In Defense of MAS

DSCN1653Universities are slowly beginning to offer more opportunities in cultural studies for its students. As a Latina, knowing that the university I currently attend – the University of Texas at Austin – offers students the ability to get a degree in Asian, Asian American, Islamic, Jewish, and Middle Eastern Studies (just to name a few), really made me want to learn about the Mexican American Studies degree. Sooner than later, I decided to double major in it. For me, my heritage played a lot into this decision, but it really does not matter if you identify as Mexican American or not. It also does not matter if you know a lot of this culture because there are so many more things the Mexican American Studies degree can do for you.

Is a Mexican American Studies degree worth it?

It is important to understand the criticism that the idea of Mexican American Studies has been facing for the past couple of years. With schools in Arizona, Texas, and California struggling to offer Mexican American Studies in their schools, it is only harder for colleges and universities to do the same– especially when the degree can definitely be put into good use.

With a Mexican American Studies degree, for example, you can become a Study Abroad Coordinator for a university or Marketing and Advertising Manager for a big international corporation.

The degree also allows you to tailor another interest you might be pursuing as well. For example, if you are a government major and decide to get another degree at the same time in Mexican American Studies, then you can possibly become an Affirmative Action Specialist. If you’re a communications major and get a dual degree, you can possibly become a writer for a Latin@ based organization, or a foreign policy news analyst.

For Estela Maldonado, coming back to school to get a Mexican American studies degree meant being able to help more people. After having a son, she said coming back to school to major in Mexican American Studies meant she would be able to tell her son “more about where he comes from.” A frequent volunteer in events that raise awareness over immigration and labor form, she said, “with my degree, I can be a more informed member of the community I choose to take part in.”

Where can I study this?

Texas is not the only state that offers a Mexican American studies degree. There are different programs such as the Latino Studies Program at Cornell University, the Center for Latino Policy Research at UC Berkeley, and the Hispanic Research Center where this or a similar degree can be studied.  Within these programs there are classes that are offered in areas such as Spanish literature, anthropology, and political science. Some course titles offered at the University of Texas at Austin, for example, include classes like “Introduction to Cultural Studies; “Mexico: From Aztlan to Zapata”; and “Chicanos and Film: Representation of la Raza.” At the University of Houston, you might take “MAS 3341: Mexican American Experience through Film” or “MAS 3342: Mexican Immigration to the United States.” If you go out of state, you can take classes like “MAS 485: Mexicana/Chicana Women’s History” or “MAS 369: Mexico Since Independence” at the University of Arizona.

Taking classes in these degree programs ask for an array of skills. It is not like your typical degree program where you might only be conducting experiments or attending meetings. Depending on the institution and track you choose (i.e. cultural studies, policy studies), the things you will be doing coincide.

For example, if you want to focus on studying the cultural side of Mexican American studies, you might be studying Mexican American literature, movies, and history.  Because the Mexican American Studies degree is more of a specialization in cultural studies (since you can also study Asian American History, African American History, etc.), schools usually have an option for you to focus more on the political or social history side of Mexican American Studies. Other universities, such as Our Lady of the Lake University, offer more general courses in Mexican American Studies focusing on more of an overview in the area.

Recently, South Texas College in McAllen, Texas became the first college to offer a Mexican American Studies degree that can be earned completely online. There are currently 28 colleges and universities across the United States that offer a Mexican American Studies as a degree. But in other schools such as the University of Arizona, new Ph.D. and doctoral programs are now being offered.

So whatever the case may be, there are many possibilities for you to make the Mexican American studies fit to your needs. Do not be afraid to do some research and reach out to admissions offices about their Mexican American studies degree. You will not regret your decision!

Film: Life on the Line

Photo Credit: http://finelinefilms.org

Photo Credit: http://finelinefilms.org

In the documentary, “Life on the Line: Coming of age between nations” by Jen Gilomen and Sally Rubin, the life of a young eleven year old girl, Kimberly Torrez, is portrayed in the story to show her family’s hardships in life facing difficulties in two different worlds. This documentary will be aired during Hispanic Heritage Month, in September on PBS.

Growing up is hard as it is, with all of the different changes happening, especially when you have to grow up in two different countries. In the life of Kimberly Torrez, the oldest of three children, she is faced with drastic changes in her life living in Mexico and going to school in Arizona. Each morning she wakes up early to walk across the border to go to school because she does not drive.

