San Antonio Sabbatical

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The 2010 National Latina/o Psychological Association Conference took place from Thursday, November 11th through Saturday, November 13th right here in San Antonio.  Lucky me!  I attended the conference and learned a lot and met some really nice people.  I even saw Dr. Andrés Consoli, a fellow trainee from my internship days at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  The theme of this year’s NLPA conference was “Latinas: Celebrating the Psychological Strength and Resilience of Latina Women and Girls”.  In my last post I wrote about my NLPA experience in a journal entry for Classroom Professor who collected the journals two days ago.  Today’s post is being provided for those of you who would prefer to read about this event in English.

My first experience with NLPA was fantastic!  The conference was well organized and drew a large number of attendees.  It was a busy and fun weekend with lots of positive energy and great people.  Even though I’m not a Latina, I felt very comfortable in this warm and supportive atmosphere.  OLLU was one of the conference sponsors and held on its campus Thursday evening a poster session (which included a great case study done by two members of my Spanish Clinic Team — they talked about the power and resilience of a Latina grandmother and her granddaughters), reading and book signing by Sandra Cisneros (author of The House on Mango Street and other books), and a reception marking OLLU‘s 20th anniversary of its graduate psychology program.  What a great start to the conference.  NLPA President, Dr. Edward Delgado-Romero, gave an official welcome.  Sandra Cisneros did a fabulous reading in which she chose three heartfelt selections to share that described her personal struggles with severe depression and low self-esteem during her early days as a writer.  I felt honored to be part of the audience of psychologists and psychology students who heard her speak that night.  She was truly amazing!

The next two days at the Westin Riverwalk were filled with several educational sessions on a variety of topics relevant to Latinos and psychology; I earned 11 continuing education hours.  I listened to inspirational speeches from leaders in the field of psychology, including ones by Dr. Melba J.T. Vasquez (President-Elect of the American Psychological Association and the first APA President of color), Dr. Patricia Arredondo (co-author of my textbook, Counseling Latinos and la familia: A Practical Guide) and Latina pioneers Dr. Lillian Comas-Diaz and Dr. Nadya Fouad.  They discussed their personal and professional experiences and the risks they took and the challenges they encountered, such as racism and sexism, as they climbed the ladder of success.  They also talked about their hopes for Latinos and for psychology in the future.  I especially loved when Dr. Melba Vasquez talked about how she campaigned for the APA presidency and the huge amount of support she received from others.  She was surprised to realize the extent of her support system until she actually won the election.  When she exclaimed, “I have people!”, she was humble but sounded like a star — and she is.  I’m so glad to have her as my president.  Psychology is very lucky to have all of these intelligent, energetic, and powerful Latinas in their midst.  I am in awe.  Latinos are changing the world in wonderful ways.

At the end of the conference, one of the awards given was to an early career psychologist whose work has furthred the mission of NLPA.  This award was given to Dr. Lisa M. Edwards, who did an excellent conference presentation on the challenges of balancing work and family.  It was purely coincidental that, after I attended her session and later ate lunch with her and her friend, the next day she won this award as one of the new leaders in the field.

Sessions that I attended were:

The first…of many: Promoting leadership among Latinos/Latinas by Melba J.T. Vasquez (Friday’s Keynote Speaker)

Latina Motherhood: Young Professionals’ Reflections from the Borderlands (Lisa M. Edwards, Carrie Castaneda-Sound, Geneva Reynaga-Abiko, Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez)

Latina Undergraduate Coping and Wellbeing: A psychosocial framework (Jeanett Castellanos, Bianca Barrios, Ashley Delagado, Jessica Kayat, Alberta M. Gloria)

Predictors of Mexican American College Women’s Mental Health (Lizette Ojeda, Natalia Jimenez, Brandy Pina-Watson, Noshaba Khn, Linda Castillo, Kimberly M. Rodriguez, Lisa M. Edwards)

