Peruvian Women, Victims of Forced Sterilization

Photo: Chris Thamann

During the late 1990s about 300,000 Peruvian women underwent sterilization procedures without their fully informed consent. The Peruvian Ministry of Public Health and President Alberto Fujimori backed these practices as part of a government program to promote voluntary sterilization to reduce the national birthrate.

Many of the areas that were targeted with this voluntary program however, were poor rural areas. Investigations have found that under this sterilization program, many women and men were sterilized without their consent.

The victims of this program have taken their claims to Peruvian courts and several human rights organizations have joined them in their campaign. These cases however, remain unresolved and unrecognized by the Peruvian government.

The upcoming Peruvian presidential election also places added uncertainty to the fate of these investigations. Keiko Fujimori, Alberto Fujimori’s daughter, is in the running, and the victims feel that if she wins, their demands for justice will remain unheard.

For an informational video click here

Peruvian Women, Victims of Forced Sterilization

Photo: Chris Thamann

During the late 1990s about 300,000 Peruvian women underwent sterilization procedures without their fully informed consent. The Peruvian Ministry of Public Health and President Alberto Fujimori backed these practices as part of a government program to promote voluntary sterilization to reduce the national birthrate.

Many of the areas that were targeted with this voluntary program however, were poor rural areas. Investigations have found that under this sterilization program, many women and men were sterilized without their consent.

The victims of this program have taken their claims to Peruvian courts and several human rights organizations have joined them in their campaign. These cases however, remain unresolved and unrecognized by the Peruvian government.

The upcoming Peruvian presidential election also places added uncertainty to the fate of these investigations. Keiko Fujimori, Alberto Fujimori’s daughter, is in the running, and the victims feel that if she wins, their demands for justice will remain unheard.

For an informational video click here

LeaLA: a festival for books in Spanish

We all know how much fun Mexican festivals can be so it is important to note that this Friday through Sunday, April 29-May 1st, Los Angeles will be hosting the first ever Spanish book festival. With the effort of the University of Guadalajara, the Jalisco state government and the authorities of the Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL), Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles (LéaLA) will celebrate the first edition of the Spanish book fair in Los Angeles.

Since Los Angeles is the largest hub of Mexicans in the world after Mexico City, it is possible to find almost anything that comes from Mexico including authentic Mexican food, candy, magazines, and snacks, just to mention a few.

But one good thing is still hard to come across–a good book in Spanish! With everything going digital, bookstores are diminishing and with that the already small selection of Spanish books.

For this reason, the arrival of LeaLA is a great event to check out. It not only opens a door to be able to discover, buy, and enjoy amazing books in Spanish it also allows us to listen, speak and engage with the authors.

The program of the event includes: the honoring of Juan Rulfo, presentations by Agustin Yanez, Juan Jose Arreola, Elena Poniatowska, Ofelia Medina, Café Tacuba vocalist Ruben Albarran, and performances by the Ballet Folclórico of the University of Guadalajara, including representatives of the arts of Mexico. The entrance to the book festival is free.

For more information visit LeaLA and don’t miss out on this great event!

Reviving Ancient Food Staples

Ancient crops native to Mayan and Aztec regions are undergoing recovery in 19 Latin American genebanks in order to protect crop diversity and ensure food security, announced the Global Crop Diversity Trust last Thursday.

Crop experts are working to replenish and conserve the thousands of unique strains of staple crops such as corn, tomatoes, cassava, beans. Methods of preservation include cultivating these stored seeds in carefully controlled conditions in order to harvest fresh seed samples, as well as cold storage and even dipping the seeds in liquid nitrogen.

Maintaning the wide range of genetic material is a top priority worldwide as increasing destruction of local environments and climate change threatens biodiversity. 88 countries around the world have already begun to work with the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

La Boquisabrosa’s Update: Is she still a vegetarian?

Hello Food Lovers,

I am back from spring break and writing about what I love: food. However, before I embark on this task, I want to give you an update about my journey of vegetarianism during Lent.  Since March 9, I have been meat-free.

So you may ask, what are your staple foods?

I am not limited on food options as a vegetarian; everyday I try to cook new dishes.  Some of my consistent dishes include: herb rice, potatoes, asparagus, Margherite pizza, nachos, quesadillas, and more.

How many days do I have left?
16 days, then I will return slowly to my regular diet.

Being vegetarian has not been easy, even though I have done this for the past 5 years during lent.  My next blog article will be on the Latino definition of “vegetarian” and came about through certain experience that made it difficult to be vegetarian with my family. I continue to remain strong during these moments and will do so for the next 16 days.

