Young Art Exhibit at La Casita

By Ricardo Loubriel

Boys and girls from our community present their new collection of paintings and drawings at the Young Art 2019 exhibition at La Casita Cultural Center. The opening reception will take place on Saturday, April 27 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. This event is free and open to the community. The exhibit will remain on view through June 14.

All the works were produced during the workshops of El Punto Art Studio last February. Two artists from our own community who exhibited their own art in the Cuba exhibition this year, Sanlly and Dalgis Viera, facilitated the workshops that produced this colorful art installation.

In addition to the exhibit, the young talents in La Casita’s music programs will perform live on the piano, violin and guitar as part of the opening celebration. Syracuse University students from the Setnor School of Music were the music instructors this year: Aleksandre Roderick-Lorenz (violin), Mia Tsai (piano) and Sebastian Escribano (guitar).


The young authors of La Casita’s Dual Language Reading Circles, will also be featured at this event. The program will release a new storybook in English and Spanish with an original story by the participants. This is the fourth edition produced by the program, edited by Margot Clark and Tere Paniagua. Olivia Flores, a Political Sciences sophomore at S.U., coordinated and facilitated the reading workshops.

All programs in arts, music and language arts education involve the participation of children from the local Latino communities locally and near Syracuse. The programs are offered at no cost to participants. During the school year, workshops include drawing and painting, bomba and plena dance and drumming, piano, violin, guitar and activities that combine the arts and sciences, facilitated by Ashley Jimenez and her group of engineering students from S.U.

Tere Paniagua, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community, an SU initiative, is in charge of managing La Casita.
“We are extremely proud of our youth’s accomplishments and deeply grateful for the commitment of our partners and sponsors on and off the Syracuse University campus,” said Paniagua. “The dedication and contribution of SU students volunteering in support of our programs and our children is invaluable and extremely positive.”


The Young Art exhibit is a project of La Casita Cultural Center in collaboration with the Point of Contact Gallery, the Spanish Action League, and the Partners in Learning Manos pre-school program. Support for these program comes from the College of Arts & Sciences at Syracuse University, Mercy Works, Molina Healthcare and Wegmans. This program is supported by funding from the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA).

Your Stories, Your Library

La Casita’s Bilingual Library is a vital resource for the education programs at the Center. Your Stories, Your Library is a new campaign to raise awareness and support from the community for the work of the library. The bilingual library offers an interactive, program-driven space where students, researchers and community members of all ages learn about U.S. Latino and Latin American literatures and cultures. To support this initiative, please contact La Casita: Tel. 315-443-2151 or email: lacasita@syr.edu.

La Casita is located at 109 Otisco St. Syracuse, NY 13204.

Young Art Exhibit Photo Descriptions

Young Art Exhibit_01 -“Artist Sanlly Viera working with two children at the El Punto Art Studio”
Young Art Exhibit_02 – “Two children working on artwork during the El Punto Art Studio”
Young Art Exhibit_03 – “Young girl working on artwork during the El Punto Art Studio”
Young Art Exhibit_04 – “Young girl and her artwork at the El Punto Art Studio”
Young Art Exhibit_05 – “Painting made by students in the El Punto Art Studio”
Young Art Exhibit_06 -“Painting made by students in the El Punto Art Studio”

17 years of war

A view from inside Kabul, Afghanistan 17 years of war
by Juan Carlos Salcedo

Afghanistan is a mountainous country in Central Asia with a history and a culture that goes back more than 5000 years. Today, Afghanistan is in a disastrous state: the economy is in ruins, its people are dying of war and famine, and its neighbors are taking advantage of its instability. There have been 3 great world powers that tried unsuccessfully to exercise their power through occupation. The last version was and is the USA in the war against the Taliban from 2001 to the present day.

This time we have a special guest, who will help us understand Afghanistan with Afghan eyes, from Kabul Afghanistan Abdulah Ahmadzai.