Mentoring in Latina professional development: Lessons learned in the journey (Melissa L. Morgan, Andrés J. Consoli, Alejandra Gamez-Villanueva, Rosa Serpas, Lucila Ramos-Sánchez, Carolina Cervantes, Ana Cabrera, Jasmin Llamas, Nelly González)  

Strengths Based Brief Therapy for Latinas (Monte Bobele, Arnold Slive, Teresa Correia, Kyle Green)

Latinas as transformative leaders by Patricia Arredondo (Saturday’s Keynote Speaker)

The negative effect of discrimination on the health of Latinos (Andrea Romero, Scott Carvajal, Cecelia Rosales, Lisa Lapeyrouse, Gilbert Gee)

Marianismo: Theory, Measurement, and Clinical Application (Linda G. Castillo, Cynthia E. Guzmán, Rachel L. Navarro, Araceli López-Arenas, Emilia O’Neill)

Training and Supervision for Bilingual Therapists: Ethical Issues (Laura L. Luna, Andrés Consoli, Azara Santiago-Rivera, Ellen L. Vaughan, Edward A. Delgado-Romero)

Resilience and Strength of Immigrant Latinas within the context of domestic violence (Julia Perilla, R. Lillianne Macías, Josephine Vásquez Serrata, Alvina Rosales)

I learned a lot this past weekend and can use this information in order to better serve my clients.  There is a lot of good research being done about Latinos and I expect that even more will be done in the future.  When I came to San Antonio for my sabbatical leave, I had no idea that the NLPA conference would be held here this year.  Things just happened to work out so that I could attend.  And I’m glad that I did.  This additional activity has made my sabbatical semester even better.  ¡Qué bueno!

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  • In: Journal
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Entrada #6 de diario:   domingo,  el 14 de noviembre de 2010

“Wow!”  Me siento fantástica porque por los tres días pasados asistí mi primera reunión del “National Latina/o Psychological Association” (NLPA) en San Antonio y esta conferencia fue excelente.  El tema este año fue la celebración de las fuerzas psicológicas y la resistencia de mujeres y niñas latinas.  Soy feminista y me gusta mucho este tema.  Todavía estoy en el nube nueve.  Hoy es un día libre en cual estoy reflexionando sobre los muchos aspectos positivos de NLPA – la gente buena, las sesiones educativas (recibí once horas de crédito de la educación continua), y el ambiente bienvenido con mucha energía positiva.  Estoy de buen humor.  También, estoy llena de inspiración.  Mis pensamientos y sentimientos son de gratitud y esperanza para el futuro.  Los latinos cambian el mundo en maneras maravillosas.  ¡Qué estupendo!

La recepción para comenzar la conferencia el noche del jueves en OLLU (un sponsor) consistió en una sesión de póster, una presentación de la autora famosa Sandra Cisneros, y tiempo para relacionarse con otros participantes mientras comíamos una merienda de platos latinos.  La lectura pública de Sandra Cisneros fue muy personal sobre sus luchas con depresión grave y autoestima baja.  Fue muy sentimental.  Adicionalmente, la lectura (tres selecciones) fue perfecta para la audiencia de estudiantes de psicología y psicólogos.  Soy escritora también (de nonficción y poesía —  haz “clic” en www.sybilholloway.com para ver mis artículos) por lo tanto entendí mejor sus dificultades con su carrera.

El viernes y el sábado asistí muchas sesiones interesantes en el Westin Riverwalk, un hotel grande y lujoso.  Los discursos principales de Dra. Melba J. T. Vasquez (Presidenta-Elect de American Psychological Association, la primera presidente de color) y Dra. Patricia Arredondo (una líder y co-autora de nuestro libro de texto, Counseling Latinos and la familia: A Practical Guide) fueron estimulantes.  Ellas discutieron el concepto de liderazgo y un proceso muy duro para ascender en sus carreras – los riesgos, la discriminación racial y sexo, las redes de apoyo y otras cosas relevantes.  Me gustó oír sus historias personales y como vencieron sus retos para tener éxito.  Más tarde en la conferencia, las pioneras latinas de psicología (Dra. Lillian Comas-Díaz y Dra. Nadya Fouad) hablaron de sus experiencias profesionales y sus deseos para psicología en el futuro.  Estas cuatro mujeres han logrado mucho y estoy orgullosa de ellas.

