends are looking for a way to channel that support to the people who really need it; if you want to help her with that effort, her e-mail is damarizlamb and then gmail.com
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