At such an early age of only 11 years old, she is faced with many responsibilities, has to wake up extra early, takes care of her little siblings from time to time to help out the parents, and, most importantly, is being brave through this passage of growing up.

As if it isn’t enough, she also has to deal with the ongoing violence occurring in Nogales; from hearing gunshots to police sirens nearby, at an early age in her life, she has many worries at such a young age.

In addition, she also has to cope with her parents going through a rough patch. Her father has Hepatitis C from getting several tattoos, which he later realizes were done with unsterilized needles. In need of a liver transplant, it became difficult for the father to find a reliable job in Nogales.

Because of the father’s sickness, the mother became the only one that could work to provide for their family.  She worked in Mexico because she was never a U.S citizen; she had crossed a long time ago illegally to have her children, but returning was not possible.

Times began to get more difficult, and the father then decides to cross the border and find a job in the U.S, which he did. He found a job in construction in Arizona, which was hours away from his family. He took the job and was separated from his family for months, in order to earn more money to be able to support his family through these difficult times.

After a while Kimberly’s mom got her Visa in the mail, which allowed her to finally cross the border to the U.S.. To add to the good news, Kimberly’s family finds out that a liver became available for their father’s transplant

Growing up is hard, and living in two worlds is difficult, but with Kimberly’s family supporting one another and always trying their best without giving up, they did it, together. For a tale of perseverance and the obstacles that come from immigrant families, this film is a must-see this September.

DIY Valentine’s Day Gifts

Candy-Hearts-for-Valentines-DayThat time of the year is coming again, the time where you walk in to the stores and you see pink, red, and white all over the place, stuffed animals of all sizes and chocolates, but everything is the same; it’s time to create something special and unique!

The Scavenger Hunt:

You’ll need balloons, paper and markers, sticky notes, and helium. Write tiny clues in a piece of paper, fold it in very small and put it inside the balloon before you fill it up with helium, you can write anything that lead to the big prize, for example “It’s in something you use daily.” Then, place these clues in different locations you know that person is on a daily basis so that they get surprised when they see it. Once you fill up the balloon with helium write on the balloon with a marker “Pop for clue” and they would have to pop the balloon to see your clue. It’s a fun, playful gift! Once they get all of the balloons popped (you can make as many as you want), lead them to where the big prize is, for example: you can fill their car or bedroom with sticky notes with memories and inside jokes of you guys, make it colorful, make it original, make it unique!

If you want to go with a simple, but cheesy gift, go with this one:

The Candy vase:

All you need is a small glass vase of any size, a sharpie marker, m&m’s and skittles. It’s a candy fun activity! Pour half of the chocolates into the jar, open the skittles and only put one. Then, pour the rest of the chocolates into the jar and you can enjoy eating  the rest of the left-over skittles! Once you’re done pouring the candy, write “You’re one in a million” on the vase. If the person likes skittles more than chocolate, you can do the same but vice versa!

The Scratch off:

All you need is a nice piece of paper, white Crayola crayon, paint (any kind), a pen, and a quarter. First, you fold the paper in half so you can make two “scratch-offs,” write “scratch to reveal,” draw three hearts, and write what you would like to give them inside of the hearts.  For example, you can write “pay for the movies,” “make you dinner,” a hug, etc. Be creative! Once you write on all of them, color the heart with the white crayon.

Tip: You will need color it in over and over.

After you finish coloring it in, you paint the hearts and let it dry. Finally, when you give it to them you can tell them only to scratch only one or, if you’re feeling generous, have them scratch off all of them. You can make your own rules for the scratch-off game.  Next, give them the quarter to use to scratch off the pain, and voila!

Similar to the cheesy, but cute, vase gift is the “Open When….” Envelopes

“Open When….”  Envelopes:

This is a smart and sweet idea to make someone’s day. To make it work you will need to get as many envelopes as possible. On each envelope put “Open when…”  to indicate when the person should open the envelope. For example “Open when you feel sad,” or “Open when you want to laugh” and inside you put something that will cheer them up or make them laugh, pictures of you guys, funny/inside jokes, anything that will make them not feel sad anymore or laugh like crazy. The point to these envelopes is to make the connection with the person stronger, whether it is a friend, family, or your special someone. When you’re done making the envelopes, put them in a pretty hardcover box and label it “Open when…” You can make an envelope out of any occasion or situation. Have fun with the envelopes; make the other person feel loved on this special day!