Aprendí mucho este fin de la semana y puedo usar la información para servir mejor mis clientes.  Una de las presentadoras de la sesión de los retos de la maternidad latina (Dra. Lisa M. Edwards) ganó el premio de NLPA para psicólogos en la primera etapa de su carrera el día siguiente.  Fui a su simposio excelente de la balanza entre el trabajo y la vida.  Otras sesiones que asistí incluyen el bienestar de los estudiantes latinos en la universidad (una perspectiva psychosociocultural); las predicciones de la salud mental de los estudiantes mexicanos; la importancia de tener un mentor; terapia breve que basa en las fortalezas del cliente para latinos; el efecto negativo de la discriminación en la salud de los latinos; el teoría, la medición y la aplicación clínica del concepto latino de marianismo; asuntos éticos en el entrenamiento y la supervisión de las terapeutas bilingües; y la resistencia y fuerza de inmigrantes latinos dentro del contexto de la violencia doméstica (nota: la violencia doméstica fue el tema de mi tesis doctoral).  Las presentaciones tuvieron elementos de la identidad, la cultura, los valores, la familia, la comunidad, la salud, las fuerzas, la profesión de psicología, y el liderazgo.  Todos elementos son importantes.  Muchos estudiantes asistieron la conferencia.  Vi estudiantes y profesores de OLLU, y encontré algunas personas que no conocí antes.  Aun hablé con Dr. Andrés Consoli, un psicólogo que estaba haciendo prácticas (“internship” en University of California, Santa Barbara) conmigo durante el año escolar 1993-94.  Hace 16 años que no veo él.  Él está bien e hizo presentaciones buenas en esta conferencia.  Asistí sus presentaciones sobre la importancia de los mentores y los asuntos éticos para terapeutas bilingües.  También, platicamos y cenamos juntos el sábado.

Para concluir esta entrada, puedo decir que esta conferencia de NLPA fue excelente.  Pasé estos días bien y recibí mucha información sobre latinos.  Aprendí sobre las investigaciones más recientes y encontré otros psicólogos y estudiantes.  Qué suerte que esta conferencia estuvo aquí cuando estoy aquí en San Antonio, Tejas.  Estoy muy feliz porque esta actividad adicional ha hecho mejor mi semestre del sabático académico.

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Entrada #5 de diario:   lunes, el 8 de noviembre de 2010

El martes pasado asistí una presentación invitada se llama “Immigration Reform: A Catholic Response”.  El orador principal fue el obispo John C. Wester.  Otras perspectivas fueron presentados por Bernadette Solórzano, Psy.D. (OLLU subprofesora de psicología y directora de Community Counseling Service) y Jorge Valadez, Ph.D. (OLLU profesor de filosofía).  Doctora Solórzano habló sobre su papel como una ayudante de inmigrantes quienes vienen a su clínica.  Doctor Valadez habló sobre una vista mundial del asunto de la reforma de inmigración.  Estas presentaciones fueron muy interesantes e educativas.  Hasta ahora, no pongo mucha atención en la perspectiva religiosa de inmigración.  Por lo tanto, recibí este programa especial con mucho interés porque esto me enseñaría algo diferente y aumentaría mi conocimiento del tema.

