A diverse education in Salt Lake City

by ERIK DAENITZ

Patricia Quijano Dark wants her daughters to appreciate diversity. But she didn’t find that in the public schools near their home in Sandy, Utah, so she and four other women helped create the Dual Immersion Academy, which opened in September 2007.

“At the Dual Immersion Academy we are achieving more diversity, multiple colors and multiple languages,” she said.

The first fully bilingual school in Utah, DIA teaches all subjects in both Spanish and English to children in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The children quickly develop the ability to read, write and speak in both languages, Dark said. This ability allows students to better communicate with each other, breaking down barriers and increasing the diversity of stories, ideas and experiences.

Armando Solorzano, a researcher and associate professor in the department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah, agrees with Dark.

“The DIA is very positive,” Solorzano said. “It integrates children at a very early age so children grow up with an understanding of each other’s differences. It breaks the cycle of racism and discrimination.”

DIA helps break down cultural barriers but has other benefits, too. Dark said that students who attend a bilingual school such as the Dual Immersion Academy are 70 percent more likely to attend college than those who do not.

However, in the state of Utah, rising tuition costs are affecting one’s chances of attending college.

In 2002 the Utah Legislature passed House Bill 144, which allowed undocumented students to receive in-state tuition at public universities if they met certain requirements. Now with House Bill 241, the benefit of in-state tuition costs may be repealed.

The bill counteracts much of Dark’s efforts by raising the costs of a college education. At the DIA more than half of the 350 students live below federal poverty standards.

Solorzano said the educational system does not provide the same opportunities to everybody. In fact, halting the potential of Latino students harms not only them, but also the community as a whole.

“Why are we not letting these students come?” he said. “It is limiting opportunities and affecting the economy of Utah. These individuals will not be able to compete in a global society.”

Dark said the buying power of Utah’s Latinos today exceeds $5 billion and by the year 2010 it is expected to exceed $6.5 billion. She said that purchasing power could be diminished substantially if people are unable to attend college and obtain jobs that pay well.

These figures mesh with data released in an article by Mark Alvarez, administrator of minority affairs with the U’s Center for Public Policy and Administration, in an article titled, “Latino Participation.” He expects Latino purchasing power to reach $6.2 billion by 2010.

While there exists a connection between education and business in Utah, the same connection exists in Dark’s own life.

Her goal of educating children dovetails with her efforts to do the same for adults through the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Dark, 41, accepted the position as executive director of the chamber after a career as a reporter in England and Argentina. One of her goals is to provide a resource for immigrants who are unfamiliar with life in Utah.

She recently instituted new workshops that anyone can attend. The program allows people to meet, share experiences, develop new business contacts and enjoy food and refreshments together.

Dark pointed out that many immigrants from other countries are highly educated but still have trouble integrating into a new culture due to unfamiliarity with businesses here and the education system.

Carlos Paz, 27, a U student identifies with this.

Paz holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Buenos Aires, an associate degree in health science from Brigham Young University, and he will soon graduate from the U with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and a minor in psychology. He plans to attend medical school after graduation.

Despite his academic success, Paz still encountered some of the challenges that Dark spoke of.

“When I first came to the United States I had to explain the way I was thinking,” Paz said. “For example, when I did math the solution was right but the work I did was different. I would get marked off and have to explain my thinking.”

Paz traveled to the United States for a brief stint in high school before going to college. He said that people expected a lower quality of work from him. They made fun of the way he spoke, and his treatment by classmates was upsetting.

Dark pointed out how preconceived notions about people can lead to incorrect judgments.

“There is a misconception that all Hispanics are the same, and we encounter that in the press,” she said. “Don’t ever underestimate who you are talking to.”

Solorzano has experienced incorrect judgments too. He offered suggestions for how people can avoid stereotypical thinking.

“People need to be educated to start with,” Solorzano said. “They need to start with actual information instead of perception. They need to be open-minded and deal with problems from a more holistic view. They need to break the suspicion that Latinos are here to damage the country. We are not here to damage it. We are here to build it.”

Education is a common theme among these three individuals. They view it as an essential means of self-improvement.

Patricia Dark helps lead two organizations that aim to educate and break down barriers and has met many challenges along the way.

“Opening a school is like building an airplane in the air,” she said. “But, when you dedicate yourself to something you just do it. You don’t walk away from something you start.”

While Dark’s daughters Katie, 5, and Elizabeth, 7, have the unique status of triple citizenship in England, Argentina and the United States, not all immigrants enjoy this benefit.

