San Antonio Sabbatical

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Well, I guess this is goodbye.  I’m doing my final cleaning and packing since I’ll be leaving San Antonio tomorrow morning.  The guy from Time Warner Cable will be coming by this afternoon to disconnect my Internet service and take back the modem I rented, so I’m getting this post out while I’m still able to get online.

This blog was A LOT of work, but I really enjoyed writing it despite my discomfort with public sharing (I’m a private person).  It has become a great travel journal documenting my activities during this sabbatical semester as well as a marketing tool for advancing in my career.  I’ve had quite a busy four months.  For a quick recap, see these blog posts:

As I stated at the beginning, the intended audience for this blog is broad — my family and friends, psychologists, faculty, writers, tourists, relocators, language learners, and book lovers will be the primary readers of this blog.  I hope that you have learned something from my posts and been inspired by this blog.  My first sabbatical leave has been an amazing success and San Antonio and Our Lady of the Lake University have been wonderful hosts.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  Enjoy the holidays and be well.

Note:  To read the blog in chronological order, go to the Categories box on the right side and click on Introduction.  This will take you to the “Welcome!” post.  Click on the title.  From there, use the top arrow keys to proceed through the entire blog in sequence.


(New York) — My enjoyment of Latino culture continues.  The day after Christmas, at the start of the historic 2010 winter blizzard, my sister and I took the train into the city to see a Broadway show.  First, we ate a delicious lunch (arroz con pollo) at a wonderful Times Square area Cuban restaurant, Havana Central Restaurant.  The menu contained a variety of appetizing dishes; I want to go back and sample more of them.  Then, we walked to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on the next block for the 2:00 p.m. Sunday matinee of the Tony Award-winning musical, “In the Heights”.  This great production about people living in the New York City barrio of Washington Heights was the creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Puerto Rican composer/lyricist who also played the main character (bodega owner, “Usnavi”) for this particular show time.  What a treat.  The talented cast and crew gave an excellent — energetic and entertaining — performance.  “In the Heights” is a spectacular work of art.  I highly recommend it!  🙂


MY VIDEO:   The Sabbatical Project


Last night I attended Susie’s end-of-semester potluck party for our Spanish clinic team.  The fun began at 7:00 p.m. and didn’t end until around 12:45 a.m. this morning.  There were ten of us — Susie and her boyfriend Chris, Rosanna and her boyfriend Diego (I had Thanksgiving dinner with them), Martha, Celina, Stephanie (my ride), Gabriel, me, and Dr. Ezequiel Peña (a.k.a. Clinic Team Supervisor).  We had a great time eating food that people brought, talking, watching a little television, and playing games.  I tried a sip of the champurrado, Mexican hot chocolate made with hominy flour that is served at Christmastime (brought by Celina), and an assortment of good food — tortilla chips and spicy guacamole dip, salad, fruit, chicken, rice, flour tortilla, tamale, chocolate cake, and a Coke.  The games — as well as the company — were engaging and enjoyable.  The first one was Rainbow Jumbling Towers, a set of 48 colorful wooden blocks that are stacked high in which each player tries to remove one without causing the tower to fall.  I narrowly escaped causing a collapse; it’s a good thing I’m not an engineer.  Then we played Boxers or Briefs?, a fun adult party game (we kept it clean) in which we got to learn interesting things, some true and some funny, about each other and teased with off-the-wall answers until there was a winner — Martha, who collected six “True” chips and six “Funny” chips.  I really like this game.  Finally, we sang karaoke courtesy of YouTube lyrics.  Since I can’t sing, I had fun observing as the group sang a variety of tunes including Spanish songs, “I Swear” (All-4-One), “Bad Romance” (Lady Gaga), “Tick Tock” (Kesha), “Like a Virgin” (Madonna), “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (Bonnie Tyler), and “Eye of the Tiger” (Survivor).  It was nice to see everyone so relaxed and in a good mood after their stressful semester.  This group is such a friendly and welcoming bunch and I will really miss seeing them in class and clinic.  At the end of the night, Dr. Peña gave each of us a small gift and Celina gave me an “Alamo” t-shirt as a reminder of my time in Texas.