Obispo Wester mencionó por que la iglesia católica se mete en el debate robusto de inmigración (porque es un asunto moral) y por que es importante para todos.  Él nos dijo que el sistema de inmigración está roto.  Entonces, él mencionó principios importantes para considerar y arreglar la situación.  También, Obispo Wester mencionó objeciones comunes contra cambio y disipó falacias comunes.  Por ejemplo, (1) la mayoría de los inmigrantes están aquí ilegalmente, (2) los inmigrantes no quieren ser ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, (3) los inmigrantes quitan trabajos de los americanos, (4) los inmigrantes no pagan impuestos, (5) los inmigrantes son cargas en la sociedad, etcétera.  Estas cosas no son la verdad.  Obispo Wester nos dio los hechos y nos dijo lo que su comité hace para ayudarlos.  Me gusta mucho las ideas de todos oradores.  Hay muchas opiniones y muchas soluciones posibles.  Esta situación es muy complicada y necesitamos mucho tiempo para resolverlo.  No tengo la respuesta correcta.  ¿Qué piensas tú?

Para añadir a mi conocimiento cultural, durante las dos semanas pasadas leí (en inglés) dos libros de literatura hispánica, The House on Mango Street por Sandra Cisneros y Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies por Laura Esquivel.  El segundo, Like Water for Chocolate, describe una mala situación en cuál es un requisito que la hija más menor no puede casarse y no puede tener hijos propios para ser libre para cuidarse a sus padres ancianos.  Esto es una carga grande pero es la regla en esta familia.  Capítulo 8 (terapia familiar con latinos) en el texto Counseling Latinos and la familia discute el tema de reglas, papeles, y rituales en la familia (páginas 155-158).  Estas tres cosas (3 R’s) reflejan valores fuertes culturales y afectan las interacciones y el bienestar de miembros de la familia.  En terapia familiar, los consejeros necesitan poner atención a las reglas, los papeles, y los rituales y entender lo que significan estas cosas importantes.  Estoy de acuerdo.  He visto clientes quienes sufren emocionalmente porque sus deseos no reciben apoyo de sus familias.  Es común y triste.  Con los clientes americanos es más fácil para estimular independencia porque esto es la norma cultural, pero con los clientes latinos esto es muy difícil para manejar porque su cultura tiene más dependencia en la familia (es normal que ellos toman decisiones juntos).

Otra actividad cultural que he hecho recientemente: el viernes pasado, asistí con mi maestra de español una celebración en el centro para conmemorar el Día de Los Muertos (SAY Sí Mueritos Fest First Friday).  Esto fue mi primera vez en el barrio artístico de Southtown/King William y me gustó mucho.  Fuimos a SAY Sí y Blue Star y vimos muchas exposiciones de arte.  ¡Qué bueno!  Hay mucho talento en San Antonio, especialmente de los estudiantes en SAY Sí.  También, cuando estuvimos en SAY Sí, miramos las joyas y las artesanías de los vendedores (no compré nada).  Miramos una obra corta de teatro de los estudiantes y bailes tradicionales mexicanos.  ¡Qué magnífico!  Entonces, fuimos a Pulquerios y compré una artesanía – una caja pequeña de madera con la escena tridimensional del Día de Los Muertos.  Después, Elvia y yo cenamos en Liberty Bar.  Comí hummus y pan (pita) tostado, ensalada mixta, y jugo de naranja, y pedí sopa de puerros y garbanzos para llevar.  El ambiente y la comida son buenos en este restaurante.  Lo recomiendo.  El viernes, pasamos bien el tiempo en el centro.  Vi una parte diferente de San Antonio y vi mucha cultura hispánica.

  • In: Diversions
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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!

  • In: Diversions
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I’ve noticed that October has been very busy for me due to my activities, both the scholarly ones and the fun ones.  My sabbatical time is passing by quickly.

As I mentioned in my latest journal entry, the in-class role plays went well.  My group did a great job; my role as supervisor was perfect for me as it allowed me to prepare and memorize a script (in Spanish) rather than having to create and respond to many statements in-the-moment.  I was pleased with the final result: a fine performance for which my group received a grade of 95.  Classroom Professor was clearly pleased too.  This role play project resulted in forming deeper connections with my classmates — a great benefit.

