Saturday, December 29, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt and ALMas

It was Theodore Roosevelt, my favorite President, who said,

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

And also,

"Anyone can give up; it's the easiest thing in the world to do.  but to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."

Thank you T.R., for always giving me that slap in the face to get back to work.

I finished the book.  And now it's time to manage myself and GET WORK DONE to help kids achieve their potential.

I'm in the library for the next 7 days in Texas before heading back home.

This is my to-do list for today:

1.  Create "topics to cover"
-add in summarized material 
of what I've read (synthesis)
2.  Create "need to know" 
information document for
all members to know
3.  Background research on HeadStart schools

My to-do list for the week:


UPDATE 12/29/2012 at 3:36 PM:
I finished my to-do list!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What I'm Reading Right Now

I'm reading this right now to help guide our curriculum development and lesson planning:

Understanding the Language Development and Early Education of Hispanic Children

by Eugene E Garcia and Erminda H Garcia

I've learned quite a bit so far.  And I'll be posting some startling statistics and lessons learned.

Here's the first one:

"In the 0 to 8 age group in 2000, almost 46% of the Hispanic children had mothers who had not graduated from high school, while this was the case for only 9% of White [children 0 to 8]."

And ever more scary:

"Twenty percent of Hispanic children had mothers who had not gone beyond the 8th grade compared to 1%" of White children.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This Blog's Dedication

Hi All!

This blog started out as my own personal one (and all posts before this one come imported from it).

But I soon realized that when I embarked upon a new journey in my life, I thought I could share it with the world.  So I am.  The journey to create ALMas.

I will now devote this blog to the step-by-step developments on how my team and I develop and create ALMas, an afterschool program dedicated to reducing the achievement gap between Latino students and their white peers by providing extra literacy instruction to preschool ESL latino children.  All run by college students.

This is the journey.

My team and I, we move together to something bigger than just me.  But something great.


I hope you all follow along and learn something.  We will be learning quite a bit.

Thank you,
Marvin Espinoza

Thursday, December 13, 2012

First ALMas Executive Board Meeting

Today was the first meeting of ALMas' FIRST Executive Board.

Can you believe this?

An idea that began only as a thought 6 months has official documentation, a leadership team of volunteers, and we're starting to create lesson plans and going through as much research literature to build our curriculum and class strategy.

This is the group:

Board Member
Marina E. Castro
Marvin Espinoza
Cristina Ochoa
Director of Communication/Relations
Melissa Marquez
Director of Social Media & Outreach
Vidal Anguiano
Director of Volunteer Involvement
Joshua Saucedo
Daniel Ramirez
Director of Operations
Spencer Claxton
Research Committee
Joseline Gomez
Research Committee
Christian Sanchez


When I led our first meeting, I was blown away by the genuine excitement among this group of loving people.  Who want to do good.

Who want to be led to do something good.

Who trust and believe in me to lead them to that good.

I'm scared as hell of failing them.  Of being revealed to be a fraud.

But I'm too far into it now to back away.  Because they need me to work.

And I'm going to work.

Winter Break Plans:

1.  2-3 hours of exercise per day
3.  ALMas research and weekly meetings--construct lesson plans
4.  Read "Theodore Rex" by Edmund Morris
5.  Watch a lot of T.V.

And ultimately:

Enter winter quarter fresh, strong, and good.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Few Thoughts

Pitched today to OLAS (technically, yesterday) and it went great.

But now the real work lies ahead, and it's time to get down and dirty (in a good way) for the kids.

I'm scared.  Scared of failing.  Scared of being unable to rise to the occasion.  But I this fear is the reason why I have to and want to do this.

We'll see what I can do.  For now I also have to figure out how my grades can improve, especially after last week's super lackluster performance.

Econ I think I can manage.  Epi too.  But I can't lock down comp sci.

I think I'll have to finish up Econ and Epi immediately during the weekends, and just focus on comp sci on M, T, and Wednesday.

This leaves Thursday and Friday for economics. 

All right.  Fingers crossed all goes well.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Met with Marina Castro, who is in a latina sorority and guess what?  Her sisters and herself are going to be part of ALMas!



Things are happening.

Link to My ALMas Presentation

Here's the link to go beside my presentation/pitch.