Con amor,

La Boquisabrosa

P.S.
Here is some food that I made.

Closure of Covel Peer Learning Labs Announced

PHOTO: Elida Ledesma

On March 7, several Peer learning facilitators and I received an e-mail from Penny Hein-Unruh, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Support, announcing the closure of Covel Peer Learning Labs effective June 10. In a post on Chancellor Gene Block’s Facebook fan page, Dean and Vice Provost Judith Smith wrote that “state funds for the Division have been cut substantially over the past few years” and as a result a vital service for students has been eliminated.

Despite the cut to funding, it is imperative that the University recognize that the closure of the Math/Science and Composition/ESL labs at Covel will have a large impact on students and facilitators and action must be taken to continue to provide this unique and invaluable service.

Once the news became public, Peer Learning facilitators (PLFs) launched a campaign to save Covel Peer Learning Labs, which included forming a committee to petition the administration to provide peer learning services to the general population. This has taken the form of hundreds of testimonials, over 1,000 signatures on a petition to save the Learning Labs , and support from various student groups such as Mortar Board and the Biomedical Engineering Society, as well as academic departments such as the Regents Scholar society and Professor Rosenzweig, chair of the physics department.

Third-year, physiological sciences and pre-dental student Stephanie Kroll wrote: “Covel Peer Learning Labs saved my life as a pre-health major. With such large, competitive classes, it’s difficult to find that extra edge enabling you to stay in the game. Covel’s collaborative style encourages students to work together to gain a better understanding for all, a learning style that is unrivaled anywhere else on UCLA’s campus.”

After continuous posts to Chancellor Block’s Facebook fan page in opposition to the closure of the Learning Labs, Vice Provost Smith replied by justifying the decision and outlining the priorities of the University, writing: “In consultation with my leadership cabinet, I have set three priorities for the student-based programs offered by the Division.” Her three priorities were: saving academic programs (i.e. Freshman Clusters, Honors Collegium), academic counseling, and the Academic Advancement Program (AAP).

Although such programs are important, there is immense value in offering a free tutoring service for the approximately 20,000 undergraduates who cannot receive assistance at AAP or are not student-athletes. UCLA prides itself for its academic excellence; however this success does not come easily for every incoming freshman who might struggle with the transition from high school to college. This is especially daunting in math/science lower division courses, where the number of students per lecture might be exceedingly high. Take for instance Chem 14B, a common requirement for many pre-med students, which has an enrollment capacity of 235 students this quarter. It is not easy for students in such crowded classrooms to raise their hands and ask questions, and it might be equally hard to get the personalized attention from a professor.

Also, the Composition/ESL lab offers writing assistance for a variety of courses and for all stages of the writing process, which is beneficial for students who struggle with college level writing requirements or international students who are having difficulty with the language. Students who come to the Composition/ESL lab meet with a facilitator one-on-one; this individualized attention is not offered at AAP.

PHOTO: Elida Ledesma

Covel Peer Learning Labs allow students to come and receive assistance from fellow students who have gone through similar experiences and have the knowledge to help their peers succeed academically. PLF’s do not “teach” the material, but rather work collaboratively with students, guiding them through problems and group-based activities. It is the inherent value in discussion and interaction with other students that make our program unique; it is more than mere memorization and regurgitation. Not only do the students who come to the session benefit from this service, but PLFs, who are fellow Bruins, are also afforded a unique opportunity to learn the material they are facilitating more in-depth, develop effective communication skills and confidence in themselves, all of which are skills that will transcend long after graduation.

There might be doubt in the effectiveness of our program, but as a facilitator for the past two years and as one of the current athletic supervisors, I can vouch that what we do at Covel is more than “tutoring.” We build meaningful connections with students, which is evident in the staggering number of testimonials from current and past students who passionately testify to the help they received at Covel.

Granted, PLFs are not professors, but they are highly qualified students who have a passion for helping others succeed by sharing their knowledge and tools they have acquired at UCLA. Facilitators are kind, friendly, intelligent individuals who can have a direct effect on the learning of someone else.

It is regrettable that a program that has so much to offer can be “restructured” without any concrete plans and not be seen as a priority. Although Vice Provost Smith has alluded to creating a new Math/Science and Composition program by next fall, it begs the question, why take away a program that has been working and serving thousands of students to create something completely new?

If the goal of the University is to be cost-effective, this does not seem to be the solution. The University needs to recognize that cutting programs might be inevitable, but it must not be done at the expense of the student population and that they should explore alternate solutions before eliminating a student program that has had so much impact on the lives of so many.

If you want to help in the campaign to provide Covel peer learning services, please visit www.savecovel.com.