At my Tuesday practicum, when Clinic Team Supervisor went around the room and asked about each student’s Thanksgiving plans and I mentioned that I invited my Dad to come visit me in San Antonio but that I’m not sure if he will be able to, one of my friendly teammates graciously invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family who will be visiting from El Paso, Texas.  This was so sweet of her.  I thanked her for the invitation and we agreed to update each other on our plans as the holiday nears.  Her Thanksgiving dinner invitation reminded me of an invitation I received several years ago while doing my clinical internship in California.  Since I couldn’t afford to go home to New York and be with my own family, one of the office secretaries invited me to have Thanksgiving dinner with her extended family.  I went and had a nice time.  I love being around kind-hearted people.

Because of my wonderful sabbatical experience at Our Lady of the Lake University (a Catholic, Hispanic-Serving Institution), I recommended this school and the city of San Antonio as a location that is worthy of being profiled in a new “Postcards” blog sponsored by The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The October 22, 2010 issue (p. A4) contained a request for suggestions of college towns in non-Eastern states that their reporter should visit on his November road trip.  I sent an e-mail a few days ago but haven’t yet received a response.

Yesterday I attended a free online webinar, “7 Ways to Increase Your Income (without having to raise your fees or get new clients)”.  This session was offered by the organizers of International Freelancers Day in which I participated in late September.  I continue to learn more about how to expand my part-time freelance writing business (which will supplement my full-time psychology career).  This week I finished up my six-week online “Write Your Book Proposal” class — I received important content and great feedback on the assignments for my self-help book — so I should have a little more free time in my schedule in the coming weeks. 

During this week’s Spanish lesson at SEFLA, Elvia and I watched and discussed a short video about the Yunque tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico (it reminded us of the Monteverde rainforest we visited in Costa Rica) and then reviewed mandatos (commands) in preparation for more thorough practice with the dreaded subjunctive verb tense.  The previous week, we played a little of various games in Spanish — Cranium, Pictionary, “100 Mexicanos dijeron” (poll results, similar to “Family Feud”) — and Elvia showed me some others such as loteria (Mexican bingo), Adivina quién?, Adivina dónde?, and Scene it?  This activity was fun and I learned lots of new vocabulary words, especially from the loteria picture cards.

A couple of days ago I went to the library (still a busy venue due to the early voting for the elections) and checked out several easy reader children’s books in Spanish so that I could expand my vocabulary and get more practice with reading Spanish books.  During my 2010 summer study trip to Spain, I read my first two Spanish books, an accomplishment for which I am very proud.  The first book I read was Junie B. Jones y el diario de clase by Barbara Park, and the second book was a Disney fairytale, Campanilla y la guerra de los pasteles.  My teacher in Spain said that reading children’s books in Spanish is a good idea; as my comfort with the language increases, I can advance to reading more challenging books in Spanish.  I’ve already read several selections from Spanish newspapers and magazines, but books present more of a challenge due to the words used (many regional phrases and complex sentence structures) and the higher reading level required.  I’m also trying to expose myself to Hispanic/Latino culture by reading books in English.  I’ve never taken a Hispanic literature class because many are very advanced and require reading complex pieces in Spanish, and I’m not there yet.  So, I’m hoping to read some of these works in their English form.  I recently read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and am currently reading Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel.

I ordered food again from the Tin Star restaurant.  This time I had their “Two Taco Plate” and a Coca-Cola.  I had a grilled steak taco (#1 – steak, avocado, grilled onion) on a corn tortilla and a grilled chicken taco (#9 – chicken, roasted garlic, red onion jalopeno blend, sweet potato straws) on a flour tortilla.  Warm tortilla chips and salsa accompanied the meal.  I ate this meal at home after my Wednesday Spanish lesson and enjoyed it.  I still want to explore more of the San Antonio restaurant scene.  Normally I don’t eat out a lot (too expensive), but I’ve made an exception now.  How could I come to the great culinary city of San Antonio and not try the different foods?

Up until now, I’ve been focusing on studying (OLLU classes and SEFLA Spanish lessons), reading, writing, and meeting new people.  I haven’t been a tourist, but a resident.  Since the weather has become more tolerable and I have left only one complete month — November — I intend to do more tourist activities because San Antonio has much to see and do.  I’ll begin this phase of my trip with a food tour tomorrow.  Yum!