ALMas: The Pitch to OLAS Wednesday

Here's the pitch.

First I’d like to say thank you to Melissa, Darcy, and Christian for allowing me today to talk to all of you about an exciting idea—at least I think it’s an exciting idea.  And thank you all for coming today.  To those of you who don’t know me, my name is Marvin Espinoza.  You may have received an e-mail from me over the summer, haha.  All the same, it’s really heartwarming to have you all here, and I hope you enjoy the next few minutes.

Now I’d like to share with you a little story about myself.

Both of my parents are immigrants from Nicaragua.  They came to this country as 22 year-olds with nothing to their name.  Just dreams for better lives.  And when I was born, their dreams changed.  They wanted a better life for me.

But I was lucky.  Mom and pops were both educated and motivated individuals.  My papa graduated from Minnesota State after getting his GED.  My mama attended engineering school up until her third year when she had to drop out to take care of her family in Nicaragua.  So when I was old enough, my mother recognized I had to go to school—but she had no idea how or where to enroll me.  She knew little English and knew the state of Minnesota—where we lived at the time—even less.  But one day as she was walking around the streets of Mankato, MN looking for a school to drop this kid into, she stopped a random gentleman on the street and asked in her broken English, “Where can I go to enroll my son in school?”

The gentleman oddly enough gave her specific instructions to follow.  Little did she know that what came next may have dramatically decided the trajectory of my life.  She followed the directions to St. Peter and Paul’s Church, a private very expensive catholic school.  So when she sat down with the principal, she found out she clearly couldn’t afford the school’s tuition.  You know, she thought it was a public school! But the principal told her to bring in our family’s income statements—and the school lovingly took me in.  I received a high-class education for pre-k, kindergarten, and 1st grade that was second to none.  My mother even learned what types of activities she was supposed to engage me in: reading, writing, summarizing, and comprehending books.

Then we moved back CA where I temporarily attended second and third grade in a Hispanic ghetto.  And one moment, my father told me, he realized I had picked up the vernacular of the neighborhood, the slang, the uneducated “Mexican” accent—and after a gang fight right outside of our apartment, we left.  The other children weren’t as lucky.  But even during this time, my mother made me read novels, The Hardy Boys, and made me summarize the text to her all the time.  Testing and developing my reading comprehension consistently and frequently.

Then we moved to Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian community that highly valued education—my friends were talented, motivated, educated, and driven to succeed.  And I attended a public school that was in the top 5% in the nation, and my teachers stayed after school with me for tutorials in math when I didn’t perform well.  Then when I moved to Texas in 2008, my teachers believed I could do something and recommended me to the University of Chicago.  And here I am now, like all of you! 

And now you ask, why am I telling you this?

Because—and I’m not sure of all your own individual histories—but if they are anything like mine, or you know a friend’s story like mine, you know being a child of a latino immigrant family with nothing, could’ve begun and ended very differently.  But I was lucky.

And here I am with all of you, of the same skin color, of the same type of hair, and of the same ethnicity:  Latino.

Here we are.  Educated.  Motivated.  Intelligent (well, I’m not sure I am anymore—I used to think so!).  Headed towards a future of accomplishment and raising intelligent and well-educated children that will follow suit.  You and I have talents above the average.  Abilities above the average.  Vocabularies and ambitions above the average.

We even have people in our lives that believed and still believe that we are above the average.  Who have pushed us beyond.  Challenged us to think critically.  Strategically.  Creatively.  People who have asked us the complex questions growing up that hardwired our brains to perform above the average.

But now here I am asking to you use those talents within you and perform above the average for our community.  Because we face a problem.  A BIG one.


The children of our community, our Latino youngsters, are dropping out of high school at higher rates than any other minority in the United States, and on average they lag behind their white peers academically at all grade levels k-12, especially children from immigrant parents.

They are being born to homes that unfortunately will most likely lead them on a path to intergenerational poverty.

Young Hispanic children from immigrant families tend to be born to homes:
1.      that are poor
2.      with parents of very little formal education
3.      that are linguistically isolated (only Spanish-speaking)
4.      that don’t enroll their children into pre-k programs

However, the two most insidious obstacles facing our children’s homes are their POVERTY and LINGUISTIC ISOLATION.


