Thirty-five SMU science and engineering students are spending spring break 2014 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they are attending the Minority Trainee Research Forum. Students will present 15-minute research presentations at the scientific meeting. Participants are members of the STEMPREP Project at SMU, a mentorship and internship program for minority students interested in S.T.E.M, medicine and biomedical research careers. The trip is led by Charles Knibb and Moses Williams, research professors of teaching and learning at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
An update from Karma, a junior human rights and political science double major with a minor in law and legal reasoning: As I return from the 10th Annual SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage, I have a shadow lingering over my head, a shadow that has existed since March 15, 2011. Today – March 15, 2014 – marks the three-year anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian Revolution. Born to Syrian immigrants, I have been greatly influenced by Syrian culture, history, and most importantly, the people. Throughout my entire life up until I was 17 years old, I spent every summer vacation in Syria. I never thought my last day in Syria would be my last. As I think about Emmett Till, [...]
An update from Kayla, a sophomore human rights and economics double major: On March 11, the Edmund Pettus Bridge was officially declared a National Historic Landmark, and the pilgrims were there to witness this historic event.
An update from Lisa, senior human rights and psychology double major: Little Rock Central High School - site of the Little Rock Nine integration implementation in 1957. Tree in front of Little Rock Central High School Display of an experiment conducted to investigate the effects of segregation on children in the museum section of the LRCHS National Historic Site. Black and white children favored white baby dolls over black dolls during a series of categorized tests. Protestors for segregation - Recognize any commonalities to modern time political and social issues? Lady Opportunity - One of the Greek goddess located above the main entrance of Little Rock Central High School. This statue [...]
An update from Denice, a graduate student in Liberal Studies, with an emphasis on social justice and human rights: The poem "Hands," by previous SMU Civil Rights Pilgrim Chrysta Brown, brought the events of the past to the forefront of my mind. Her poem expresses the appreciation of those well known and those unknown Heroes and Sheroes of the Movement through imagery of hands. I think of those that went before me, paving the way for my freedom, education, ability to choose where to live and the ability to choose a career. I, too, would like to touch their hands and give a personal "Thank You!" to each and every one. There is no real way to do this but [...]
I thought the adventure was supposed to be in Cuba. Although reflections on my last night in Cuba kept me awake until after 1:30 a.m., my energy was not diminished when I awoke at 6:30 a.m. My friends across the street again agree to heat water for my morning maté, starting the day off on a pleasant note. I did most of my packing last night, and thus have ample time to write a little on the blog and enjoy an unusually large breakfast in view of our day’s schedule and the likelihood of having to forego lunch. We meet in the lobby of Saint John at 10:45 a.m., which gives us some margin before our scheduled 2:30 p.m. departure [...]
Bahama Mockingbird with breakfast bug Tomorrow we head back to the U.S., which means this is our last full day in Cuba (and I do mean full day!). Notwithstanding the many activities in our schedule, I have from time to time been enjoying short forays around the campus at Matanzas – and earlier, in Havana, too – to indulge my love of birding. Absent the help of a printed field guide for birds in Cuba, I am delighted to discover that many of the birds here are recognizable and quite similar to North American species with which I am familiar. Each day in Matanzas I have enjoyed the song and antics of a Bahama Mockingbird – a “life [...]
At the White House The next morning Lucy and I woke up for breakfast with some of our classmates. She was more than a little disgruntled, though, because the hot water in our hotel room didn’t seem to be working! The Tabard Inn continental breakfast was somewhat unconventional, compared to the other hotels at which we stayed. We walked into the restaurant, sat down, and ordered off a menu — but the food was still complimentary until after 9:30! Lucy and I barely made it in time — at 9:20, we joined the guys, Kelly, and Hope at their table. After we had ordered, I sat back and observed my classmates. All were relatively cheerful, despite the previous [...]
It’s been a while since I last wrote; this is because we had our first travel break! I went to London, Paris, and Málaga for the first travel break and had an amazing time! London: I flew to London with my American host sister and some other friends from DIS. They stayed in a hostel while I stayed with my old roommate (and great friend) from SMU at the London School of Economics. I tried to meet up with my American host sister and friends to tour, but none of us had phones that could work without WiFi. I ended up touring London on my own; it was great to be independent! Buckingham Palace An hour before the changing of [...]
An update from Candice Bledsoe, the founder and director of the Cutting Edge Youth Summit and a fellow for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education: The pilgrimage to experience learning about France and the Holocaust has been profound and moving. Learning about the dark years in France confirms that history must be shared to avoid repeating the past. As a mother, I found it extremely difficult to see the town of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a beautiful city of 642 that stood on a beautiful landscape. The Nazis burned the entire town, while shooting men and women in their legs. Only five people escaped. To visit the town today and bear witness to these crimes is very emotional. The remains [...]