Latina Leaders – WISE Latina 2019

Join us at this year’s WISE Latina session, “Latina Leaders Expanding the Definition of Health”

Date: April 25th, 2019
Time: 12:00 – 1:30pm
Location: Sky Armory

WISE Latina 2019 Featured Speaker is Carmen M. Peña, M.A., Coach & Motivational Speaker

Join fellow Latina professionals and entrepreneurs from throughout New York State at this year’s WISE Latina Conference at the WISE Symposium. Bright and successful mujeres from Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Utica and New York City will be attending, and we’re excited to host you too. Our 2019 program will feature a prominent Latina who is Leading the way and expanding the definition of health. She will guide attendees in creating a plan to live a life that is Meaningful to them and impacts their families, their communities, their businesses and the world around them. This year’s event will offer reflections on both personal and business growth, while offering practical tips and tools for becoming Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise.

This year’s focus is on the personal search to expanding the definition of health within in order to find Physical, Mental, Emotional and Financial Health, and the wisdom to lead the way. We will creatively encourage women to seek out practical ways to launch successful business enterprises through which they can positively impact their own sustainability as well as that of their communities. We’re looking forward to seeing you at this year’s session. All women are bienvenidas.

Carmen’s solution-oriented, positive approach will help us discover how to form healthy habits that lead us to achieve our goals. She will be speaking on self-empowerment, mindfulness, and how to transform into the best version of ourselves. The intention is to have Latinas leave the event feeling good, with increased confidence and a clearer vision of the action steps necessary to get to the next level of their dreams and goals successfully.

For price and to view the full WISE SYMPOSIUM agenda go to www.wisesyracuse.com or read more about WISE Latina at www.wiselatina.org

ALL WISE LATINA ATTENDEES CAN ATTEND THE ENTIRE SYMPOSIUM WITH THEIR TICKET.

TICKETS FOR OUR SESSION ARE COORDINATED VIA MARISOL HERNANDEZ, WHO COORDINATES WITH THE SKY ARMORY TO SECURE OUR GROUP’S ENTRY. PLEASE EMAIL MARISOL AT MHERNANDEZ@WISELATINA.ORG TO SECURE YOUR WISE LATINA & SYMPOSIUM TICKET TODAY!

WISE Latina ticket includes full access to the WISE Symposium (8:00am to 5:30pm) continental breakfast, lunch, breakout sessions and cocktail party. The WISE Symposium is an event produced by The Events Company in partnership with WISE Women’s Business Center and SKY Armory. WISE Symposium ticket holders can attend WISE Latina at lunch time without additional expense.

Want to know more? We’ll share the WISE Symposium speaker’s full bios in our next update and on our Facebook Event Page!

We want to hear from you! Before and during the event, please Tweet out your pictures, saludos and responses using the WISE Latina Hashtags:

#wiselatina2019 or #wiselatina or #wise2019

Are you a Spanish speaker? We will offer FREE Spanish translation throughout the event so you can enjoy the conference, even if Spanish is your first, preferred or only language.

From Havana to Spain with Joaquin Rodrigo

by Ana Maria Ruimonte

There wasn’t a green finch; I couldn’t see the waterbird, nor the pine forest nor the Castilian fields of grain… but, among the palms and the flourishing trees I saw a little hummingbird flying from flower to flower and moving its wings so fast. I couldn’t hear his singing, but the flute of Zorimé sounded to me like a green finch in the heart of Havana.