In a study by Hart and Risley, these two researchers on childhood development attached microphones to 42 parents of three different socioeconomic levels—Professional, Working-Class, and Poor (Welfare receiving)—and monitored how frequently they engaged their children, talked with their children, counted the number of words and different words their children were exposed to—and they figured out the relationship between language exposure, child development, and cognitive ability.

[Explain data]

At 12 months, an average child from the professional family was cumulatively exposed to 11 million words.  At the same age, a child from a poor family was exposed to only 3 million.  A gap of 8 million words at the first year of life.  Then at 48 months, an average child from a professional family had been cumulatively exposed to 45 million words.  A poor child, 12 million.  A gap that began at 8 million words grew 300% to 32 million.  And this gap only continues to grow as time progresses.  And sensibly enough, Hart and Risley found a strong relationship between language exposure and cognitive ability.

This is the result of two factors that are different in these two households.  Professional parents talked more frequently with their children and used more advanced vocabularies.  They asked them questions like WHY and HOW, forcing their kids to think critically and expand their vocabularies at faster rates and understand relationships between objects, ideas, and situations better than their poor peers.  Put simply, professional families prepared their children for the advanced vocabularies and the analytical thinking that comes with more advanced vocabularies to understand college textbooks and become prepared for a work-force that requires technically and technologically capable individuals. 

The poor children?  They don’t receive this exposure.  Our Latino children don’t receive this exposure.  And they end up like their parents: in poverty, uneducated, and stuck.  Stuck because they didn’t develop the cognitive skills to succeed in school. This is what the research suggests consistently. 

But they don’t even just face a poverty barrier to success; they face a language barrier.  In fact, 30% of immigrant Latino children are not considered English proficient, when English proficiency is a key determinant of academic success!


But we can do something.  We can be resources for these children between the ages 0 and 8 when they are most cognitively malleable, when their brains are just absorbing information and experience like a sponge absorbing water in a desert.  We can give them the access to the educational capital lacking in their homes and communities: educated people that stimulate their minds and grow their vocabularies! 

We can give them access to us.  We can be their educational capital.

In an afterschool setting, we can expose them to and make them absorb:
•      Our rich vocabularies to develop theirs
•      Our inquisitive natures to develop theirs
–     Asking them the WHY’s and the HOW’s like the professional parents by reading with them, playing with them, and engaging their minds
•      Extra enrichment in literacy in whichever language they are most comfortable in because if we can develop a kid’s language and thinking in Spanish, they easily translate that to English
•      A culture of learning, of curiosity that they can bring to the classroom and ask their teachers in the future

This is ALMas’ purpose.  The reason why I’m speaking to you today.  This student organization’s sole purpose will be to immerse pre-k Latino children in educationally and linguistically rich environments to challenge and grow their minds and capabilities.

Because studies on early childhood education are unanimous in their findings:  if we start early, we can help close these education gaps.  After the formative years, when the mind of the child is malleable and just absorbing up information, after this window of opportunity closes, it becomes significantly more difficult to pull them up and help them succeed.

I don’t promise that we’ll close the gap.  I can’t do that.  What I can promise is that we’ll start here, and we’ll work ourselves up to kindergarten, to first-grade, and maybe even further to create a “conveyer belt” of intellectual exposure and development so we can constantly stimulate these children’s minds with educational capital every step of their educational life.

I’m prepared to work as hard as I need to.  And I don’t expect you to change your entire schedule for me.  But I am asking you to join me in this journey to level the playing field a bit for Latino children, our children.  The only thing you’ll need is your heart and construction cap.  Because we’re in a construction zone right now, and things can get tough when we’re trying to build opportunity.  But the heart—it provides the diligence we need to keep going.

Para ayudarles lograr mas.

To help them achieve more. 

Because I see myself in these Latino children.  And because I see my parents in theirs as well, just trying to do what’s best for their child so that child can do better than themselves—but not knowing how.  My life could’ve gone the opposite way.

If it weren't for my mother who made me to read when I was younger, who read to me every night, who ensured my English proficiency was high; if it weren't for the quality pre-k and kindergarten in Minnesota that exposed my brain to educational capital; if it weren't the lucky accidents in my life like that gentleman who directed my mother and being born to educated immigrants; if it weren't for teachers who took time afterschool until 4pm to help me go over math problems when I almost failed---I would never have been able to attend the University of Chicago, one of the nation's premier universities.

