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From Jamaica To London: CSUSB Students Spent Their Summer Studying Abroad

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- From cobblestone streets in European cities to lush greenery in tropical paradises, Cal State San Bernardino offers students an array of locations to study abroad. With more than 20 countries available, and 14 programs scheduled during summer 2017 alone, there is a place of interest for virtually every student.

The annual three-week study abroad program to Jamaica and the annual four-week program to London both wrapped up in July. The programs, like all CSUSB’s study abroad programs, are a blend of traditional academic studies and cultural exploration.

This year, 12 students participated in the Jamaica study abroad program, which took place June 26 to July 16. The program began in 2006 and materialized after Rafik Mohamed, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, spent 10 days on the island as a member of the production staff for a large music festival.

“I spent most of my time with Jamaicans who were also working for the festival, and they introduced me to places and people tourists typically don’t encounter,” said Mohamed, who also has ancestral connections to Jamaica. “Because of that experience, and more significant than my family ties, I felt Jamaica was a place that could meaningfully put on display for students what I’ve come to describe as the ‘paradox of paradise.’”

According to Mohamed, Jamaicans often refer to their homeland as “the land of contradictions.” While it is often viewed as a tropical utopia, Jamaica faces many social challenges and is heavily tied to its colonial past.

“We, therefore, challenge our student-participants to consider the contradictions captured by this juxtaposition between the images of Jamaica put forward by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the vastly different economic and social conditions experienced by everyday Jamaicans,” said Mohamed.

Through an interdisciplinary curriculum and community engagement involving formal partnership with local community agencies, the program offers students an overview of Caribbean society and culture from the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the present. Activities include visiting different towns and historical plantations, hiking up waterfalls and even touring musician Bob Marley’s home.

“I really enjoyed the activities since they were related to what we learned in class,” said Jasmin Limon Acosta, biological psychology major. “It was a really great experience embracing it all and seeing how different the culture is.

I also liked where we stayed — it was very local and we got to speak to a lot of the locals and interact with them.”

Students learn from various texts including poems, short stories, music, and historical and sociological articles and essays. The program includes curriculum from sociology, marine science, English, communication, philosophy and theater. Mohamed plans to add anthropology to the agenda in 2018.

“Participating in the Jamaica summer study abroad program was an experience I will never forget. From the classes, readings, excursions and tours, to the community involvement and social gatherings, I will admit that it made learning about the Jamaican culture much richer than sitting in a classroom and getting lectured on it,” said psychology major Ana Romero Baltazar.

“With the knowledge I have gained from this trip, I feel as if I can see the world with a much more open mind, and make connections that I could not have been able to do so before learning a bit more about the history of a different culture,” Baltazar said. “The three weeks felt as if they flew by, but I am thankful for each day I was there, for all the people I met, and for the way the program was structured and put together.”

The London study abroad program, which took place June 27 to July 28, was led by Bradford Owen, associate professor in the communication studies department, and Cherstin Lyon, associate professor in the history department.

Twenty students immersed themselves in academic classroom teachings as well as excursions to cultural sites, theater plays and historical places of interest.

“London is a richly multicultural city with inhabitants from all over the world,” said Owen, who lived and taught in London for an academic year while he was a visiting assistant professor in USC Annenberg School of Communication’s London Program. Owen also co-founded the London study abroad program in 2013 and has co-directed it for the last five years.

For biology major Gabriela Ochoa, it was a trip of a lifetime, satisfying both her desire to travel to London and her college requirements.

“I knew my parents didn’t have the resources to send me on their own, and when I saw I can go with school, I took the opportunity,” she said. “Not only was I visiting the city of my dreams, but I also got school credit for it.”

The academic courses, which were held at the FSU London Study Centre, included HUM 340: Interpretation and Values, taught by Owen, and SSCI 325: Perspectives on Gender, taught by Lyon. HUM 340 explored the similarities and differences in British and American values and cultures through British cinema, while SSCI 325 used scientific, humanistic and social science perspectives to foster an understanding of how gender roles in Western culture are established, maintained and changed.

Syeda Rahman, an English literature major, took Owen’s HUM 340 class. “The course was designed not to overwhelm us with assignments, but to soak in the entire experience, including excursions, the topics we talked about, our stay at Newman House, our stay as a group and also the class assignments. I thought, overall, it was great learning experience.”

Liberal studies major Jocelyn Rodriguez found Lyon’s SSCI 325 course to be eye opening. “Dr. Lyon is a really great professor, and she was able to get us to see gender through multiple different lenses that I would never think to view it through.”

The program also offered HUM 582: European Experience, an independent study course in which a student undertakes independent work under supervision.

To learn more about the city, students participated in four day-long excursions, which included a six-hour walking tour around central London, and admission to six major sites: Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, the Churchill War Rooms and Tower Bridge Exhibit. In addition, students partook in out-of-town trips to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath.

For Karen Watkins, who graduated this past June with a bachelor’s in sociology, these trips related perfectly to what she was learning in Owen’s HUM 340 course. “I enjoyed how our class discussions and films revolved with what we had already seen or were about to see. London was indescribably beautiful. Everything I saw, I will carry with me.”

The program also featured five in-London events, including two theater performances (one at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre), a guided tour of the Tate Modern gallery, the “Making of Harry Potter” tour at Warner Brothers UK, and a farewell afternoon tea.

For the first time in the program, CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales met with the study abroad group for a couple days. He visited Lyon’s SSCI 325 class one morning and joined the group for a walking tour in East London.

“I truly enjoyed having President Morales in London,” said Syeda Rahman, who believes the president’s visit broke many barriers for a lot of the students. “Now I feel that I can go up to him and have a conversation or just write to him. I think it was a great opportunity for me to have him in London because I probably would have graduated without even getting to know the president of the university.”