The guitar of Luis transported me from the leafy and green parks of Vedado to the gardens of the Palace of Aranjuez, and its fountains with sculptures of the 17th century; and with the clarinet of Monterrey and the flute of Alberto, I believed I had found myself suddenly on the outskirts of a little Castilian town in Valladolid, walking along the Duero River…

With the guitar of Galy, I imagined myself to be in a house with a patio, and in the patio a water well, while I was waiting for my love. When he finally arrived, about the third madrigal, I asked him where he had been, and he responded that he had been walking in the trees along the river…

I could see through the music how a shepherd took his flock of sheep around the walled castle of Torrelobatón, that had high towers of stone and surrounding it a deep mote, which I imagined it had been full of water with crocodiles and other dangerous animals in a time in the past, but now, it was dry for lack of rain…

With the piano of Huberal, I mysteriously appeared in the pine forest of Simancas, and I could hear the cuckoo bird which was hiding among the pines… Where are you, cuckoo? Where are you? And going musically hand in hand with Rodrigo toward eastern Spain, we arrived at a small town on the coast in Valencia. We could see high and far away an Arabic tower, that was lone, lost and abandoned nowadays, but I imagined a Moor there, looking out for the arrival of an invading boat, a long time ago…

But we really were in Centro Havana… Children running and playing in the wide streets among the broken cobblestones, a knife-sharpening-man and the ice cream-man passing while I was singing, and the fan overhead essential for that intense tropical heat… The ceiling of the house of Huberal is very high and there are big windows to the street, too, and his piano is gigantic, full of memories topped with awards and flowers, and hanging on the wall medals and certificates for his life dedicated to music in Cuba… The juices of tamarind and guava, the garapiña he made himself, and the yoghurt refreshed us and were really delicious… No better place and no better taste than there!

And between juices and fans, and tropical gardens, Joaquín Rodrigo in the countryside of Castilia and Valencia appeared and disappeared as the cuckoo bird in the pine trees on the mountains of Avila…

With Alejandro’s cello I felt like I was in an inn in La Mancha on a dark night, and I thought I saw don Alonso Quijada in his horse – he was then known as the caballero Don Quixote… And several minutes later hearing the piano of Mayté I found myself in a street in Madrid in a Spring afternoon, and the street was full of people with happy faces and lit by a yellow-orange light. But, it was a surprise when singing the Sephardic songs with odd scales full of accidentals and completely different intervals that captured our attention.

There, in Havana, how could it be possible that those scores by Joaquín Rodrigo could take us to so many diverse parts of beautiful Spain and to nostalgic times with friendly people? Only by means of his music: The songs of Joaquín Rodrigo.

Ana María Ruimonte, Spanish-American soprano, collaborates with the best Cuban musicians in the new CD “Con Rodrigo en Cuba” to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Rodrigo’s death. Released by Owlsong and available on CD Baby, and Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and most other platforms. www.owlsong.com, www.ruimonte.us.

The photos of the group of musicians and the CD face are courtesy of Jorge Cruz.
The photos of El Maestro and Ana Maria in the beach are courtesy of Pedro Abascal

Starting Out in CNY:

Starting Out in CNY: A Conversation about the Experience of Immigrants in the Region
by Maximilian Eyle

The Hispanic population in New York State has been steadily growing. Today, Hispanics represent nearly 20% of the State’s overall populous and are having a growing impact
on the social and political culture of the region. One key driver is that our state is particularly welcoming to immigrants. While New York City has a long history of diversity, Central New York is now a primary destination for immigrants starting a new life in the United States. In this interview with Ivette Cruz Barsó, we explore what the area has to offer and what new arrivals can expect.

Ivette is a petite and attractive Cubana in the midst of her third year in the United States. She lives in a cozy apartment near Syracuse’s downtown. Ivette arrived here from Havana and is currently earning her Master’s degree in Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture from Syracuse University. I met with her to discuss her impressions of Central New York, and to see what advice she has for people who are just arriving.

M: What was your impression of Central New York before you arrived?

I: I had never heard about Syracuse or CNY. It was through the refugee program that I learned about it – when I found out that I had the option to come here. It looked like a very American place from the pictures I saw, especially compared to Miami. The refugee program warned me that it would be cold, with lots of snow, and that I should have good winter clothes. Since they didn’t tell me much else except about the bad weather, I was worried.