I squeezed in some leisure reading over the past week.  I finally read the New York Times bestseller, The Help (a novel) by Kathryn Stockett and loved it.  Also, I read Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss & Everything in Between, a book of essays by my fellow writers at Freelance Success.  This was a very good read too.  Tomorrow I’ll post a list of all of the books I’ve read this fall while on my sabbatical leave.

Christmas is quickly approaching and I’m looking forward to being with my Dad and sister in New York.  Holidays are more difficult now since we lost my Mom in 2001 to breast cancer.  Her loving presence is greatly missed and I didn’t want to conclude this blog without mentioning her since she has had a great influence on my life and would be proud of my work and travels.  I think of and pray for Mom often and she lives within my heart.

I will resume my packing and cleaning tomorrow so that I’ll be ready for Friday’s move.  Four days to go…

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Today’s post is a follow-up to my Mid-Semester Update.

This is final exam week at Our Lady of the Lake University.  On Monday evening the final exam was given in my lecture class (I went and looked at the exam, but didn’t have to take it since I’m an auditor).  Yesterday I attended the last session of my clinic practicum.  I have officially completed my two courses and will soon receive my OLLU transcript.  Before Monday’s class I picked up my letter from Joan Biever, Ph.D. (Professor and Chair, Psychology Graduate Programs) which documents my completion of a total of 90 clock hours (45 hours per course) of continuing education during this semester.  This is significantly more than required in order to maintain my psychologist license.

I have achieved my sabbatical goals of learning about counseling issues and strategies for working with the Hispanic/Latino population and improving my speaking ability with the Spanish language.  The two graduate-level courses I completed through OLLU’s Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations (PSSSP) program were Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos (taught by Dr. Teresa Castaño, a.k.a. Classroom Professor in this blog) and a Spanish clinic team practicum at Community Counseling Service (supervised by Dr. Ezequiel Peña, a.k.a. Clinic Team Supervisor in this blog).  Additionally, I had weekly Spanish lessons at the SEFLA language school.  This educational activity was not part of my sabbatical proposal, but I found it to be extremely worthwhile as a supplement to my OLLU courses.  I met with Elvia Quijano for two hours per week for ten weeks for Advanced Conversational Spanish for which I received a grade of A+ as indicated on the diploma given to me by Clara Pérez Peláez, Director.  An unexpected and enjoyable professional development activity in which I participated was the National Latina/o Psychological Association conference that I attended last month (I earned 11 continuing education hours).  I wrote about this excellent conference experience in a previous post (English) and in a journal entry (Spanish).

For my Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos class, I kept a journal in which I reflected on issues and connected the readings and lecture topics to my own experiences.  This was a valuable exercise in which students were to document their personal and professional growth.  I’m a private person who normally wouldn’t share so much publicly in a blog, but I feel that it could be instructional to others and more clearly show my thoughts and feelings about my experiences and progress with the Spanish language.  So, here is the complete set of nine journal entries (in Spanish):

Journal Entry #1            Journal Entry #2            Journal Entry #3

Journal Entry #4            Journal Entry #5            Journal Entry #6

Journal Entry #7            Journal Entry #8            Journal Entry #9

In expanding my own education in the area of multicultural issues, I did some research and came across useful articles, videos, and books that can serve as resources and discussion prompts for others.  I posted several pieces about Hispanic/Latino culture which readers may find helpful.  Here are the eight cultural pieces:

Overall, I’ve had a great first sabbatical experience.  My classes and the NLPA conference were excellent!  Even though my main focus this semester in San Antonio, Texas was academic (it was a paid sabbatical leave, after all), I did manage to work on some writing projects — taking an online book proposal writing class, attending International Freelancers Day seminars, and writing this blog.  I also managed to have fun — joining social groups, eating at a variety of restaurants, going on tours, and doing leisure reading.  As you can see, I’ve been busy.  But it was a good kind of busy and a much needed break from my university job.  I am grateful to Bloomsburg University (my home institution) and Our Lady of the Lake University (my sabbatical site) for allowing me to pursue this personally enriching and professionally relevant sabbatical opportunity.  It has worked out extremely well, and I’m looking forward to future sabbaticals.