Undocumented students face adversity in their goals of personal betterment. Yet these students may still have hope for an affordable education.

“One of our biggest supporters is Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.,” Dark said. “He understands the importance of diversity and languages.”

The outcome for House Bill 241 has not been decided. However, Patricia Quijano Dark and others who value education will continue to advocate for the benefits that it brings.

 

Una educación diversa en Salt Lake City

por ERIC DAENITZ; traducido por MIGUEL PALMA NIETO

Patricia Quijano Dark quiere que sus hijas aprecien la diversidad en su comunidad. Pero las escuelas publicas cercas de su casa en sandy no ofrecen esto. Así que con la ayuda de cuatro mujeres Dark creo la escuela con el nombre Dual Immersion Academy, cual Abrió sus puertas en Septiembre 2007.

En esta Academia hemos alcanzado mas diversidad, mas color y lenguajes, Dark dijo.

La primera escuela completamente bilingüe en Utah, DIA les enseña a los estudiantes todo tipo de materia en ambos ingles y español, desde kinder hasta el sexto año.

Los niños desarrollan rápidamente la habilidad de poder leer y escribir en ambos idiomas. Esto les ayuda a los estudiantes a comunicarse uno con el otro quebrando la barreras e incrementar los diferentes tipos de historias, ideas y experiencias que tiene cada estudiante.

Armando Solórzano, profesor en el departamento de Estudios de Familia y consumo en la Universidad de Utah, esta de acuerdo con Dark.

“La DIA es algo muy positivo,” dijo Solórzano. “Los niños están en la escuela juntos desde muy pequeños, así crecen juntos entendiendo las diferencias de cada uno. Esto rompe el ciclo de racismo y discriminación.

A parte de romper esas barreras culturales DIA tiene mas que ofrecer, Dark dice que los estudiantes que vienen a escuelas como Dual Immersion Academy tienen un 70 por ciento mas en probabilidad en ir a una universidad.

Sin embargo, en el estado de Utah, el alto costo universitario afecta la oportunidad para que estos niños puedan asistir a una Universidad.

En el 2002 el Estado de Utah paso proposito 144 a ser ley, cual permite a estudiantes indocumentados asistir a una universidad publica, pagar el costo como estudiante local que seria mas barato que pagar como estudiante extranjero. Los jóvenes tienen que tener ciertos requisitos para pagar como estudiante local. Pero con el propósito 241 llega a pasar el beneficio de costo estatal puede ser revocado y los estudiantes tendrán que pagar mas.

Propósito 241 contra ataca los esfuerzos que Dark, subiendo el costo de colegiatura. En DIA mas de la mitad de los 350 estudiantes viven en pobresa.

Solórzano dice que el sistema educativo no ofrece las mismas oportunidades a todos. De hecho detener la educación para latinos daña no solo a ellos, pero también a la comunidad.

“Por que no dejamos que estos estudiantes vengan a estudiar?” dijo Solórzano. “Les estamos limitando oportunidades y afecta a la economía de Utah. Y estos jóvenes no podrán competir con una sociedad globalizada.”

Dark dice que el poder de consumo del los Latinos sobrepasa los $5 billones y para el año 2010 se espera que sobrepase los $6.5 billones. Este poder de consumo disminuirá si estos jóvenes no podrán asistir a una Universidad y obtener trabajos con buen sueldo.

Estos números coinciden con u articulo publicado por Mark Álvarez con el “center for public policy and administation” en la Universidad de Utah. El articulo titulado “Participación del Latino.” El espera que el poder de consumo del latino en Estado Unidos alcance los $6.2 billones para 2010.

Mientras en Utah existe una conexión entre la educación y el negocio. También ay una conexión con la vida de la Sra. Dark.

Su meta de educar a niños va mano en mano a sus esfuerzos a educar a adultos por medio de The Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Dark de 41 años de edad acepto la posición de directora ejecutiva en el chamber después de trabajar como reportera en Argentina e Inglaterra. Una de sus metas es proveer un lugar de recursos para imigrantes que no están familiarizados como es la vida en Utah.

Recientemente Dark a organizado pequeños talleres donde la gente se juntan disfrutan de comida y refrescos. Mientras se conocen, comparten experiencias, y crean contactos para expandir o empezar sus propios negocios.

Dark dio a reconocer que muchos imigrantes de otros países están educados, pero tienen problemas integrándose a una nueva cultura debido a no estar familiarizado como el negocio y la educación trabaja en este país.

