San Antonio Sabbatical

Another Busy Week

Posted on: November 7, 2010

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Whew!  After an activity-filled few days, I finally have a little bit of time to rest.  On Tuesday afternoon I attended my afternoon practicum as usual; the clinic team was treated to “pan de muerto” (bread) in honor of El Día de Los Muertos.  Then afterward, Clinic Team Supervisor and five team members went to El Pollo Loco (the crazy chicken, in English), a fast food restaurant specializing in flame-grilled chicken, for dinner before going to campus for a special evening lecture.  This was my first time visiting El Pollo Loco — and it was a very good visit.  Their menu contains a nice selection of items.  I ordered “The Original Pollo Bowl” which consists of chicken breast, pinto beans, rice, onions, cilantro and pico de gallo.  I enjoyed my meal and plan to return to this restaurant (which will be easy to do since it’s located near the clinic where I’m doing my Spanish Team practicum).

The Tuesday evening lecture (November 2nd at 7:00 p.m.) was held at Our Lady of the Lake University‘s Thiry Auditorium and attendance was required by Classroom Professor (she canceled the previous day’s class so that students could attend this special presentation instead; I had planned to attend anyway).  The two-hour program was titled, “Immigration Reform: A Catholic Response” and featured Bishop John C. Wester (Chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and Refugee Services) as the main speaker with additional perspectives by Bernadette Solórzano, Psy.D. (OLLU assistant professor of Psychology and director of the University’s Community Counseling Service) speaking about “Advocacy for Immigrants”, and Jorge Valadez, Ph.D. (OLLU professor of Philosophy) speaking about “Immigration Reform: A World View”.  OLLU‘s president, Tessa Martinez Pollack, Ph.D., gave the official welcome and Bishop Oscar Cantú introduced the main speaker.  This was an interesting and informative guest lecture.  I’m so glad I attended.  Given the big immigration debate currently happening in the U.S. and the focus on legal, economic, political, and social issues, I hadn’t really given much thought to the religious aspect of this issue until now.  OLLU is a Catholic institution so it makes sense for them to sponsor a guest lecture which addresses the issue of immigration from a Catholic perspective.  (I’m not Catholic, but I am a Christian so there is overlap between my own beliefs and values and those professed by the Catholic church).

In addition to taking a few educational handouts that were provided at the entrance, I wrote six pages of notes during the presentations.  I won’t relay all of the details here in this blog post.  The main points addressed by Bishop John C. Wester focused on why the church is involved in this immigration issue.  He mentioned that our immigration system is broken, gave a list of important principles to consider in dealing with this issue, and stated that comprehensive immigration reform is needed and what this should entail.  Bishop Wester also mentioned common objections and debunked some myths about immigrants.  The next two speakers added additional perspectives.  Dr. Bernadette Solórzano mentioned the immigration issues she sees in her clinic and how she advocates for her clients by conducting evaluations to prove extreme psychological hardship on immigrants being separated from their families.  Dr. Jorge Valadez spoke of nation states, territorial powers, and reciprocity, and suggested systematically integrating migration into the policies of countries, especially the poor countries.  He noted that we should listen to the concerns of others and not be too quick to judge the motives of others.  Following the speakers, there was a brief question-and-answer session.  OLLU President Tessa Martinez Pollack provided closing remarks and commented on the timing of this lecture which is being held on Election Day and El Día de Los Muertos on which many people have honored their immigrant families.  This was an excellent guest lecture.

On Wednesday afternoon, I observed the other Spanish Team at the clinic and plan to return for another observation in two weeks (I’ll write about it in another post).  Wednesday evening was when I had to turn the heat on in my apartment for the first time and put a quilt on my bed.  Nighttime temperatures have dropped into the 30s.  Yes, it does get cold here in Texas.  I wasn’t expecting this so I may have to do a little shopping for more fall clothes.  I didn’t bring a lot of heavy clothes with me since I was warned about the Texas heat (I arrived in San Antonio in mid-August).  This current weather reminds me of what I experienced while living in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  San Antonio‘s recent daytime temperatures have often been in the 70s, but there is a significant drop at night (there have been freeze warnings in the northern parts of Texas).