  • In: Journal
  • Comments Off on Fourth Journal Entry

Entrada #4 de diario:   lunes, el 25 de octubre de 2010

Hace una semana que la clase discutió los casos de Marisela e Isabel, e hizo papeles.  Esta tarea fue muy educativa y sirvió como un repaso de la lectura en Counseling Latinos and la familia.  Los conceptos en capítulo 6 (el primer paso de terapia) llegaron a ser vivos.  Los dos grupos hablaron de temas culturales y psicológicos.  También, ellos discutieron la importancia de una buena evaluación de los clientes.  En el apéndice C del libro hay un formulario estructurado para hacer la entrevista con el cliente (“Culture-Centered Clinical Interview”).  Contiene cosas culturales que son muy importantes en la evaluación y la terapia – por ejemplo, temas de inmigración, lengua, cultura, y religión.

Mi grupo de Claudia (“Isabel”), Jeff (terapeuta), Edward (terapeuta), y yo (supervisora) hizo el caso de “Isabel”.  Este caso fue difícil porque Isabel tiene problemas serios y complejos (ella oye las voces en la cabeza y necesita una siquiatra y medicamentos).  Creo que hicimos una buena sesión inicial y le preguntamos los asuntos más importantes sobre su estado mental.  Me gustaría que no necesité leer palabra por palabra mi escritura, que pude hablar español en el momento aunque era nerviosa.  La preparación me ayudó mucho.  La actividad de hacer papeles fue una buena experiencia para unir con mis compañeros de clase.

En el libro Counseling Latinos and la familia hay una sección sobre cuentos y dichos en capítulo 7 (los medios pasos y el fin de terapia).  En el apéndice D las autoras recomiendan un libro se llama It’s All in the Frijoles: 100 Famous Latinos Share Real-Life Stories, Time-Tested Dichos, Favorite Folktales, and Inspiring Words of Wisdom por Yolanda Nava (Ed.).  Acabé de leer este libro y me gusta mucho.  Los capítulos discuten 14 virtudes del carácter humano: Responsabilidad, Respeto, Trabajo Duro, Lealtad, Fe, Integridad, Valentía, Humildad, Moderación,  Prudencia, Justicia, Fortaleza, Castidad, y Caridad.  Hay muchos ejemplos personales de muchas personas.  Estas virtudes son importantes en mi vida.  Aprendí las virtudes en mi familia, en mi iglesia, y en mi escuela.  It’s All in the Frijoles discute la cultura latina.  El título tiene su origen en una referencia de la cocina de la madre de Nava: un mal frijol estropea la olla de frijoles (como un mal rasgo reduce el carácter de la persona).  Es una metáfora.

Mis cinco dichos favoritos en It’s All in the Frijoles son:

  1. Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres. (Tell me with whom you travel, and I will tell you who you are.)
  2. Trabaja para más valer, estudia para más saber.  (Work to be worth more, study to know more.)
  3. Si vas a hacer algo, hazlo correcto.  (If you’re going to do something, do it right.)
  4. Por las acciones se juzgan los corazones.  (Our hearts are judged by our actions.)
  5. Todo en la vida se puede recuperar, pero el tiempo nunca se recupera.  (You can recover everything in life, but time.)

These past two months have gone by rather quickly.  My sabbatical is half over.  Our Lady of the Lake University students have been taking their mid-term exams and are on a fall break today and tomorrow.  So, this seems like a good time to review the goals of my sabbatical leave and assess my progress thus far.

As this is my first sabbatical, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  Sabbatical experiences differ greatly and my sabbatical project is a unique one.   The purpose of my sabbatical is to learn about counseling issues and strategies for working with the Hispanic/Latino population and to improve my speaking ability with the Spanish language.  The primary manner in which I am doing this is by taking two graduate-level psychology courses that are part of OLLU’s Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations (PSSSP) certificate program.  A supplemental activity that I added one month into the semester is weekly Spanish lessons at SEFLA that I spoke about in a previous post.