Estudiante Carlos Paz de 27 años de edad se identifica muy bien con este tipo de casos.

Paz se recibió en administración de negocios en la Universidad De Buenos Aires, y un asociados en Ciencias de salud en Brigham Young University, y pronto se recibirá en fisiología en la Universidad de Utah y una carrera chica en psicología. Una vez de graduarse el planea en ir a escuela medica.

A pesar de sus éxito académico, Paz nos menciona de los desafios con los cuales se a encontrado.

“Cuando llegue a los Estado Unidos tenia que explicar la forma en que estaba pensando,” explico Paz. “Por ejemplo, cuando hacia matemáticas el resultado estaba bien pero el trabajo que hacia era diferente. Así que me marcaban el problema mal, y tenia que explicar mi forma de procesar el problema.”

Paz viajo un poco a los Estado Unidos mientras iba al colegio. Paz menciona, cuando se trataba de trabajos academicos la gente tenia bajas expectativas. Se burlaban de la forma en que hablaba y le molestaba la forma en que los otros estudiantes lo trataban.

Dark menciona como ciertos conceptos que algunos tienen acerca de gente lleva a alguien ser juzgado incorrectamente.

“Ay un concepto erróneo de que todos los Latinos somos iguales, y vemos esto en los medios. No hay que subestimar con aquel quien estas hablando.”

Solórzano también a tenido malas experiencias en la forma que a sido juzgado. El ofrece sugerencias en que forma de evadir el esteriotipo que la gente puede tener acerca de Latinos.

“Primero la gente tiene la necesidad de educarse. Necesitan empezar con información actual en ves de percepciones. Necesitan mantener una mente abierta y enfrentar los problemas en una forma mas pacifica. Necesitan deshacerse de la idea que Latinos están aquí para dañar el país. No estamos aquí para hacerle daño, estamos aquí para construirlo.”

La educación es algo muy común en este tercio. Ellos ven la educación como una forma de mejorarse.

Patricia Dark se a enfrenado con varios retos ya que es parte de dos organizaciones donde la meta es educar y romper barreras.

“Abrir una escuela es como construír un avión en el aire,” expreso Dark. “Pero cuando te dedicas a algo nada mas tienes que hacerlo. No puedes dejar algo que acabas de empezar.”

Las hijas de Patricia Dark, Katie de 5 años y Elizabeth de 7, tienen la rara comodidad de tener tres ciudadanías en Inglaterra, Argentina, y los Estados Unidos. No todos los inmigrantes disfrutan de este beneficio.

Estudiantes indocumentados se enfrentan contra varios obstáculos en tratar de alcanzar sus metas, pero de cualquier manera estos estudiantes tienen esperanza en tener una educación accesible.

“Tenemos el gran apoyo del Gobernador Jon Huntsman Jr.,” menciona Dark. “El entiende la importancia de diversidad y lenguajes.”

Todavía no se a dado el resultado sobre el propósito 241. Pero de todas formas Patricia Quijano Dark y otros quienes valoran la educación seguirán apoyando los beneficios que de a la comunidad.

Student embodies center’s core values of social justice

Story and photo by JAIME WINSTON

Construction is particularly loud outside the offices of the University of Utah’s Center for Ethnic Student Affairs.

Visitors to the office take a longer route due to the work being done to improve the Union building, which houses CESA. Despite the inconvenience, students inside the offices are building relationships and a support base.

According to CESA’s mission statement, the group assists ethnic students in navigating cultural, economic, social and institutional barriers. Valery Pozo, peer mentor for the program, embodies these principles, Luciano Marzulli said.

“She is a scholar, highly intelligent, well organized and really dedicated to our core values like social justice, equity and education,” said Marzulli, CESA Latina/o Program Coordinator.

In addition to working at CESA, Pozo is a resident advisor at the university’s Benchmark residence halls and co-chair for the campus branch of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan — MEChA. She is in her third year at the university and vocal about issues regarding Latina/o students.valery-pozo

Pozo said after she earns an undergraduate degree in history, she plans to pursue a master’s degree at Arizona State University and become a high school counselor. “Counselors have a vital role in students’ careers and students’ futures,” she said.

Pozo was born in Salt Lake City, but her parents are originally from Peru. When they came to Utah, they worked for another couple who discouraged them from teaching Pozo Spanish. The employers felt it would hold Pozo back. Now she is learning the language at school, but some instructors have assumed she already knows it and is looking for easy credit.