DIY gifts are cute and fun ways to show off your creativity. Most importantly have fun doing these gifts; picture their face when you give them your home-made present. It’s going to be even more important and valuable because you didn’t buy it at a store and no one else has the exact same thing, it’s unique.

A Moment for Mindfulness

Stop. Breathe. Take a second to look around you, notice your surroundings, and pay attention to all five senses. Are you sitting in bed, on a bus, or walking to meet a friend? Take in everything.

Yoga

Are you shivering, sweating, or just perfect? Is that smell coming from the kitchen making your stomach grumble in anticipation, tickling your nose with wafts of ajo y cebolla?  And your hands, where are they? Perhaps they are running through your tight curls, molding moist clay, or leafing through last month’s Vogue.
While that may have seemed like an odd exercise, deep, unbiased awareness of your surroundings is essential to a meditative practice known as mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of active awareness and openness to the present, without a conclusive judgment of the moment. Instead, in practicing mindfulness, one attempts to appreciate what is observed for the essence of what it is, rather than how subjectively “good” or “bad” it may be (Mayo Clinic).Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness Exercise

To explain, consider a dark, rainy, and windy day. For many, this description will seem dreary and depressing.  Now imagine walking into that rain — resist the urge to cringe. Feel the drops wet your skin, listen to the whistling wind and the rustling leaves, and smell the earthiness of rain. Stand still and just be. You have nowhere to go, no obligations to take you away from your commitment to enjoy yourself and nature in this moment. This practice of mindfulness transformed unpleasant weather into a profound moment of meditation and connection with yourself and nature.

“Mindfulness helps me connect to my body and the present. It helps reduce anxiety, creating a safe space in my mind. It makes my day brighter,” said Daniela Castillo, 22.

Now imagine doing the same activity on a bright, clear day, the sun warming your cheeks and the plush grass cushioning your tired feet. Or imagine sitting in your bed and letting every limb of your body sink into the worn quilt as you listen to the creaks of your sister’s footsteps and the rhythm of the kitchen. Mindfulness can be practiced any time and any place, as long as you are prepared to focus your mind to a state complete openness and non-judgment.

 To Your Health!

This ability to focus and disengage from your cluttered mind is not only useful, but physically and emotionally healthy. Dedicating a few moments every day for mindfulness not only lowers and prevents future stress, it minimizes the risk of depression and other mental health issues. Mindfulness also increases compassion and emotional warmth, and helps one enjoy a better night’s sleep. This prepares the meditator for a more healthy, kind and productive day (Psychological Science).

Amelia Henriquez, 21, said, “sometimes I need to just relax and feel the world around me. I want to see the colors around me as art, the smells as crazy perfumes, the sounds as songs. It puts me in a different mindset. I feel chill, at peace with it all.”

The best part about mindfulness is that it is absolutely free, and absolutely portable. No matter where you are, no matter how empty your wallet, you can take a few moments out of life’s dramas and anxieties to appreciate yourself and your environment while improving your health and outlook. It is as simple as turning off the judgmental voice in your head and soaking in this precious moment of life.

So the next time you are waiting to be picked up at school, look up and notice the way the clouds graze the sky. Listen to friends around you speaking in Spanish and notice how our language sounds like a song even when you don’t pay attention to the words. And when your mami picks you up, notice the warmth of her cheek as you kiss hello. This, amigas, is mindfulness.

Artsy Latinas Doing It Big

When your role model tells you that anything can happen, follow your dreams, work hard and they will come true, you begin to get the motivation to actually do something about your life. These women have found ways to follow their passions and make a business, living, and doing what they love. Three women, Dina Eden, Nancy Contreras, and Sandra Arlette, have made a business out of their craft, art and hard work. They are combining their abilities to create an awesome fashion trifecta. I had the pleasure of interviewing these ladies to find out who they are, what they do, and how they achieved it.