I want to share some of this luck, to be honest.  These children deserve better from us.  They deserve to know they can do notwhat we've been able to do.  No, that’s too easy. 

They deserve to know they can do better.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fear and Progress

Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels 
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.
The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have.  You are so far.

Excerpt from Pablo Neruda's "Here I love you."

In a few days I'll be pitching ALMas to OLAS--this Wednesday in fact.  Started back up reading about other early childhood programs across the country.  And soon I'll be pitching the idea to my friend's latina sorority to get some real human capital and support.

I read Whatever It Takes by Paul Tough, and it was exactly what I needed.  A re-orientation.

Monday, October 15, 2012

ALMas: The Journey So Far

And lastly, please let me fill you in on what I've been able to determine as of now with regards to ALMas and its direction:

The organization, tentatively called ALMas ("Ayudandoles Lograr Mas") would gather bilingual Spanish-speakers on campus to provide pre-school ELL students (or students the school describes as academically at risk given their familial, language, and income background) of hispanic/latino descent with extra academic enrichment with a focus on reading comprehension, literacy development, and access to academically and educationally rich environments of college mentors.  The program would most likely take place within a HeadStart program attached to a public school.

I've also had the honor and pleasure to meet with Molly Thayer, Director of Literacy for the Uchicago's Urban Education Institute (UEI), and she gave me the UEI's commitment to train students/volunteers participating in my club to administer and teach according to the UEI’s comprehensive STEP education evaluation for students in prek-3rd grade--so that members and I can now move forward crafting an actual curriculum and materials list and exercises for the pilot-program.  Of course, we are still in the planning stages of the program with curriculum development at the forefront of our efforts right now.

And just as exciting, I just spoke with Lucy Hall, UChicago's Jumpstart Program Coordinator, and she's agreed to share with me Jumpstart's curriculum and lesson plans, as well as committed to train the core group of my volunteers on how to work within a pre-school environment with children, how to administer a structured lesson plan, and provided acces to DePaul University's Jumpstart that works with ELL students of Latino descent.

Slowly, things are coming together to provide an environment for young DLL latino students to grow intellectually, socially, and academically through literacy development and mentorship.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Time and Learning

If there are only a few things I've learned in the short twenty years of life I've lived, it's these:

1.  Even when you find out what you want to do in life, it's still hard to get your ass off the bed and actually do what you know you've been made to do.

But I'm doing it, damn it.  Met with Shaz Rasul, Program Director of Neighborhood Schools Program, and Lucy Hall, Program Coordinator of Jumpstart here at UChicago.

I think I just landed an ALMas-Jumpstart partnership for curriculum, volunteer training, and pre-k children mentoring experience.  BOOM.

2.  Inspiring others to follow you takes commitment and work.  You have to give back to your helpers.  You gotta make sure you value them!

3.  In the end, you can choose your friends and you have to love your family and friends.  Why waste time with those that don't make your life happier?  Talk to those closest to you; open up; be stupid, be funny, be sad, be mad--be complete.

4.  This is just for me, really.  With respect to women, I honestly don't know much in this arena.  And I've definitely screwed the pooch many many times.  But in any potential or beginning relationship, if you treated the other person well, I think you can expect at least a hi or something from that person when you pass by them.  I mean, it's courtesy.  It at least lets you know that you did something right--or else it just feels like you really make someone uncomfortable.  And that doesn't feel to good at all.

5.  I don't know.  Help kids.  Honestly, if that's the biggest thing I've learned, it's that.  Help kids.  Why?  Because they need it.  Now more than ever.

6.  Study hard.  I know I've been.  I'm in the library a lot.  One or two days, I'll be a little less on my game.  But I'm on it right now.  And it feels good to know I'm not wasting these last few precious years running around chasing frivolous things.

7.  Love unconditionally.  Be merciful.  Because you never know when you'll need mercy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I'm Building ALMas

Because at the end of second-quarter of my second-year in college, two (whom I presume are) close friends of mine told me something that shook me to my core and made me re-evaluate what I was doing with my life:

"Marvin, you're not a leader."
And it is not out of hate, nor out of want to prove the contrary to them or to myself, that I push forward now to build and create ALMas.