Thursday was my monthly luncheon for Newcomers of San Antonio.  This time we dined at Silo Elevated Cuisine and Bar.  Like last month, several members attended, but this restaurant’s set-up was better (i.e., tables of 8 in a separate room with more space) and this made it easier to mingle and feel comfortable.  The group’s president (Donna Lee Conkwright) made some announcements and conducted the general meeting, then we ate lunch, and then we listened to a speaker.  The lunch was flavorful.  I selected the Wood Grilled Atlantic Salmon with roasted corn and red pepper polenta, grilled asparagus, and basil crab beurre blanc, and for dessert I had a delicious dark chocolate truffle mousse.  A house salad and bread were served prior to the entree; black currant iced tea was served as an optional beverage.  I really like this restaurant — great atmosphere and food, although our service was slow (it took almost an hour before everyone was served; my table was one of the last ones served).  During dessert we heard a 40-minute presentation by Donna Simon, a local artist (painter) and founding board member of SAY Sí.  She discussed “Contemporary Art in San Antonio” and showed slides of various types of art made by local artists.  I really enjoyed this presentation.  At the end, I took one of her flyers and business cards and contacted her to register for one of the Studio Art Tours she offers each month where she takes participants to artists’ studios and galleries in San Antonio.  I enjoy dabbling in art and viewing the artwork of others, and am excited about this opportunity.  My Studio Art Tour is scheduled to take place on the morning of Tuesday, November 9th.

Friday marked the release of Tyler Perry‘s new movie, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf“.  I went to the 11:10 a.m. showing at AMC Huebner Oaks 24 and was pleasantly surprised that tickets for showtimes before noon cost only $5.00.  What a great deal.  Anyway, “For Colored Girls…” (which is based upon a 1970s play) is intense — so many deep and troubling issues; an emotional two hours.  Despite the harsh content (which reflects these ladies’ lives), I liked the movie.

On Friday evening, I went to Elvia’s (my SEFLA Spanish teacher) house so that we could attend the SAY Sí Mueritos Fest First Friday, a special event for El Día de Los Muertos.  When I arrived at Elvia’s house around 5:30 p.m., I gave her flowers and a box of Pepperidge Farm cookies that she loves.  She thanked me and invited me inside.  We chatted briefly and she introduced me to her husband (who loves to tango dance).  Then we walked for a few blocks to the event.  SAY Sí (San Antonio Youth – Yes) is an arts organization that helps the area’s children.  For the 4th Annual Mueritos Fest there were art exhibits in various media; vendors selling jewelry, crafts, and foods; and some entertainment.  Elvia and I watched a short shadow box performance by theater students  from a local school.  Afterward, we went outside and saw a variety of regional Mexican dances being performed by dancers wearing traditional dress.  The talent and creativity on display were amazing.  Elvia then took me to the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center which is famous for its art gallery; the Blue Star Brewing Company Restaurant and Bar next door is a popular hangout spot for the locals who come listen to the live entertainment.  This neighborhood houses many artists — they live here and have their studios here.  Elvia and I went inside the gallery and looked around at some of the art exhibits; as we passed by the Blue Star restaurant we ran into one of Elvia’s neighbors and stopped and talked for a while.

As we walked along S. Alamo Street in search of a place to eat, Elvia explained that we were in the historic King William district and the Southtown area known for its history, culture, food, art, and music.  This is San Antonio‘s arts district and there are many restaurants, shops, museums, and galleries here.  At my request, we went inside of Pulquerios’ Jewelry, Art, Beads & Eclectica and I purchased a small curio display box of a Día de Los Muertos scene.  It’s cute, artsy, and small enough to carry with me when I move in six weeks.  We ate at a nearby restaurant, Liberty Bar.  Elvia had eaten here before and really liked it.  Liberty Bar is a nice sit-down restaurant with a great atmosphere and diverse menu that changes daily.  It was so busy that night that we had a 20-minute wait for a table (not bad).  When we were finally seated, we ended up at a table near more of Elvia’s neighbors.  A couple of them came over to our table and Elvia introduced me.  Everybody seems so friendly, just like Elvia.  This meal was Elvia’s gift to me.  For dinner I ordered Hummus Bi Tahini with Pita Toast, a small Mixed Green Salad with Vinaigrette, and a small Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice.  Later I got a cup of Leek and Chickpea Soup to go because it looked so good when Elvia was eating it in the restaurant.  The food was delicious (I especially loved the soup that I ate once I got home).  I really enjoyed this meal and having the chance to talk with Elvia.  We spoke in English because this was a lot easier for me and this wasn’t an official lesson, just a fun outing.  This was a really nice evening and the first time I had been to this part of San Antonio.  I thanked Elvia for sharing it with me.  We parted ways around 10:35 p.m. and I arrived home twenty minutes later.  I was tired, but satisfied.  I had my fill of art and culture for the night.  ¡Qué bueno!




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