Dina Eden is the owner/ designer of Tree of Eden, an accessory boutique online and in Arlette, which is located in downtown El Paso. Dina has always had a thing for art and dabbled in a couple classes, but when she took ceramics, she knew it was a perfect fit. Dina states, “ I always wanted to do something with art, jewelry is a really good medium.” Dina was a supervisor for an accounting company but then had a car accident that caused her to have total amnesia.  She went back to basics and started using art, ceramic sculpture and jewelry making as therapy. Dina decided to sell some of her creations on ETSY this past November and was asked to sell some articles in the downtown boutique, Arlette. She began to show her jewelry at many private events around El Paso. She is currently in Hidalgo Mexico to expand her creative abilities. For example, pottery Dina States, “There are a bunch of clay deposits on the Ranch (in Mexico) to work on pottery.” Her greatest success is doing what she really loves with her small business. Dina states, “I would rather struggle with a small business then with something I don’t like.”  Her success ties into her struggle, while growing up in Juarez entrepreneurship wasn’t’ really advised. Dina’s advice was to try and self teach, “start early to get a feel for it; it’s all about confidence. There’s nothing to be scared of. It could turn into a really good business.” Dina also suggests to research small businesses and learn bookkeeping, or how to finance. There are many outlets to learn how to manage money, and it’s a very important part of the process.

Another contributor to Arlette boutique is Nancy’s online store, Ragazza Bazaar. Nancy grew up watching hermother make quinceañera dresses, homecoming mums and other formal attire, and later immersed herself in the fashion industry by becoming retail managers at various stores. She started surfing the web and realized she could gain endless possibilities by owning her own online store inspired by celebrity style. Her first business was started sola, then got some help from her sister who lives in San Diego. Nancy explained how she gained hands on experience in the fashion world by going to events and showing her work in fashion shows. Some obstacles Nancy overcame was through marketing, getting the word out, but networking worked for her. Nancy is very big on supporting her local community and wants to extend more opportunities for girls in El Paso. She is currently undergoing a social media promotion website that deals with supporting local businesses online, El Paso Style. Nancy advises, “continue to work hard to promote your talent and skill and create a portfolio. Never give up, even if you think you’re failing. It takes time, work and a lot of commitment.” She also advises to research resources of the craft, your audience and learn from other who are also successful.

Sandra Arlette is the owner of Arlette, a local boutique mainly housing jewelry, but also sells many other things by herself and other artists. A craftswoman from a very young age, Sandra had always wanted to delve into fashion design, but because her educational art options were somewhat slim she studied International business. Starting in 2005, Sandra kept her creativity on the side, she had an epiphany one afternoon when her accessory choices were not very promising. She began creating articles for herself and then began crafting more for others. Arlette’s businessbegan to pick up in 2009, she states, “It really was my passion, I could stay home for days doing nothing but designing!!” Finally, Sandra opened her own shop in 2012 with the help of her family and supporting boyfriend, after dedicating her post graduation to her home accessory business. Sandra hopes to keep doing what she loves forever and helping local artists, designers around El Paso be heard. Sandra’s advice to young Latinitasis to keep your head up, do your research, and don’t be discouraged by negative people. She says, “Keep doing what you love, do it right and better yourself, always share your talent and appreciate other’s too.” Sandra also advises to surround yourself with supportive and passionate companions, get an education, and if you’re set on your artistic career, start your investigation and research now!  Sandra has made a living out of her passion through heart and hard work, young girls/Latinas can also do the same with any talent.

All three women have recently begun their business journeys, and they’re going strong. These women have accomplished and learned so many things, and a common obstacle standing in their way is the overwhelming skepticism towards going local. Sandra Arlette says, “I think the greatest obstacle has been the lack of interest of the society in “handmade” products. I think we don’t appreciate it enough and we still think that handmade is cheap or has poor quality.” Arlette’s boutique has been going strong for a year now and hopefully El Paso can support their crafts and keep their dream alive.

Becoming a Media Superstar

María Elena Salinas, an inspiring role model for Latinas, has had an amazing career at the Spanish-language news station. María is a journalist from Los Angeles who has grown and developed throughout her career at Univision.

Being born and raised in California to two Mexican immigrants gives her the on-the-ground knowledge of several aspects of the Latina experience. Her hard work that has turned into successful reporting and shines light on the strength and resilience that every Latina embodies.

According to her page on Univision News’s Tumblr, Salinas “has interviewed every U.S. President since Jimmy Carter and has been face to face with dozens of Latin American heads of state, rebel leaders, and dictators.”

For entertainment, for relaxation, or for information, television channels are ready to connect with their audience. Latinos, in particular, are eager to immerse themselves into the discussion about current events.

Univision covers the news that Latinos in the United States want to know more about, and their ratings are constantly improving and breaking records.