“I’ve been asked if I know Spanish and to leave the class because it’s not fair to the other students,” she said.

Students experiencing similar struggles often visit Pozo at CESA. One student approached Pozo because her parents were pressuring her to go into a science field even though she did not enjoy it. Eventually, the parents realized their daughter needed to make her own decisions about the direction her life takes.

Pozo’s mother inspired her daughter’s path in life. “I don’t think she realizes it, but my mother influenced me a lot in how I want to frame my life in social justice,” Pozo said. Her mother talked to her at a young age about issues like the United Fruit Company’s presence in South America and listened to news and political debates with her.

“When I was younger I was listening to the 1996 Democratic presidential debates and I rooted for Bill Clinton like no other,” Pozo said. She is now supporting the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and met Chelsea Clinton when she campaigned for her mother at the university in January.

Aside from politics, Pozo is concerned with the way students are treated. Many educators show a lack of respect for identities of ethnic students and do not expect much of them academically, she said. Since Pozo was an honors student at East High School, teachers treated her better than other ethnic students, she said.   

Students at CESA tell each other about professors and other students who unintentionally make intolerant remarks. Pozo experienced this herself, when a professor repeatedly used the term “Latin American whore” to refer to his frequent visits to Latin America. “But just his language was ridiculous,” she said.

Some instructors do understand other cultures and encourage minority students to achieve, Pozo said, such as Theresa Martinez, associate professor in the Department of Sociology. Pozo also has noticed some high school counselors supporting students who want to get involved with MEChA and go to college.

Many students Pozo has met in MEChA have been discouraged from pursuing higher education. Pozo worked with one student who was told she was not cut out for a writing course by an instructor. Situations like this are not uncommon, Pozo said, especially for undocumented students.

A controversial bill, HB 241, preventing undocumented students from paying in-state tuition unless they do not have a job outside of school was recently debated. Undocumented students face many challenges already, Pozo said. An example is one of her high school friends. “She’s been here since she was really little,” Pozo said. “I don’t think it’s fair that we went to high school together, we did a lot of things together, and all of a sudden she wasn’t supposed to attend higher education.” Pozo and MEChA lobbied against the bill, which did not make it to the Senate floor.

The bill would have perpetuated the status of second class citizens placed on undocumented students, Pozo said. “If they don’t have an education, they don’t have the tools to pursue other goals and careers.” A limited number of scholarships are available to undocumented students. According to the university’s income accounting and student loan services, the in-state tuition for lower-division freshman with one credit hour is about $661, while an out-of-state student pays about $1,900.

Pozo said she stands up for what she believes in, even when it doesn’t have much impact. However, a handful of representatives like state Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake, listens to the MEChA students and keeps them aware of what is going on inside the legislative sessions.

Colleen Casto, who does community outreach for diversity at the university, said the general public doesn’t always get a sense of the challenges immigrants face. “They don’t understand how difficult it is, the bureaucracy, how many years it takes people to get here and the compelling reasons why they come here,” she said.

Pozo was a student in Casto’s honors think-tank class on immigration. “Sometimes when a group of students gets stuck on something she tends to jump in and facilitate,” Casto said. The students went to Mexico during Winter Break 2006 to develop an immigration resource guide book. “They worked really hard on it and the reason they did all the research is because they found that the general public didn’t understand it,” said Casto, who supports the lobbying that MEChA has done.

Groups like Black Student Union and Asian American Student Association also have shown their support for MEChA’s efforts. This year, CESA is focusing on cross cultural leadership and how to work with other student groups, Pozo said. MEChA helped BSU and AASA with their high school conferences, while those organizations assisted MEChA in fundraising efforts. Members of all three groups are often seen forming bonds in the CESA offices.

Most students who utilize the office come quite often. “It’s weird seeing a student you don’t see regularly,” Pozo said. Like many students, she experiences a sense of community at CESA. “I can come and share my experiences and my frustrations or laugh at some stupid racist comment,” she said.

“Students know each other and it’s a very close knit community,” said Feleti Matagi, director of the university’s Opportunities Scholar Program and former program coordinator for Pacific Islanders at CESA. Many of the students he assisted at CESA told him about incidents of racism. “I’ve had several students who had experiences where they expressed issues in their life and other students disrespected or disregarded it,” he said.

As a high school counselor, Pozo wants to assist students who have been overlooked because of their race and utilize the knowledge she is gaining at CESA today.