I do it because God has given me talents to use for His work and benevolence.  And that requires me to lead.  To take the stage and do something right for once.

And really, it comes down to Lincoln's view on life:

"When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."

There comes a time when a man sees himself for who he is.  At is at this point when he can decide to stay the same or change for the better.

Monday, September 24, 2012


YES YES YES YES! Met with Molly Thayer, Director of Literacy for the Urban Education Institute (UEI). And guess what? 

Got a commitment from the UEI to train students participating in my club to administer and teach according to the UEI’s comprehensive STEP education evaluation for children in Chicago schools! ROCK ON!

Getting closer to the dream.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Por Que Campesino Soy

Inspired by Neruda's Here I Love You

Here I Love You in the Sun's Nettle and Tatter

Over the tattered shade of leaves and branch,
the sea of fauna and flora breathe and sway,
the white sun's rays pierce and play,

'til the wind settles
and the ray nettles
in mine eye--

'nd you arrive,
your hand raised
o'er mine eye
to my heart staid--

stopped still
in a longing shade

'til the shade waves
and the tatter meddles,
a single leaf, to unsettle
the nettle ray,

breathing and heaving
the almond mends
much as it bends

'nd gone they are
your hands in the sea
hidden in the tatters
on the ground, scripted.

Sometimes the tattered shades wake me up in the early mornings--and even my soul is turned to mud.

Here I love you through the trees, the sun, and the dirt.
I love you still among these hidden things.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Just about to give up--and then...!

After a somewhat demoralizing day of learning that there's so much research and literature on ELL teaching, I felt like throwing in the towel.  Like I couldn't get this done.  That I just couldn't do this.

And then Melissa, Community Chair from OLAS responds to e-mail after a month.  That should help me get volunteers.

Her e-mail was a message from God.  I don't know why, but I was just worried I wouldn't be able to get this thing going--with all the materials and planning.

But I got this.  I want to do this.  ALMas is going to happen, in one way or another.

I've got the contacts; I'm building collaboratives and human capital; I'm putting in the elbow grease (and now I have to more than ever with the amount of reading I now just learned I have to do).

Next steps:

Go to Richard J. Daley Elementary tomorrow and find an ESL teacher and ask for contact information as well as the teacher's lesson plans so I can start structuring the afterschool program around it.

That's what I call working around obstacles.  Forget teacher's strike.  I need to get in contact with that school's ESL teacher(s), SO I DAMN WILL.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Goals Achieved for ALMas so far

  1. Recruited 1st Advisory Board Member
  2. Contacted Richard M. Daley Elementary and submitted proposal
  3. Scheduled meetings with a few after school programs
  4. Found ELL book with curriculums, materials for instruction--and it's all evidence-based!
  5. Reading and creating lesson plans with the ELL book
  6. Close to successfully recruiting Academic Advisor for ALMas, maybe Professor Janet Sedlar
  7. Found out my neighbor has contacts that have contacts in Chicago doing exactly what what ALMas does!  He's going to hook me up with them!
  8. Recruited my bro (well, sis, I guess?) Emily Kratz to get involved with ALMas
    • She'll help with assessment of children's capabilities
  9. Figured out I'll focus on ELL K-1st grade instruction only
What needs to be done still:
  1. Recruit more advisory board members (slowly but surely)
  2. Begin planning and creating recruitment materials/presentations for spanish-speaking students
  3. Create list of materials needed for curriculum (on-going)
  4. Contact some peeps in Texas and mentioned in the book about already established curriculums that can be adapted to an afterschool setting
  5. Hear back from Richard M. Daley Elementary (the teacher's strike is preventing me from doing so!     :[  I am not happy about that.  The principal and administrators are busy, obviously  But I'll call them again this week to see what can be done and the progress.
  6. Apply for Registered Student Organization (RSO) status
  7. Meet up with an ESL teacher (Quinn's contact comes to mind.  Time to set up a meeting.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Next Steps for ALMas