As TV By the Numbers reports, “the Spanish-language network was the No. 1 broadcast network among Adults 18-49 on 38 nights in 2012.” Not only is Univision an option for those who would like to watch the news in Spanish, it is also grabbing the attention of coveted young viewers to watch and work behind the scenes.

Hard-hitting and professional reporting by the Univision team allows Latinos and other viewers to know that our community has a pulse–and a powerful one at that. If you are interested in pursuing a career in journalism or following in the footsteps of María, you can start immersing yourself in journalism by becoming an intern at a news station, taking back-stage tours of media stations, or even asking about shadowing opportunities.

Immerse Yourself

There are opportunities you can take a hold of to experience what goes on at their news stations. Victoria A. Perez interned at Univision’s station in El Paso, Texas. She carried out diverse tasks from answering phone calls to working with the cameras and news anchors. Her most rewarding moments included writing stories that were then broadcast on the weekend news programs.

To find out more about what internship opportunities are available, contact your local media stations or visit your school’s campus and see if they work out internship positions with students and your local Univision station.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Young Latinas are driven to be successful in social and professional situations. As strong chicas, little will get in the way of growing girls with determination and support on their side – so she can reach out and knock down life’s obstacles. There are some niñas out there who will find the reaching out part to be overwhelming. Seventeen year old, Destanee Saucedo describes how not being outgoing can cause her to “freak out” and think to herself “why can’t I talk?” when everyone else finds it easy being outgoing. Like Destanee, these girls are wallflowers; they are shy, and, whether you are an introvert or know someone who is, you know wallflowers have a lot to offer. It’s important to remember that when a young woman is shy it only means that her personality type is different from what’s considered the “ideal” social personality. According to a “Gentle Power: The Positive Psychology of Introversion,” the introvert, when driven by passion for what she is speaking up for, can “produce invaluable contributions, communities, and cultures.”  Introverts spend a lot of time absorbing the world around them, and as observers they save their words until they feel enough passion for what she is thinking to step outside of her comfort zone and be loud. When a shy girl speaks up, you better believe it’s because she has spent enough time in her head to decide that what she’s saying is important.

So how does a wallflower grow in a world that favors the outgoing? Here are few tips:

1. Think Small When Social. Being in large groups is often overwhelming for an introvert and going out of your way to plan hangouts in smaller groups might make it easier to feel comfortable. This means having real conversations instead of “small talk” and developing the intimate and real relationships shy girls tend to prefer. Planning a trip to the bookstore, a trip to a cafe, or a game night at home is a great way to spend time with a few friends without completely leaving your comfort zone.

Tip: Having that one friend who’s outgoing and makes you do things out of your comfort zone isn’t a bad idea. You never know what you could like until you try it with a little nudge from a friend. If your outgoing friend is forcing you to do something you’re not comfortable with at all, tell her to stop!

2. Make Time for “Nothing”.  Speaking up and being in large groups and busy settings can definitely tire a wallflower. Take little steps to getting out of your shell and recharge your batteries by finding time for yourself. Yes, chicas, this means that “doing nothing” is necessary. There is no shame in taking time to stay home every once in a while to daydream, work on hobbies, do chores, run errands or anything that gives you the alone time you need to balance social interactions.

3. Breathe When Your Brain Feels Busy. Introversion makes the brain busy and it’s important to be aware of this. Constant interior thinking can make it difficult to focus and makes your brain feel like it’s about to burst. Take time to pull yourself out of these situations and breathe. Feeling tired? Try taking a short breath in and take your time exhaling. Need to relax? Do the opposite and take a deep, slow breath in and breathe out quickly. This small act of mediation will do wonders within those moments you feel like your mind is working on overdrive.

4. Take a Moment to Step Out. In a busy setting it’s normal to want your “space,” so take a breather from the social gathering if your anxiety is at an all time high. Excusing yourself to go to the restroom can provide those minutes of recovery without interruption that just might get you through the day. You don’t have to make the bathroom your escape, use any area where you feel good enough to settle your nerves.

5. Be a Wallflower. Let’s face it, sometimes you have to go to that big event and talk to lots of people even though you might not want to. When you are in those situations, be yourself. If leaning against a wall to observe what’s going on around you or listening to the conversation more than adding to it is what you want to do, do it. More often than not, there will be another wallflower like yourself who feels just as nervous in the situation. Make sure you don’t lose your confidence simply because you’re quiet; you have lots to offer just by being yourself. Don’t cheat yourself out of social situations just because you think you won’t enjoy them. So, be you and trust yourself as a contributing chica in the world.