Jocelyn Rodriguez enjoyed her experience with President Morales as well, and feels she got to know him on a one-on-one basis. “I was able to ask him questions about his life, his education and how he got to where he is in life right now.”

CSUSB also offers summer study abroad programs to places like Mexico City, Italy, Costa Rica, Spain and Taiwan.

For more information on study abroad programs at CSUSB, visit the Center for International Studies & Programs at international.csusb.edu/studyabroad.aspx.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

Valley College’s Singing Chef Combines Culinary and Performing Arts

William Lacey, Class of ’18, provides live vocals for “I Will Never Leave” by Maura Townsend’s Project21Dance.

William Lacey, Class of ’18, provides live vocals for “I Will Never Leave” by Maura Townsend’s Project21Dance.

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Good food and fine entertainment always seem to go well together, especially for San Bernardino Valley College student William Lacey, 26, of Highland.

This master of the arts is not quite sure which one will win out in the end?—?his standout vocals or culinary prowess. Eventually, he would like to combine them at his own restaurant where he can train chefs to prepare Cajun cuisine, and maybe indulge his operatic side every now and again.

Lacey is a natural classical aficionado. He has had three years of classical vocal training at SBVC, and credits his instructors for keeping him on track with his career and education.

A private voice class helped Lacey hone his skill, and one day after choir, he sang the national anthem for SBVC Music Department Chair Matie Manning Scully.

“She looked at me and said ‘Kiddo, you’ve got a great voice. I would love to work with you.’ It started from there.”

Lacey also performs regularly with choreographer Maura Townsend and her Project21Dance Company. During Black History Month, he sang his richly-layered baritone rendition of Paul Robeson’s “Ol’ Man River” as part of Townsend’s “Hope Through the Struggle” event held at San Bernardino Valley College.

He said that Ms. Townsend, an adjunct professor at the college, has also been instrumental in giving him a creative venue for his artistic side.

“From that point, we kind of hit the ground running. She asked me to join her company, and I continue to do pieces with her dancers,” he said.

Lacey grew up in the city of Highland, where his grandmother was his best critic at church and home. It’s also where he, his mother and grandmother would often sing gospel and cook large family meals together. When his grandmother passed away, it was the toughest time of his life. He barely spoke complete sentences throughout junior high school.

In 2018, Lacey is on track to graduate with an A.S. in Restaurant Management and an A.S. in Business Administration. He credits SBVC with giving him the tools to move forward with confidence. 

 

Over the past four years, he has worked as Chef De Partie at Forest Home, Inc., where he navigates a fast-paced food environment, oversees utility workers, and handles about one million meals per year. In the past, he has interned at the Hilton Hotel and the Sun Room Cafe as a line cook.

When he first started at SBVC, his goal was culinary arts, but he soon fell in love with opera in his choir class elective. Without any prior formal training, developing his operatic side came with a learning curve. It took about two months for his voice to readjust to a classical tone.

“I’m connected to it, I listen closely to the detail, the emotion in their voices because I understand it now,” he said.

In his day job, he prepares breakfast, lunch, and dinner with finesse, and is also known as “the singing chef.” It’s an unexpected niche that often draws an encore.

“I’ll sing a song about halfway through the meal. If the people like it, they say, ‘Oh, can you sing another song before we leave?’ It works, I get to sing opera to an audience that actually enjoys it.”

Law Office of Zulu Ali Names One of the Best 10 Law Firms in California by AIOLC

RIVERSIDE, CA- The Law Office of Zulu Ali in Riverside, California has been named one of the 10 Best Law Firms in California for Client Satisfaction in the areas of Criminal Defense, Immigrations, and Personal Injury by the American Institute of Legal Counsel (AIOLC). The annual list honors exceptional performance by California law firms in selected areas.

The AIOLC is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes a yearly list of the Top 10 Law Firms in each state. Attorneys and firms selected to the “10 Best List” must pass AIOLC’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations and AIOLC’s independent evaluation of attorney’s relationships with and reputations among their clients.

The law firm was founded by its owner and principal attorney, Zulu Ali, a Tennessee native, former police officer, and U.S. marine veteran, who was inspired by the work and legacy of civil rights attorneys Thurgood Marshall, Avon Williams, Jr., Charles Hamilton Houston; and other advocates and leaders of the civil rights movement. The mission and philosophy of the firm is to advocate for changes in the law when the law is unjust.

Although the mission and diverse makeup of the law firm subjects it to immense scrutiny, the firm continues to be inspired by its mission to preserve and fulfill the legacy of those leaders and advocates of the past who sacrificed to make a more just society.

“I believe the mission of a lawyer should be to strive for change and challenge the courts when there is injustice. In our firm, we put it on the line despite the immense scrutiny and consequences we may face. But for brave attorneys and advocates who are willing to step out the box, we would still be in segregation or servitude if the laws and courts were not challenged. Many attorneys and advocates are chilled and neutralized because they are usually targeted, ridiculed, and subjected to reprimand or worst when they test the status quo, but it is necessary despite the risks” Principal Attorney Zulu Ali adds.

The firm’s founder and principal attorney, Zulu Ali, been named Top 100 Lawyers by the National Black Lawyers – Top 100; Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers; Premier 100 Trial Attorneys by the American Academy of Trial Attorneys, also known as the National Academy of Jurisprudence; Top 10 Best Lawyers by the American Institute of Legal Counsel in the areas of Criminal Defense, Immigrations, and Personal Injury; and Top 10 Criminal Law Attorneys by the American Jurist Institute.

For more details about The Law Office of Zulu Ali, visit www.zulualilaw.com