M: Has your opinion changed? What do you think of it now that you’ve had a chance to get settled?

I: After three years, I can say that it’s a great place for immigrants – there is a lot of support from the local government. The problem is that the anti-immigrant position of the federal government has lowered the amount of help that can be found here. I’ve seen local organizations shut down or stop certain services because they lost federal funding. But the local attitude is very supportive. I read about anti-immigrant discrimination in other parts of the country, but I never encounter it here.

M: How did you first find out about what opportunities were available here?

I: The social workers were very helpful in getting me my papers and setting me up with a place to live. There was a great support system in dealing with the local government and other local resources. I was able to find English classes and help with preparing for job interviews. I also received tips about general living in New York State.

M: What are the best things about living here? The worst things?

I: I love the pace of the city – very relaxed. The cost of living is low too, so you can work, study, and have fun without constantly thinking about money. I think other cities are much more financially stressful. There are a lot of cultural opportunities here too. The first thing I found was Argentine tango. I met a lot of very nice local people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise there.

M: What advice would you give to people who have recently settled in the region?

I: Because the city is laid back, it’s easier to pursue your goals. Education is accessible too, but learning English is a very important skill to develop in order to access the resources here. Fortunately, the relaxed rhythm of the city gives you time to do those things.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.

Oswego’s Lizette Alvarado named SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute fellow

by SUNY Oswego Office of Communications and Marketing

Lizette Alvarado of SUNY Oswego is one of 14 leaders from across the state recently named to the second-ever class of fellows at SUNY’s Hispanic Leadership Institute by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Associate director of Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs, Alvarado was one of 14 SUNY leaders announced in January as part of the 2019 class for the institute, which is charged with developing and supporting the next generation of executive-level Hispanic/LatinX leaders across the SUNY system.

Lizette Alvarado.
SUNY Oswego
01/28/2019

“We do have a shortage of Latinos in leadership positions,” said Alvarado, who came to SUNY Oswego in 2001 as a study-abroad program coordinator. “I’m very humbled by this leadership development opportunity and eager to represent the interests of Latino leaders throughout SUNY, as well as the college.”

Alvarado already has begun working with the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) and the other fellows. Meetings at SUNY’s SAIL (Strategic, Academic and Innovative Leadership) retreat in the Carey Institute in Rensselaer recently kicked off an intensive six-month experience of in-person and independent learning activities designed to support the fellows’ leadership growth.

“New York is strongest when we celebrate our diversity, and with programs like the Hispanic Leadership Institute, we can support some of the most dedicated leaders across the SUNY system,” Governor Cuomo said. “Congratulations to the incoming class of Fellows who will no doubt take the skills and knowledge they gain through this program to make a positive impact throughout the state.”

‘Prestigious, worthwhile’

That’s the goal for Alvarado and SUNY Oswego, said Joshua McKeown, associate provost for international education and programs.

“I nominated her for this prestigious and worthwhile program based on many years as her colleague and supervisor,” McKeown wrote in a letter of support for Alvarado’s fellowship. “Lizette is a hard-working and conscientious person. She believes in herself and the power of both education and study abroad. She has risen steadily over her career to the position of associate director in my department, and this opportunity is coming at an ideal time for her.”

McKeown noted Alvarado has not previously had the kind of leadership development experience that HLI provides, though she has demonstrated the capacity to lead for years, including developing the college’s much-honored “I, Too, Am Study Abroad” program and other efforts to diversify the study-travel population and their experiences.

“I would like for her to grow and develop professionally so as to help SUNY Oswego and our department, and also take that next step personally toward becoming an ever-stronger leader and colleague,” he wrote.

Though she has experience in administration and supervision, Alvarado said her initial encounter with the fellows showed that “this experience is more personal. You have to dig deeper to define who you are and where you want to go both personally and professionally.”

