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High Schoolers Learn Research Techniques at Centro Archives

By Clarisel Gonzalez

Kenia Tapia, 17, is working on a research paper for her high school class on hip-hop and Latinos in the United States. She admits she chose the topic because she loves music and finds any excuse to write about music.

“You hear a lot about African Americans in hip hop,” she said. “But I want to hear more about Latinos. What are the Latino influences in hip hop? How has hip hop influenced Latino society today in the United States.”

Kenia was among seven students in her class at the Academy of Urban Planning in Bushwick, Brooklyn who attended an April 8 workshop at the Centro Library and Archives to learn more about research resources available for students like her and to help prepare them if they choose to participate in a symposium sponsored by the Queens College Latin American and Latino Studies Program.

The college is hosting its 2nd Annual CUNY High School Student Symposium on Latina, Latino and Latin American Studies on May 2 at the Rosenthal Library, Queens College in Flushing. Centro is among the supporting organizations for this year’s symposium, which is expected to draw high school students from throughout the city.

As part of the symposium, students will share research they have worked on with their peers, community members, college students, professors and civic leaders. The symposium goal is to support a platform for youth-centered research and dialogue involving the community and academia.

Participating students will give presentations of five to seven minutes in a panel format. The panels, which will have different themes, will be moderated by college students, faculty and community leaders.

Gabriel Higuera, symposium coordinator who is also an instructor at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology, said educators have been working with students from different schools and community organizations incorporating Latina/o and Latin American studies into lesson plans and supporting their youth in the research process as a way of preparing them to share their findings at the symposium.

Teachers and community-based organizations refer students to the symposium. Among the topics students are expected to present include immigration, access to education, social justice and women’s and environmental justice issues. Last year 10 students presented at the symposium, which was attended by about 50. Higuera said he hopes this symposium will draw about 25 student presenters.

Higuera, who teaches research methods in culturally relevant narrative writing, has been busy preparing students for the symposium. He leads a prep workshop once a week at the Multicultural High School in Bushwick.

At the Centro prep workshop, students received presentations by Centro researchers Dr. Luis O. Reyes, Dr. Marilisa Jiménez-García and Dr. Consuelo Martinez-Reyes, who gave students resources and tips on conducting their research and how they could use Centro’s services. Centro staffer Yosenex Orengo spoke to the students about Centro’s library and archival resources.

Mike Schulman, their teacher, said the students, all seniors, are all working on a research paper on an urban issue for their school. “We thought it would be beneficial to give them other ideas of resources they could use for their research,” he said.

During the workshop, students shared the research topics they are working on their class papers, which included everything from bullying in the LGBT community to racial profiling and stop and frisk. Kenia, who plans to attend La Guardia Community College, said she is glad she attended the Centro workshop and is planning to attend the symposium though she is still deciding whether she will present.

Reyes, director of education, said it is important to him to welcome the high school students to the Library and Archives, which is located in El Barrio, and interact with them. He said he looked forward to acquainting more people in different communities with these resources, and to providing online access as Centro continues to digitize the contents.

Higuera said it is important to show students that professionals will spend time with students and share their knowledge. “They feel supported, empowered,” he said. In the end, he said, this is about the students getting to understand their own history and culture and to tell their stories.

To present at the symposium, students must submit a brief description or abstract of one to two paragraphs of their research. Students will then be expected to complete and send three to five-pages minimum of original work of research or its equivalent to symposium organizers.

The symposium is open to the public but RSVP is recommended. For more information on presenting or to RSVP, contact Higuera at ghiguera@gc.cuny.edu or visit thesymposium.commons.gc.cuny.edu.

To learn more about the Centro Library and Archives 
Click here http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/library/library/library-and-archives