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‘Diversity in Reading’ Events Support La Casita’s Bilingual Programs
La Casita’s third annual “Diversity in Reading” campaign is underway. The monthlong campaign’s goal is to raise support for the bilingual library and dual language literacy programs at La Casita Cultural Center, 109 Otisco St., Syracuse.
More than 160 student volunteers and interns worked this year with La Casita, says Tere Paniagua ’82, executive director of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community. That number increases by about 40 percent each year, she says.
La Casita volunteers and interns, including about a dozen students seeking practicum opportunities in bilingual education, work with La Casita’s bilingual library and dual language Reading Circles. An annual book project offers learning opportunities in publishing including editorial work, graphic design and marketing.
“La Casita’s bilingual library is a resource for La Casita’s various bilingual programs and for communities that interact with us daily, including local residents and University faculty and students,” Panaigua says.
The organization “serves communities on and off campus, by providing a cultural and language immersion experience that is impossible to come across anywhere in our city and our region,” she adds. “In just seven years, it has evolved into a unique project that positions the College of Arts and Sciences and Syracuse University as a leading Hispanic cultural engagement institute and partner in developing groundbreaking cultural heritage research in the CNY region.”
La Casita currently serves 67 children in its weekly literacy programs—a core mission of the center. Dual language literacy programs continue to grow, with four weekly workshops, including two preschool groups and two elementary school-level groups. Plans are underway to offer a high school program in collaboration with the School of Education’s Cultural Foundations in Education program.
This year’s “Diversity in Reading” events include:
- 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 11: Martín Alberto González will present a talk on his book “21 Miles of Scenic Beauty and Then Oxnard.” González’s 2017 book is based on personal experiences growing up as a first-generation Xicano in Oxnard, California. He is a doctoral student in the Cultural Foundations of Education program and oversees La Casita’s dual-language literacy program, working with the children of the Spanish Action League youth programs.
Proceeds from book and sticker sales at this event support the annual campaign. Collaborating on this program is Syracuse’s Xicanex Empowering Xicanex (XEX) student organization.
- 1 p.m. Saturday, April 21: La Casita will release its third bilingual children’s book, written and illustrated by the children of La Casita’s weekly afterschool Reading Circles. “Gabi in Her Little World” will be released during the opening reception of the annual Young Art exhibit at La Casita.
This program is supported by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Latino-Latin American studies program. Assisting with the project were Dashel Hernández G’18, who is studying public administration at the Maxwell School, and and Tajanae Harris ’18, an anthropology major at Maxwell. Hernández and Olivia A. Hager ’18, a retail major at the Whitman School, oversaw the book’s graphic design and composition.
At this event, the children will also present a Spanish translation of Elizabeth Schoonmaker’s children’s book “Square Cat” (La gata cuadrada). Children’s illustrations will be on display.
- Throughout April: Supporters may also donate money or books. A wish list of books is on amazon.com. Supporters can make donations online.
“Children’s bilingual books are always in demand at La Casita,” Panaguia says. “Even the smallest donation will be greatly appreciated.”
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