 

Latinas Leading the Fight Against Human Trafficking

While Blockbuster films and news media portray human trafficking as a problem that takes place across our oceans, many Latinas are working to shatter that myth and inform Americans that this criminal act exists near their schools and on their playgrounds.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 300 thousand children – of various ages, genders, classes, races and ethnicities – are trafficked for sex in the United States every year. This figure doesn’t reflect those trafficked for labor or the number of adults also being trafficked within the U.S.

Recognizing this exploitation, Latinas – young and old – are taking a stand against this modern form of slavery.  They are joining forces with other people and organizations to spread awareness, instill programs and laws that prevent trafficking and consul victims of sex slavery.

In Washington D.C., Dr. Carolina De Los Rios is serving as the Director of Client Services for the Polaris Project, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization.

She supervises case managers, social workers and fellows who work directly with victims of human trafficking. Her team provides survivors with counseling, emergency housing and more specialized assistance all intended to help and to rebuild their lives.

“Seeing survivors after you have helped them in an emergency situation is so rewarding,” De Los Rios said. “You’ve seen one of the worst moments of their lives, and then you see them after you and the team worked so hard – smiling, getting their GED, going to college. You see them thriving with their life, and then I know it makes sense what I’m doing.”

Del Los Rios, a Colombian, believes that being a Latina has given her a unique lens in her fight against trafficking.

“Being Latina makes me more aware about the challenges that you experience as a Latina, and it makes me more sensitive to the different challenges that women and girls experience,” Del Los Rios said.

She also said that although all young people are vulnerable to being recruited, Latinas who just immigrated to the U.S., who don’t speak the language and who don’t know how the system works here, may be in an even more vulnerable position.

Public interest attorney Norma Ramos understands that vulnerability firsthand.

The now executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) was once a child in New York’s foster care system.

“I always felt a strong sensitivity about human beings who are being commercially and sexually exploited,” said Ramos. “I felt that that could have so easily been me – I still feel that way.”

At CATW, the world’s first organization to fight human trafficking internationally, Ramos raises awareness about human trafficking and promotes the Nordic model – laws that penalize the demand for commercial sex and decriminalize victims of the commercial sex industry – as an approach to combat human trafficking.

“When a country passes the Nordic model, I’m very happy,” said Ramos. “Norway passed the Nordic model, then Iceland followed. These were ‘break out the champagne’ moments for me.”

Ramos, who is Puerto Rican, also hopes to encourage young people and Latinas to take a stand against injustice.

“The world has too little political courage; it’s the No. 1 disappointment for me when I see people not risk something in order to change and end a social injustice.”

A few hundred miles east of Ramos is a young Latina in Connecticut whose political courage would make Ramos very proud.

Ana Alarcon is a high school senior and anti-human trafficking advocate.

The 17-year-old Colombian recently traveled to Washington D.C. for the National Youth Summit on Abolition, where she was a panelist alongside human trafficking experts like Wesleyan University professor Lois A. Brown, founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation Kenneth Morris Jr., and U.S. Ambassador in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Luis CdeBaca.

As a young Latina, Alarcon’s voice and perspective was very unique at the event.

“It feels very empowering as a young person and as a female and as a Latina. There are generally a lot of men in this field,” Alarcon said. “I feel like I could give a voice to different groups, I feel honored, and I feel like I could give other people a sense of ‘you can do this, too.’”

The young Latina hopes to continue her advocacy beyond high school. She was recently accepted into Fordham University, where she will be studying international relations.

“Human trafficking is just a link to so many world issues – poverty, drugs, abuse – it’s all interconnected. If I can stop one thing, it will be a chain reaction to cause peace somewhere else,” Alarcon said.

Like Ramos, Alarcon also wants girls her age to be courageous.

“If you want to do anything, you could absolutely do it. Just because you’re a girl, a minority or you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do something important or be someone important,” Alarcon said.

If interested in connecting with anti-human trafficking services near you or to obtain free training materials to help you with your advocacy, visit: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/the-nhtrc/overview.

 

Five Fresh Summer Hairstyles

Summer – school is out and experimenting with hair styles is in. From messy braids to flower crowns, the key to fresh summer hair is to mix it up.

One thing about summer hair is clear:  The “ombre” hairstyle is out.

