SJSU’s University Scholars Series continues March 22, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229 with a lecture by Associate Professor Shannon Rose Riley, who will discuss her book “Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, and US Culture, 1898-1940.”
When Riley was a graduate student at the University of California, Davis – with a background in fine arts, performance art and video, among other artistic disciplines – a conversation with a respected colleague more than a decade ago encouraged her to follow her passion for the nations of Cuba and Haiti and their impact on American arts, culture and society.
Riley said the spark that led to her book grew out of a conversation she had with the late Marc Blanchard, a highly regarded UC Davis comparative literature professor, who was impressed with her passion on the subject.
“I was talking about my belief that those countries, which are on opposite sides of the Windward Passage and provide a corridor for travel between the U.S. East Coast and the Panama Canal, have had a major impact on culture in the United States,” Riley said.
The proximity has been significant to the nation’s artistic culture as well as perceptions of race and racial relations in the U.S. Riley’s interest in the Caribbean grew out of a trip she made to Haiti through the Art Institute of Chicago as a young art student.
Sharon Rose Riley poses for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Riley will be participating in the Spring University Scholars Series. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)
Silicon Valley is considered by many to be the technology capital of the world and what happens here has a profound influence on the entire world. As San Jose State University continues to prepare students to join the 21st-century workforce, the College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) encourages many of its undergraduates to take at least one academic course abroad, taught by an SJSU faculty member, before they earn their degree.
Unbounded Learning, one of the major goals established by the Vision 2017 initiative, asked faculty and students to think outside the classrooms. CASA’s International Experience Initiative began in fall 2015 and now requires students enrolled in majors in five schools or departments within the college – School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the departments of Occupational Therapy, Hospitality Management, Kinesiology, and Justice Studies – to complete the requirement. About 175 students are anticipated to participate in eleven faculty-led programs with CASA faculty in 2017 (additional faculty-led programs are offered by faculty in other colleges as well).
“The goal of CASA’s international experience requirement is to introduce students to international and intercultural perspectives as a way to prepare them to live and work in an increasingly globalized world,” said Pamela Richardson, an associate dean in CASA who oversees the International Experience Initiative.
Accompanied by SJSU faculty members on their international excursions, which usually last about three weeks, the destinations and cultures have been as diverse as the subjects studied.
Shirley Reekie, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, is scheduled to lead her course in Sports, Culture and Recreation to the United Kingdom again this summer, while Deepa Singamsetti, lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, will return to Puerto Rico to lead courses in food, culture and the environment. She plans to do it again – in India – next winter. This summer Lynne Andonian, an associate professor of occupational therapy, and Ruth Rosenblum, an assistant professor of nursing, will repeat their 2016 course offering on interdisciplinary health care, again in Finland.
Diane Guerrazzi, an associate professor, and Halima Kazem, a lecturer, in the School of Mass Communications taught a class in Greece and Germany last summer that documented the path of refugees from Syria and other countries into Europe. They plan to take another class of 14 pupils to Greece and Italy this summer, again to cover the migration of refugees from Syria as well as other Middle East and African countries. During their upcoming three-week trip, the students will learn how to write and produce documentary broadcast reports while visiting refugee camps, relief agencies and a small town in Italy that has taken in an extraordinary number of refugees. Both Guerrazzi (broadcast) and Kazem (print) have extensive international reporting experience.
“A faculty member from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University told me how impressed he is with the international experience we offer our students,” said Guerrazzi, who also serves as SJSU’s representative on the California State University Council of International Programs. “I know from my own experience of leading these international educational trips that every person would tell you how life-altering they are. They certainly broaden their world perspectives.”
Megan Dejan, an SJSU senior who studied global leadership in Paris last summer with Dr. Matt Cabot’s class, agrees with Guerrazzi about the positive impact that the international learning experience had on her. The public relations major said she “had the opportunity to network and work closely alongside Europe’s top strategic communications firms, including the International Chamber of Commerce, Ubisoft … as well as the European Union.”
“This class opened my mind to become more globally competent (and) to become a young global leader,” Dejan said. “I am now inspired to travel and build my global network through my passion with public relations.”