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Entrada #9 de diario:   domingo,  el 5 de diciembre de 2010

Esto es la última entrada.  El semestre termina el viernes.  A través de este diario he reflejado en mi aprendizaje y experiencia durante este semestre sabático.

La semana pasada escuché las demás de las presentaciones de mis compañeros de clase.  Los temas fueron interesantes: “La terapia de arte” (Edward); “Consideraciones lingüísticas en la prestación de servicios psicológicos a clientes de habla hispana” (Claudia); “Inmigración ilegal: una vista de la izquierda y la derecha” (Jeff); y “Adquisición de segunda lengua” (Diana).  Todas las presentaciones tuvieron información importante y útil. 

Reciente hice una actividad cultural.  Visité dos museos históricos en San Antonio, el Institute of Texan Cultures y el Museo Alameda.  Ambos son excelentes.  El primero muestra las contribuciones de casi treinta grupos étnicos que formaron la historia de Tejas.  El segundo es el más grande museo latino en los Estados Unidos y tuvo una exhibición muy educativa se llama “Revolution & Renaissance: Mexico & San Antonio 1910-2010”.

La combinación de las clases, las lecturas, la clínica bilingüe, la conferencia de NLPA, las lecciones privadas, y las experiencias culturales me ha dado mucho conocimiento y apreciación de la lengua y la cultura latina.  Pasé bien el tiempo aquí en San Antonio y quiero visitar otra vez en el futuro.

Muchas gracias para enseñar esta clase fantástica.  ¡Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo!

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Entrada #8 de diario:   domingo,  el 28 de noviembre de 2010

El semestre terminará en dos semanas.  Hay mucha información que he aprendido sobre latinos y sus culturas.

Capítulo 9 de Hispanics and the Future of America examina la salud física y mental de los latinos.  A pesar de tener baja posición socioeconómica que los caucásicos, los latinos como un grupo tiene menos mortalidad que los caucásicos (p. 365).  Este hecho se llama “epidemiological paradox” y es muy interesante y sorprendente y necesita más investigación.  Una preocupación principal es la salud de los niños latinos – especialmente la condición de sobrepeso – porque los niños son la futura de la sociedad.  Los estudios indican mejor salud mental para los inmigrantes recientes que los inmigrantes que están aquí por un tiempo muy largo (p. 376).  Es posible que el proceso de aculturación tenga un efecto negativo en la salud de los latinos.  Necesitamos más información, estadísticas, y explicaciones para entender que pasan en las vidas de los inmigrantes latinos.  En mi clínica bilingüe, los clientes latinos tienen muchos problemas con depresión y ansiedad.  Estas condiciones son universales; son comunes en non-latinos también.

Encontré un libro de referencia para ayudarme con las entrevistas y las sesiones de terapia con clientes hispanoblantes.  Es Medical Spanish: A Psychologist’s Guide (Complete Volume) por Craig A. Sinkinson, M.D. y es disponible en  Este libro tiene muchas palabras y frases útiles en inglés y español.  Probablemente, no podré manejar las sesiones clínicas totalmente en español a causa de los matices de la lengua, las diferencias culturales, y mis obligaciones éticas, pero quiero entender suficiente cuando mis clientes usen palabras españoles para describir algo.  Siempre necesitaré un co-terapeuta o supervisor bilingüe para estos tipos de casos.