“You walk down the halls and everyone has hair that goes from brown to blonde,” says 17-year-old Destanee.

Even though fierce ladies from Ciara to Jennifer Lopez still rock the gradient hairstyle, here are some tips for fresh, new summer looks.

Twist and turn

Update braids for summer by aiming for less than perfection.  Here are some quick steps to get a unique, messy, side braid:

1.      Take all of your hair to one side and divide it into three parts

2.      Loosely braid the middle section and “mess-it-up” by gently pulling the hair to make the braid look loose

3.      Now take the other sections and begin braiding your side braid (the middle section will be the messy braid you just made)

4.      Now, “mess-up” your side braid by gently pulling the hair out of the braid. This will create the “messy” feel.

Viola!  In a few easy steps you have made a romantic, braid-within-a-braid look.

Take cover

Photo from keikolynn.com

Summer heat can mean harsh rays on new summer dos.  To protect hair from the summer sun, re-purpose fall scarves into colorful head wraps.

Here are a few steps on how to make a sassy bow with your head scarf:

1.      Place the middle of the scarf on your hairline, taking one end in each hand

2.      Wrap each end around your head, crossing each side at the back of the head

3.      Bring the ends back up to the front and make a bow to the right of the center of the hairline

4.      Tuck the ends under the bow and fluff to perfection

Hair illusions

Rubi, 13-years-old, and Fernanda, 14-years-old, nodded in agreement to short hair as an up-and-coming summer fad.  But for those who are not ready to commit to short hair, the faux bob is here to help.

Here are some steps to get the runway-ready faux bob:

1.      Divide you hair into a top and bottom section

2.      Braid the bottom section into two braids and pin them diagonally to the bottom of your head

3.      With the top section, make a low and loose low ponytail

4.      Tuck the ponytail under, pinning it to the braids underneath for security

 

Top it off

This look is a style that is chic in any season – the top bun.  The do-it-yourself internet community took this style to a new level of popularity with tutorials on how to create the top bun using only parts of a sock and an elastic band. Here’s how:

Photo from dxpnet.com

1.      Find a lonely sock, the thicker the better, that more or less matches your hair color

2.      With scissors, cut the foot off of the sock, leaving the sock straight and open at both ends

3.      From one end, roll the sock down making a donut shape

Now you have your own, hand-made, donut that you can use to make the perfect bun. Here’s how:

1.      Make a high ponytail and pull your hair through your sock donut

2.      Spread your hair evenly around the sock donut

3.      Tuck or pin the excess hair around the donut

Now you have your very own timeless top bun.

Flower power

“Flower crowns are the new trend,” says 17-year-old Janette.  “You can use real flowers or fake flowers.”

Whether you clip petals from your garden or find silk flowers at a local craft store like, flower crowns are the summer answer to winter headbands.  This youthful trend is blooming on runways, red carpets, and on do-it-yourself websites. Here’s what you will need:

1.      5-10 assorted silk flowers

2.      Wire

3.      Pliers and

4.     Scissors

5.      Tape (painter’s, masking, or packing tape)

Making your floral crown:

1.      Make a circle with the wire large enough to fit your head

2.      Cut the silk flowers, leaving around 1-2 inches of stem

3.      Using pliers or your hand, wrap the flower stems around the wire crown

4.      Tape the ends of any wires sticking out so you don’t poke your head or hands

In a few minutes you have made your very own, trendsetting, flower crown.

With personal takes on these looks, you are ready to make waves with your fresh, new summer styles.

Clardy Fox Club Leader Testimonial Spring 2013

I lead a club at Clardy Fox Public Library, I enjoyed leading this group of energetic girls. The girls never ran out of things to say and we had many funny and interesting conversations. We wrote journals and designed art posters for body image, college, mother’s day, and Women’s History Month. They have taken many photographs of each other holding up their empowerment posters and posing in different kinds of yoga moves for the healthy living lesson. They wrote letters to the fire department as part of their community service project. The healthy living lesson was my favorite activity because the girls enjoyed having some physical activity and practicing yoga moves. My favorite memory was when we did the healthy friendship lesson where I had two girls whom are best friends vent out their friendship issues. Through the lesson, they were able to hear each other out and put it behind them. In the club, the girls learned to respect each other and to help each other out. The club will help them become leaders and think for themselves and not let anyone else take charge of them. As a club leader, I have learned to become a better listener and motivator for the girls and for myself.

-Bianca Castrejon

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