My lecture class, Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos, is informative and engaging.  Our two textbooks provide lots of data about Hispanics/Latinos and special concerns affecting this population (for example, immigration issues and cultural values) and how these issues affect the counseling process.  Classroom Professor sparks interesting discussions and shares her related personal and professional experiences and encourages the class to share theirs.  By doing the assigned journal entries (see #1, #2, and #3), I have been able to reflect on these issues and more clearly connect the readings to my own experiences.  Furthermore, these journal entries have allowed me to practice my writing skills in Spanish.  The class is currently working on case studies which we will role play in groups at our next class meeting on Monday.  I expect that this activity will be very educational.

My practicum is a clinic placement at Community Counseling Service.  I am a member of the Tuesday Spanish Team.  This team consists of six therapists-in-training, two observers (including myself), and Clinic Team Supervisor.  Therapy sessions are conducted primarily in Spanish (sometimes the younger family members — the children — prefer English, so there may be a switching of languages during the session as all of the therapists and Clinic Team Supervisor are bilingual).  The cases are interesting and reflect a variety of common counseling issues.  The live supervision format (reflecting team) is a great teaching tool.  Although I don’t understand everything that is said, I get the main points and offer comments and support to the students on our “star team”.  This is a name we have given ourselves.  The team has bonded very well and the therapists-in-training have shown great clinical skill, a testament to their OLLU training.  Clinic Team Supervisor has a relaxed and supportive style which makes the learning environment comfortable and enjoyable.  At this week’s clinic meeting, prior to our client’s arrival we had our mid-semester reviews/check-ins (one-on-one meetings between each student and Clinic Team Supervisor followed by a sentimental group check-in with the entire team).  Everyone seems very pleased with the way things are going.  The team members complimented me on my participation and choice to spend my sabbatical leave at OLLU.  I really like this Spanish Clinic Team and the clients whom we are serving.

Elvia, my private language teacher at SEFLA, is doing a great job of engaging me in Spanish conversation.  We have had open discussions about a variety of topics, reviewed some grammar (preterite and imperfect verb tenses), reviewed exercises that I completed in the workbook, and played fun educational games (hangman and a guess-the-person-that-I-am-describing game).  At my request, we spent half of one lesson working on the language for my role play for Classroom Professor’s class.  I’m enjoying these extra lessons with Elvia.  She’s knowledgeable and fun.  Elvia likes working with me; she said that I am “a joy to teach”.  We’ve already completed four of our ten scheduled meetings.  She has invited me to her home so I’ll probably be visiting her soon.

One difficulty I’m having is doing my assignments without the aid of my Spanish reference books.  My parcel post package of books (which I mailed two months ago) never arrived.  The box was damaged in transit and its contents spilled out.  I’ve been working with my postmaster to try to recover these missing mail items from the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia and will probably file a claim for monetary reimbursement (the missing box was insured for $200).  I miss having my Spanish dictionary (I’ve been using Yahoo’s Babel Fish to look up words), verb conjugation book, and medical Spanish guide for psychologists.  Yesterday, I finally gave in and ordered duplicates of these books from Amazon.com so the remainder of the semester should go more smoothly once I have my trusted language tools.

I’m looking forward to attending my first National Latina/o Psychological Association conference next month in San Antonio.  It will be wonderful to hear many of the Latino-themed sessions, learn about current research in the field, and meet my fellow colleagues (in fact, one of my fellow interns from our University of California – Santa Barbara days will be one of the presenters).  OLLU, one of the NLPA conference co-sponsors, will be hosting special events — a reception, student poster session, and a reading — as well.  This should be a very good experience.

Part of the reason for having this blog is to share some useful resources with my readers.  Regarding issues of Hispanic/Latino culture, I have posted a few educational items.  Check these out:

Overall, I’m making very good progress towards my sabbatical goals.  I’m learning a lot and enjoying my time in San Antonio, Texas.


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