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Entrada #7 de diario:   domingo,  el 21 de noviembre de 2010

Mi práctica semanal en la clínica bilingüe (Community Counseling Service) es muy interesante.  Estoy aprendiendo mucho, pero el aprendizaje tomará más tiempo para asimilar.  Durante este semestre estoy asistiendo la clínica española los martes con el supervisor       Dr. Ezequiel Peña y también he visitado por dos veces el equipo bilingüe los miércoles con la supervisora Sra. Diana Lincón.  Los dos equipos tienen estudiantes diferentes.  Me gusta ver la variedad de los casos (por ejemplo, una clienta en particular cambia frecuentemente las lenguas de inglés y español – “code switching”) y los estilos de terapia y supervisión.  La principal manera para manejar la terapia en la clínica es “postmodern”/narrativa.  A mí, esta manera es diferente.  Mi entrenamiento psicológico fue ecléctico; ahora, mi estilo favorito es cognitivo-behavioral.  Trabajo en una universidad generalmente con estudiantes non-latinos (no hay mucha diversidad en mi pueblo rural en Pennsylvania) y uso una forma de terapia breve.  Intento combinar la terapia con el cliente; personas diferentes responden bien a los estilos diferentes de terapia.  Veo que los estilos “postmodern” son buenos con la población latina.  Necesito leer y ver más sobre este estilo.

En la clínica, hay problemas de depresión, ansiedad, relaciones familiares, estrés de inmigración, y otras dificultades.  Los inmigrantes recientes son única población clínica y una que es nueva a mí.  He aprendido muchas cosas en esta clase, el libro de texto, la clínica, la conferencia de NLPA, y el programa especial en OLLU este mes con el Obispo John C. Wester.  Por lo tanto, estaré lista en el futuro cuando recibiría más clientes latinos.  Un caso interesante en mi clínica es de una abuela y sus nietas – el poder y la resistencia de la familia.  Dos compañeras de clínica y clase (Celina y Martha C.) hicieron una buena presentación sobre este caso para NLPA y para esta clase.  Otras presentadores en clase discutieron temas importantes como aculturación (Gabriel), trauma y estrés postraumático (Stephanie), Centroamérica (Martha G. y Rosanna), y posmodernismo (Yadira).

Es importante y necesario para manejar la terapia efectivamente y éticamente que los terapeutas tengan no solamente la competencia lingüístico sino también la competencia cultural.  El certificado de PSSSP en OLLU provee conocimiento de ambas cosas.  Hay en la revista gradPSYCH (edición de septiembre de 2010) un buen artículo sobre la competencia cultural.  Mi tiempo aquí en San Antonio es breve (solamente por este semestre).  Para mejorar mis habilidades orales con la lengua, me matriculé en clases privadas de español en SEFLA (Spanish, English and Foreign Languages for America, Inc.), una escuela local.  Mi maestra, Elvia, es excelente.  Mi énfasis es conversación porque esta es mi problema más grande.  (Mis habilidades escritas son mejores porque tengo más tiempo para pensar, examinar, y revisar.)  Hace ocho años que estudio español (con descansos) y mi nivel es intermedio, pero debe ser más alta.  Me gusta la lengua española y continuaré aprenderla.         

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The countdown begins.  In exactly four weeks from today, I will be leaving San Antonio.  At this point on my journey, I am scaling back on my club activities so that I can have more free time to explore the area.  I still have 3 or 4 tours I hope to do in the remaining time.

Wednesday afternoon was spent observing the other Spanish Team at the clinic.  This team is supervised by Diana Lincón, MA, LPC, an OLLU graduate.  I observed her team two weeks ago and enjoyed the experience so she invited me to return.  We had a full caseload that day — six clients (two each hour).  As with my Tuesday Spanish Team, the Wednesday Spanish Team (different bilingual student trainees) has interesting cases as well.  I’ve been discussing my clinic experiences in my journal entries for Classroom Professor.  After Wednesday’s clinic, I went to SEFLA for my ninth Spanish lesson with Elvia.  These Spanish lessons have been great.  I have only one more left.  For dinner that night, I returned to Las Palapas, a Mexican fast food restaurant, and ordered a meal to go.  This time, I tried “Steak a la Mexicana” (spicy grilled beef with peppers, served with beans and rice and warm tortillas).  It was flavorful (“poco picante”) and very good.