Closure of Covel Peer Learning Labs Announced

PHOTO: Elida Ledesma

On March 7, several Peer learning facilitators and I received an e-mail from Penny Hein-Unruh, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Support, announcing the closure of Covel Peer Learning Labs effective June 10. In a post on Chancellor Gene Block’s Facebook fan page, Dean and Vice Provost Judith Smith wrote that “state funds for the Division have been cut substantially over the past few years” and as a result a vital service for students has been eliminated.

Despite the cut to funding, it is imperative that the University recognize that the closure of the Math/Science and Composition/ESL labs at Covel will have a large impact on students and facilitators and action must be taken to continue to provide this unique and invaluable service.

Once the news became public, Peer Learning facilitators (PLFs) launched a campaign to save Covel Peer Learning Labs, which included forming a committee to petition the administration to provide peer learning services to the general population. This has taken the form of hundreds of testimonials, over 1,000 signatures on a petition to save the Learning Labs , and support from various student groups such as Mortar Board and the Biomedical Engineering Society, as well as academic departments such as the Regents Scholar society and Professor Rosenzweig, chair of the physics department.

Third-year, physiological sciences and pre-dental student Stephanie Kroll wrote: “Covel Peer Learning Labs saved my life as a pre-health major. With such large, competitive classes, it’s difficult to find that extra edge enabling you to stay in the game. Covel’s collaborative style encourages students to work together to gain a better understanding for all, a learning style that is unrivaled anywhere else on UCLA’s campus.”

After continuous posts to Chancellor Block’s Facebook fan page in opposition to the closure of the Learning Labs, Vice Provost Smith replied by justifying the decision and outlining the priorities of the University, writing: “In consultation with my leadership cabinet, I have set three priorities for the student-based programs offered by the Division.” Her three priorities were: saving academic programs (i.e. Freshman Clusters, Honors Collegium), academic counseling, and the Academic Advancement Program (AAP).

Although such programs are important, there is immense value in offering a free tutoring service for the approximately 20,000 undergraduates who cannot receive assistance at AAP or are not student-athletes. UCLA prides itself for its academic excellence; however this success does not come easily for every incoming freshman who might struggle with the transition from high school to college. This is especially daunting in math/science lower division courses, where the number of students per lecture might be exceedingly high. Take for instance Chem 14B, a common requirement for many pre-med students, which has an enrollment capacity of 235 students this quarter. It is not easy for students in such crowded classrooms to raise their hands and ask questions, and it might be equally hard to get the personalized attention from a professor.

Also, the Composition/ESL lab offers writing assistance for a variety of courses and for all stages of the writing process, which is beneficial for students who struggle with college level writing requirements or international students who are having difficulty with the language. Students who come to the Composition/ESL lab meet with a facilitator one-on-one; this individualized attention is not offered at AAP.

PHOTO: Elida Ledesma

Covel Peer Learning Labs allow students to come and receive assistance from fellow students who have gone through similar experiences and have the knowledge to help their peers succeed academically. PLF’s do not “teach” the material, but rather work collaboratively with students, guiding them through problems and group-based activities. It is the inherent value in discussion and interaction with other students that make our program unique; it is more than mere memorization and regurgitation. Not only do the students who come to the session benefit from this service, but PLFs, who are fellow Bruins, are also afforded a unique opportunity to learn the material they are facilitating more in-depth, develop effective communication skills and confidence in themselves, all of which are skills that will transcend long after graduation.

There might be doubt in the effectiveness of our program, but as a facilitator for the past two years and as one of the current athletic supervisors, I can vouch that what we do at Covel is more than “tutoring.” We build meaningful connections with students, which is evident in the staggering number of testimonials from current and past students who passionately testify to the help they received at Covel.

Granted, PLFs are not professors, but they are highly qualified students who have a passion for helping others succeed by sharing their knowledge and tools they have acquired at UCLA. Facilitators are kind, friendly, intelligent individuals who can have a direct effect on the learning of someone else.

It is regrettable that a program that has so much to offer can be “restructured” without any concrete plans and not be seen as a priority. Although Vice Provost Smith has alluded to creating a new Math/Science and Composition program by next fall, it begs the question, why take away a program that has been working and serving thousands of students to create something completely new?

If the goal of the University is to be cost-effective, this does not seem to be the solution. The University needs to recognize that cutting programs might be inevitable, but it must not be done at the expense of the student population and that they should explore alternate solutions before eliminating a student program that has had so much impact on the lives of so many.

If you want to help in the campaign to provide Covel peer learning services, please visit www.savecovel.com.