In her role at Oswego, Alvarado coordinates semester and summer programs in Ghana, Japan, Latin America, South America and Spain. She also provides leadership in the campus’ effort that provides opportunities for more than 400 students to participate in over 80 academic programs in 30 countries.

Success story

The daughter of migrant workers, Alvarado was born in the United States, but her parents returned to their native Puerto Rico before coming back to live in the Fulton area when she was 13. “I had no words in English,” said Alvarado. “An ESL (English as a second language teacher) helped us out. It took me a year to a year and half before I felt comfortable speaking.”

Alvarado went on to graduate from Oswego High School, SUNY Cortland and, with a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, from University at Buffalo.

The HLI offers six- and 12-month fellowships to SUNY Hispanic/LatinX faculty and staff in leadership positions throughout SUNY, including provosts, chief academic officers, chief business officers and others.

The fellows will attend a mid-term gathering in Albany this April and a closing retreat at SUNY’s Executive Leadership Academy in New York City in June. Additionally, they will attend group videoconferences to discuss articles and emerging issues, and undertake a scholarly/applied-learning project that supports their development as a leader in higher education.

For more information about international education and programs at SUNY Oswego, visit oswego.edu/international.

PHOTO CAPTION: ‘Humbled, eager’ — Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Lizette Alvarado, associate director of SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs, one of 14 Hispanic Leadership Institute fellows for 2019 from across the State University system.

The Spanish translation will be provided in the April edition of CNY Latino newspaper and here, check back with us the first week of April 2019…

La traducción al Español será publicada en la edición de Abril del periódico CNY Latino y aquí, regrese la primera semana de Abril 2019 para leerla…

I was the lucky one

by Tymothy Parmenter

I was adopted from Tegucigalpa Honduras at age 7. I had left behind my mother, my sister as well as grandparents, aunts, uncles and many cousins. I was headed to the United States, the land of dreams; a country where many of my friends and family had wished to go. I was the lucky one.

I remember saying goodbye to my sister, I remember the park where I would play as a child. I remember the church I attended, the stray dogs, the large Coca Cola sign on the side of the mountain, and many other things. What I remember most about my last days in Honduras was the plane flight. It was my first time on an airplane and I was doing it alone. I wasn’t completely alone as my adoptive mother and new sister were with me, but they were essentially strangers at that point. I had only met my new mother once and that was 6 months prior. My new sister spoke Spanish which was helpful but again, I felt alone.

The day I left was May 15, 1991. The plane flight was long and we had a layover in Miami. From there my sister boarded a plane to Washington DC and my mother and I flew to Syracuse NY. My mother knew only a couple of words in Spanish so it was a quiet trip. Upon my arrival to Syracuse, I was greeted by the rest of my family. My new parents had made a pledge to make the world a better place by adopting children in need. That being said I was welcomed by my new, very diverse family. My parents had 11 kids in total, 8 or which were adopted.

I remember arriving at my new home for the first time. My grandmother, who was my care taker for the most part, had called and I told her that I was at my new home with my new family. It was one of the last times I spoke with her. Communication with the family I had left behind started off with a few phone calls for the first couple of months to almost nothing. I knew that making a phone call for them was difficult. We were poor, we had no phone. The internet was not an option early on and I had no way of reaching out. Not only that, the language that I knew as a child became obsolete. No one in my family, my school, my neighborhood spoke Spanish so I forgot it. I forgot the words, the phrases, the pronunciation of the words, I lost it all.

I grew up as an American kid from the suburbs. I attended school, played sports, went to prom. I did everything my peers did and more. I graduated High School, went to college, started off on my own and had my own family. My life in Honduras was a distant memory at this point. Though I thought of my mother and sister often, I knew nothing about them. I didn’t know where they were, I didn’t know what they looked like, I didn’t even know if they were ok.