On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., I attended my monthly Newcomers of San Antonio “Coffee, Tea, and YOU!” at Bea’s house (located in a really nice section of San Antonio that I hadn’t been to before).  I met a couple of new people and chatted with others whom I knew from a previous coffee session or luncheon.  I mentioned the Studio Art Tour I did last week, and how I’m wrapping things up in preparation for my move next month.  There were 27 members at this social event.  People were friendly and welcoming.  We snacked, talked, had a meeting (conducted by President Donna Lee and during which there was controversy over a proposed bylaws change), and played a fun game (Scavenger Hunt in your Purse) in which my team tied for first place — we found 30 out of 50 listed items in our purses.  I left the meeting almost three hours later and headed, for the first time this fall, to a mall.  On the way there, I stopped at Staples and bought three boxes of holiday cards (is the year really almost over?) and a couple of other things.  Then, I headed to The Shops at La Cantera, a cute and popular shopping area.  My first stop there was to Bravo! Cucina Italiana for lunch.  Italian food (minus the cheese) is one of my favorites — I love pasta and bread!  This was my first time at this restaurant; I stumbled upon it because it was the closest eatery to where I parked my car.  Good thing I did, because I absolutely loved my Pasta Bolognese (“fresh egg fettuccine tossed in our signature Bolognese sauce”) and iced tea.  As usual, I took the leftover portion home and ate it for dinner.  Next, I went to Dillard’s (we don’t have this store in Pennsylvania or New York) and purchased a pair of earrings and heavy pajamas (I was surprised to learn that it gets cold at night in San Antonio).  Then I walked around and browsed.  Of course, I had to stop in Barnes and Noble as I passed by it; fortunately, I limited myself to purchasing only two magazines (I didn’t dare go back into the book section).  I finished my three-hour mall trip with a stop at Godiva where I purchased one small piece of chocolate.  I knew that Godiva chocolates were expensive, but imagine my surprise at paying almost $3.00 for one small gourmet candy.  When I inquired about the price, the cashier informed me that the chocolate costs $48.00 per pound!  Luckily, I got an additional piece for free by giving my e-mail address in order to join their loyalty club.  What a lovely day — nice weather and several of my favorite things (Italian food, books, and chocolate) all in one afternoon.

Today (Friday), I rested a little, ran a couple of errands, and then went out with Donna Lee of Newcomers of San Antonio.  She invited me for dinner at Soluna restaurant (I had beef tacos and iced tea) followed by a 6:00 p.m. Spanish conversation hour with her teacher (Oralia) at Instituto Panamericano.  Donna Lee has recently begun her study of Spanish.  This conversation practice was something new for her.  When we arrived at the school, Oralia was reviewing stories with a few children and their parents; five minutes later we moved to another room and began our conversation.  Donna Lee introduced me and we spent the hour talking.  Oralia read to us one of the stories she wrote that she based on her own Mexican family.  I appreciated this opportunity to spend time with Donna Lee and to practice my Spanish with a native speaker.  At the end of the evening, we exchanged contact information so that we can keep in touch.

During the week, I’ve been practicing my Spanish and learning more about Hispanic/Latino culture by reading Spanish children’s books that I borrowed from my local public library.  This is a great way to expose myself to a variety of issues via stories written for a novice reader.  Even though these books have children as their primary audience, they sometimes challenged me — an adult — with unknown words, regional dialect, and creative sentence structure.  But, I got through them and enjoyed them.  Recently, I read seven books:  (1) Hairs-Pelitos (bilingual) by Sandra Cisneros and Terry Ybáñez, (2) Mi primer libro de dichos/My First Book of Proverbs (bilingual) by Ralfka Gonzalez and Ana Ruiz, (3) Too Many Tamales (in English) by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez, (4) My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartito (bilingual) by Amada Irma Pérez and Maya Christina Gonzalez, (5) Tu cuerpo, de la cabeza a los pies (in Spanish) by Núria Roca and Rosa Maria Curto (Barron’s Educational Series), (6) Gracias, El pavo de Thanksgiving (in Spanish) by Joy Cowley and Joe Cepeda, and (7) My Name is María Isabel (in English) by Alma Flor Ada and K. Dyble Thompson.



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