These are the next steps:
  1. Contact the principle at Richard Daley Elementary and request/schedule an appointment ASAP.
    • Pitch the idea, ask questions pertaining to what the school would like, transportation, and ESL teachers available.
    • Get contact information from ESL teachers
    • Figure out if there will be an extra need for financing/grants
    • If so, begin search for grants that the school can apply for
  2. Research after school academic focused programs in Chicago
    • Contact the program directors and ask to meet with them
    • Ask for sit in on their program
    • Learn about their model, approach
      • Take notes and figure out what I can copy/emulate and tweak
  3. Draft program model and proposals for curriculum
    • If necessary, develop curriculum from example programs (if financing for RAVE-O is unavailable)
  4. Contact potential ALMa tutors whom I've already e-mailed and heard from.
    • Provide them updates and ask their opinion
    • Ask to meet them in person to discuss their participation in the club
  5. Plan tutor recruitment
So I'm thinking of a new name for the club:


Literally translates to:  "Souls"
Can be interpreted as:  "All Mas" which is a combination of English and Spanish for, All More
Acroynum for:  Ayudandoles Lograr Mas, Helping them achieve more.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Club Planning/Problems & Feelings

Had a great time with my father and sister today at Sea World.  Wish my mom could've come too, but she was working.  :[  Though, I don't think she would've had as much fun, since she gets tired from walking only an hour.

But back to more pressing issues and priorities:  ALMa.

So I was thinking about how this program would start and where it would be housed.  I have already spoken with Cristhian Espinoza-Pino, founder of PALMA at the University of Michigan.  PALMA is the program I want to somewhat emulate, while also taking a few lessons from Moneythink, the financial education non-profit begun at the University of Chicago that is expanding fast (and I used to be a part of).

So here it is:
  1. It'll probably have to be based at an elementary school, in the school's library (for access to books and reading materials), and after-school (if not during school for an amount of time).
  2. I want to focus on two groups: Pre-K to 5th grade students.
  3. Separate the students into two separate groups:
    • Pre-K or Kindergarten
    • 1st - 5th grade students
  4. Background of children: children whom the school either considers at-risk, or comes from the following background:
    • latino
    • low-income household
    • parents have attained low education
    • displays difficulty academically to learn
      • as measured by teachers or the school.
  5. Once the target population of children have been identified, give them handouts to send to their parents detailing a new after-school or during school program for the children.
    • Children bring back the handouts signed (hopefully).
  6. ALMa peeps and I review how many tutors we have available and take as many kids as we can, focusing on reading comprehension.
    • For Pre-K and Kindergarteners, we'll follow curriculum from CPS schools, and we'll probably have them in the school's library to focus on reading.  (The school's teachers could probably give us good insight into what they would like us to focus on).
    • For 1st - 5th graders, I'm still unsure.  I'd like to see what curriculum the researcher N.R. Riggs used for academic achievement.  Maybe I'd just use that.
      • Contact N.R. Riggs* from the research paper on the benefits of after school programs for migrant latino children.
      • *Tel.: +1-814-865-3356, E-mail address: (N.R. Riggs).
      • Ask how their academic after school program worked.  Try to emulate it.
        • From what i understand to so far, the after-school program was twice a week, and it consisted of:
          1. snack time (what were the snacks like?)
          2. homework time
          3. outdoor or group activity time (academic focus)
            • Need to find out examples of these activities
          4. academic achievement curriculum time (35-45 minutes)
        • I would need to discuss what a program based upon spanish-speaking volunteers would look like.  What to focus on?  Get a copy of that achievement program.
        • What is a must:
          • snack time
          • homework time
          • academic achievement program time
    • Total time: 1.5-2 hours (?), twice a week.
  7. What I need to do:
    • Find and contact elementary schools within reasonable reach via public transit that serve a heavy latino population.
    • Set up a meeting with the principal(s) to ask them if they would like a program like ALMa at their school.
    • If so, what would be the best way to implement the program?
      • What's transportation for the children look like?  
      • How will they get back to school after tutoring on the two days?
    • Find a faculty adviser for the club.  That's important.
    • GET SOME ANSWERS!  Time to get cracking this coming week for a good start to the year.

Other thoughts:

I don't feel connected to people I should feel connected with.  I don't know.  I also tend to be repulsed by the idea of a relationship at the moment, even though I may like someone--but it's probably because I don't want to get burned again.  And probably because I think the girl I may be interested in probably has no interest in me whatsoever, or she may like someone else at the moment.

