CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 25, 2000
UI conference Nov. 3-4 to focus on Latino affairs in Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Community leaders, social workers, educators, and others
who offer services to Iowa's growing Hispanic population will gather at the
University of Iowa Saturday, Nov. 4 for a conference on "Strengthening
and Valuing Latino/a Communities in Iowa."
The conference will be from 8:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union
and includes workshops on a variety of topics including working with Latino
families, health and human services for immigrants, use of translators and
interpreters, and educating English language learners.
"The conference will emphasize culture as a strength that can be used
to improve services to the Latino community," said John-Paul Chaisson,
a conference organizer and staff member in the UI School of Social Work. "In
addition, it is designed to help Latino and Latina leaders gain the skills
and networks that they need in order to take active leadership roles in their
During the conference, Chaisson who also serves as chair of the Governor's
Commission on Latino Affairs, and Sandra Sanchez, executive director of the
American Friends Service Committee, will lead a multimedia-interactive activity
focusing on immigration. In addition, Kathryn Ellis, principal deputy director
of the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, will speak about civil rights of immigrants using health and human
services. Charles L. Perez, child welfare manager with the Colorado Division
of Child Welfare, will speak about changing the system from within.
The conference registration fee is $60 with a reduced rate of $25 for students.
Opportunity at Iowa and the UI Office of Admissions have organized a one-day
pre-conference Friday, Nov. 3 at the IMU. Nearly 100 Latino high school students
from around the state will meet in Iowa City for a day of workshops, tours,
and social activities. Some 28 of the students have received scholarships
to participate in Saturday's conference. In addition to conference activities,
these students will also be offered a three-hour ACT preparation course. For
more information on the youth pre-conference, call Adele Rodriguez at (319)
In conjunction with the conference, the Governor's Commission on Latino
Affairs will hold a Latino Awards Banquet to honor Iowa's outstanding Latino
leaders. Three Latino Leadership Awards and one Latino Youth Leadership Award
will be given at the banquet. Lt. Gov. Sally J. Pederson will give the keynote
address at the luncheon ceremony, which is scheduled for 12:15 - 2 p.m. in
the Richey Ballroom at the IMU.
The conference culminates with the fourth annual Day of the Dead celebration,
organized by a group of volunteers from school districts, social service agencies,
and businesses in Iowa City, West Liberty, and Columbus Junction. Day of the
Dead is a Mexican tradition rooted in the ancient Aztec belief that death
is not an end, but a stage in an endless cycle much like the seasons. Death
was not to be dreaded because it was not seen as final. When the Spanish brought
Catholicism to Mexico, the two religions combined to create a unique blending
of rituals and beliefs including
"Dia de los Muertos," Day of the Dead, which coincides with the
Catholic feasts of All Saints and All Souls.
A group of faculty, staff and students in the UI School of Social Work who
wanted to help build relationships with Latinos living in and around Iowa
City and create a better understanding of Mexican culture among social work
students and local residents initiated the Day of the Dead tradition in Iowa
City in 1997. This year's celebration will be at Old Brick, 26 E. Market St.,
beginning at 7 p.m. and will include community art, music, and other entertainment.
Tickets are $10. For more information call Bob VanderBeek at (319) 335-1250.
"Strengthening and Valuing Latino/a Communities in Iowa" is sponsored
by a number of UI groups including the School of Social Work, the Office of
Admissions, Opportunity at Iowa, the College of Education, the Office of Affirmative
Action, the Office of Financial Aid, the Women's Resource and Action Center,
the Women In Science and Engineering Program, and Sigma Lambda Gamma. Additional
sponsors include the Governor's Commission on Latino Affairs, the Iowa Department
of Education, the Iowa Department of Public Health, University of Northern
Iowa, Cornell College, Kirkwood Community College, National Resource Center
for Family Centered Practice, United Action for Youth, American Friends Service
Organization, Day of the Dead Committee, and Sabor Latino.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of
Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires
an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Kate
Kemp in advance at 319-335-1254.