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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 1, 2005

Alumnus, Journalist Contreras To Highlight Hispanic Heritage Month

Franc Contreras, a University of Iowa alumnus and Latin America correspondent for the public radio news program "The World," will kick off the university's Hispanic Heritage Month activities when he speaks on Thursday, Sept. 15.

Contreras' speech, "Crossing Borders: One Correspondent's Personal Journeys in Latin America," begins at 2 p.m. in Room 101 in the Becker Communications Building. Admission is free and open to the public. Following his lecture, Contreras will attend a kick-off reception for Hispanic Heritage Month in the Latino and Native American Cultural Center, 308 Melrose Ave.

Contreras studied for his Master's degree in journalism at UI and worked for radio station WSUI-AM as a student. He has reported from Latin America since 1996 with his stories appearing not only on The World but also on NPR, the BBC, CBC Radio and other news organizations.

Contreras covered Mexico's historic presidential election in 2000, which ended 71 years of one-party rule. He has reported from each of Mexico's 31 states, providing analysis of the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, indigenous rights and cultures in Oaxaca, drug trafficking in western Sinaloa state and he has covered immigration along the U.S./Mexico border with a special focus on human rights.

Contreras has also reported on the 2003 presidential elections in Guatemala, the coffee crisis in Nicaragua and produced a special series of reports leading up to the historic hand-over of the Panama Canal in 2000. Contreras was also in Caracas, Venezuela, to cover a violent national strike in 2002 by Venezuelans opposed to President Hugo Chavez, and he covered the historic referendum vote on the Chavez presidency.

Other Hispanic Heritage Month events include:

--Thursday, Sept. 1, through Saturday, Sept.  3. Duarte Dance Works performs "Quatro," choreographed by Armando Duarte, UI professor of dance. 8 p.m., North Hall. $12 general admission; $6 for UI students; free for children under 12. Tickets available at Iowa Memorial Union box office. For ticket information call 319-335-3041.

--Thursday, Sept.  8 through Wednesday, Sept.  14. "Machuca." Set in Chile in the autumn of 1973, this film is a coming-of-age tale against the backdrop of political upheaval. Spanish, with English subtitles. Times vary. Bijou Theatre, Iowa Memorial Union. For screen times and ticket information call 319-335-3045.

--Saturday, Sept.  24. Plena Libre, a Puerto Rican big band, performs its African-tinged music. 7:30 p.m., Hancher Auditorium. Ticket prices vary. For ticket information call the Hancher box office at 319-335-1160.

--Monday, Sept.  26. Gregory Rabassa, considered the greatest translator of his time and credited with giving the great Latin American writers their English language, appears on Live from Prairie Lights. 7 p.m., Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St. Free.

--Wednesday, Sept.  28. "Beyond the Bachelor's Degree." A discussion session for undergraduate students interested in furthering their education in graduate or professional school. 6 p.m., Latino and Native American Cultural Center, 308 Melrose Ave. Pizza and pop will be provided.

--Wednesday, Oct. 5. "Beyond the Bachelor's Degree."

--Thursday, Oct 6. Jose Porcel, Flamenco ballet dancer. 7:30 p.m., Hancher Auditorium. Ticket prices vary. For ticket information contact the Hancher box office at 319-335-1160.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,