Jayne Balthazar, an SJSU alumna, traveled to Paris in summer 2014 with Linda Levine, a lecturer in the Department of Health Science and Recreation.
“It was the first time I earned a scholarship and traveled independently (of my family) and shared a room with someone I barely knew,” Balthazar said, noting that she also raised money on her own to take the trip.
She said Levine and her husband David Buseck, an SJSU lecturer and co-instructor of the program, helped the students navigate the city and learn many things.
“When we first arrived in Paris, we didn’t know how to use the Metro, but we had Linda and David there to help us.”
Students who seek an alternative from the study abroad requirement – due to financial hardship, serious personal life situation, or physical limitations – may petition CASA to substitute a one-unit online seminar in conjunction with 20 hours of volunteer service to a San Jose organization that helps individuals or groups and represents a cultural heritage other than their own.
Further information about the program is available online.
Bryan Stevenson, the author of “Just Mercy“, the SJSU Campus Reading book selection for 2016-17, will be speaking on campus Friday, Feb. 24, at noon, at the Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio. Find more information and get free tickets online – students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.
Mercy’s book chronicles his years in law school and as a practicing attorney in the South when he worked to defend death row inmates. The book is marked by his personal reflections and descriptions of the people he defended. The book tackles issues of race, poverty and social justice in the United States. The event is sponsored by the Campus Reading Program, Campus Life, the Office of Diversity, the Office of the Provost, the NAACP, the Center for Literary Arts and Silicon Valley Reads
Other upcoming events related to the Campus Reading Program this spring include:
DEFAMATION – LIVE COURTROOM DRAMA!
Thursday, Feb. 23, at4:30 p.m.
Student Union Theatre
We are proud to be co-sponsoring this event with our friends at MOSAIC and Justice Studies. Attend an interactive theatrical drama that explores race and class inequities and injustices in the American judicial system. DEFAMATION will be performed at the Student Union Theater. (Then, two days later, come hear Bryan Stevenson address these topics in person at the Hammer Theatre!)
A TALK with SHAKA SENGHOR, AUTHOR of “WRITING MY WRONGS”
Thursday, March 23, at 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225
In collaboration with our partner Silicon Valley Reads, we invite you to a talk by an author on a related subject-one man’s struggle while caught up in America’s mass incarceration epidemic. Shaka Senghor, author of “Writing My Wrongs”, will appear at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Thursday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. in MLK 225.
“A REACTION to BRYAN STEVENSON’S JUST MERCY”
Tuesday, April 18, at 4 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Room 225
Khalid White from the African American Studies Department will give a presentation, “A Reaction to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.
San Jose State University will host a screening of the documentary “Stolen Education,” followed by a discussion, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229. The documentary discussed segregation of schools in the southwest during the 1950s and looks at the way eight Mexican-American school children fought against injustice. The event will be attended by Dr. Enqique Aleman Jr, an executive producer and writer, and professor and chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas, San Antonio, along with Ruby Luna, a director and writer. The discuss is sponsored by the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center and Adelante, the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Task Force. Associate Professor Rebeca Burciaga, from SJSU’s educational leadership department, helped to coordinate the event.
Matthew Spangler, a professor of communication studies in SJSU’s College of Social Sciences, created a theater adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner that is currently on stage in London’s West End. The show opened on Dec. 21 and runs until March 11. The performances are at Wyndham’s Theatre, an 800 seat venue off Leicester Square. The play has so far garnered more than two dozen reviews, including the few publications highlighted below:
“The best page-to-stage show since War Horse. . . . Matthew Spangler’s adaptation held the crowd spellbound. . . . Heartbreakingly good stage version of a popular story earns its place in the West End.”
“Spangler skillfully balances the scenes in Asia with those of the Afghan refugees seeking to maintain their dignity and culture in the West. . . . It cannot but remind us of the thousands of vulnerable children in Syria today.”
“The book has to be something I really like,” Spangler said, of working on an adaptation. “When you write a play, you spend a lot of time with it. It takes about a year to write it, then I look for a theatre that wants to produce it and then there’s the rehearsal time. It can be a two-to-three-year process so it has to be a story I really feel connected to and I want to share.”