It was about April of 2017 when my spouse Kay asked if I was interested in finding my family in Honduras. I had said that I had tried using the internet before but had gotten nowhere. All that I could remember was my sister’s name, Lupe and my mothers, Rena and that they were in Tegucigalpa. Other than that I had nothing else but a few photos of my last days in Honduras. Kay, being a social media guru, got to work and quickly found a missionary who was originally from Kansas and was now living in Tegucigalpa that was willing to help me locate my family. Kay told her my story and sent a photo of me on my last day in Honduras. My house was in the background in the distance but I always remembered which one it was.

With my picture and my story, the missionary was able to find the very street where the picture was taken, 27 years prior. There she asked a tortilla vendor if she knew how to get to the house which had been circled in the background. The tortilla vendor not only knew the house, she also knew the family that used to live there. She pointed at me in the picture and said, “and that is the little boy they gave up for adoption years ago”.

The tortilla vendor took the missionary to the neighborhood where the house was and introduced her to my aunt and my mother. She took out my picture, showed it to them and tears of joy overtook them all. They had been searching for me for many years but had not known where or how to look. My great grandmothers had passed a few months prior to this day and her dying words were, “find Giovanni” my original birth name.

I had gotten home from work and I was in the kitchen with Kay and my kids when her phone started ringing. Kay was making dinner and I was playing with the kids so we both ignored it but it wouldn’t stop. We looked to see who it was and it was the missionary facetiming us. Being completely ignorant to the nature of her call I told Kay to answer, maybe it’s something important.

Again being oblivious to what was going on I went back to play with my kids and left Kay with the phone. She calls me from the other room to come see and I said, this better be important. I took the phone and there was the missionary. She said, I’d like to introduce you to your mother.

Reconnecting with my family was indescribable. I didn’t recognize my mother. My first words to Kay were, that’s not my mom, that’s my grandmother. Taken completely by surprise by the turn of events it had slipped my mind that 27 years had passed since I laid eyes on the woman who gave me life, whom I had cherished and adored. That night was an eventful night to say the least. I spent hour’s facetiming my family. To my surprise I had four additional siblings I knew nothing about. Lupe however was nowhere to be found. To my delight and amazement I was told that she had been living in Miami for the past 10 years.

I wanted to take the time to go to Miami and visit my sister. I finally got the chance in June of 2018 almost a year after reconnecting with my family. At this time it had been 28 years since I had seen her last. We weren’t close when we were kids, that I do remember but as adults I look back our sibling rivalry as childish and immature. I arrived to Miami late on a Friday evening. Nerves should have gotten the best of me at this point but I was calm and collected. This was a surreal moment but for me it felt natural and pure.

The drive from Fort Lauderdale to Miami was about thirty minutes and when I arrived I texted her that I was there. I walked to the front door, it swung open and there on the other side was the face of the little girl I remembered. She had aged and matured and her eyes were motherly and kind but her expressions were just as I remembered. She wepted as we embraced and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was greeted by her two eldest daughters at the door, nieces whom I have never met but had had conversations with through facebook. With my minimal Spanish skills and their equivalent English skills we conversed for hours. We talked about our childhood, we reminisced about the family and friends I had left behind. We caught up on what had gone on in our lives, about school, our kids, everything.

I was able to spend the weekend with her and her family, it all felt natural as if we were just catching up. Needless to say Miami is a beautiful city and a fun town and we definitely took advantage by spending the entire weekend together sightseeing, going down town, and going to the beach. It was a beautiful weekend, one that I will never forget. As my time reconnecting with my family came to an end I realized that I felt complete again. My life has circled back to my origins and the realization of who I really was and where my roots were was a humbling experience.

I now keep in contact with all five of my brothers and sisters. I hope to make it to Honduras to visit someday to embrace my mother again and to finally meet my brothers and sisters, hopefully in the near future. My family and I are all set to visit my sister and her family during the Holidays in Miami this year. It will be the first time that my sister gets to meet her nieces and nephews. I am excited to unite our families.