Either way, I'm happy to focus on my goals and the people that are relevant to helping me achieve those goals (good ones, too!  Not businessy ones)--but everyone else (except a very select few) really just annoy me...and I have to really hide being annoyed.  Sometimes, they just talk about the most pointless things.  Or I'm just becoming a prick.  

I don't know.  I haven't been this driven for a while.  

I need to go for a long run.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

ALMa Focus Plans

First focus for the younger children:

  1. Reading skills.  Reading comprehension.  That'll be one of the major focuses for the club.
This is according to the data and the research:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time to Call in the Big Guns

All right.  I've committed to starting ALMa (Ayudandoles Lograr Mas).

Helping them achieve more.

That's the name:


"Ayudandoles Lograr Mas"

I'm in it to win it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

An Excerpt in Truth I'd Been Running From

But I can't express enough
how excited I am
speaking to Beth, the program director
and seing what PALMA has done and what it's doing
I've been trying to run away from the idea that because I'm latino, I have to do stuff with the latino community
that it was cliche
but, I don't want to run from it anymore, because I found that immigrant issues, and children specifically, really energize me like nothing else
I love it dude, plain and simple. Little latino kids should be able to get to a great school like I did.
and do way better than I can

Plain and simple:

"Little latino kids should be able to get to a great school like I did.  And do way better than I can."

Monday, July 23, 2012

To Start Again, That takes Courage

I read this, and I was recalled to life:

And we discovered that it is only by releasing ourselves from our self-imposed limits that we can finally see the power and beauty of the runner inside each of us. 
And most importantly:
"The miracle isn't that I finished . . . The miracle is that I had the courage to start." 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Running and Writing

I write and I run.  And I do it again, and again, and again...until I hope there's nothing left to write, nothing left to keep running to...or from.

I write exactly the same as I did four years ago, and I haven't changed.  I write how I feel, and I feel exactly how I did before:  as a Romantic stuck. 

I run to ruminate and mull over my thoughts, to get everything I can't stop thinking about out of my head, to force it out through my skin as tears swell up as lumps of sweat running down, stinging my eyes with their bitter salt rubbing against a regretably festering sore.

They say it's crazy to do the same thing and expect a different outcome.

I think it's crazy to do entirely different things and expect the same outcome.

The Friction

The friction intensifies,
the heat builds and kills,
as the skin heaves n' cries.
As it blisters in its shrill;

until it vomits its globs,
sick to its stomache,
cleaving at its core,
begging for a cleric.

The globs form and storm
down the walls of fatigue:
the muscles broken weak,
the friction left forlorn.

'til the drop, with their salt,
embittering the vision
with the sting of old fault,
dissolving into the depths
of pereption:

infecting every lens--
the quick, torrid taint of a lost history.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Progress: Slow and at times, Regressive

I will get into contact with Cristhiano Espinoza-Pino, founder of PALMA.

I will do it, damn it.  I'm going to do it.

Work at the office has been great: slow at times, because it's difficult to find state revenue data broken down by particular taxes.  But I'm going to get it.  Period.

Lastly, I think I may have--just maybe--found what I'd been not looking for.

But I still haven't completely moved past...well, the past.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Love: The Nemesis of Cowardice

"I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving, or not loving well--which is the same thing. And when the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the is because they love with sufficient passion to push Death out of their minds. Until it returns, as it does to all men."

-Character of Hemingway in "Midnight in Paris" (Film). WHOA

Honest.  True.  When we finally find what our heart has wanted since it began pumping the livid juice of life through our bodies, nothing will stand in our way.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brainstorm ESL Curriculum #1

Daily Exercises at the beginning of class:


In Spanish Greeting: Hola Ninos!  Como estan ustedes?

Children reply.

In English: 

Hi children!  How are you today?

Children reply.

Go over how to greet individuals.  Have children greet each other.  

On board: Hola = Hi

Como = How, esta = are, usted/tu = you?

Go over this in class.

Have children shake each other's hands and save, "How are you?"

Response to greeting:  

Estoy = I am, bien = all right/good

Teacher says: 

MANZANA!  (Rules established, when teacher says "Manzana!"  children reply, "APPLE!")

"A mi me gustan las manzanas!"  Translates to:

I like apples!

"To me, I = a mi," "me gustan = like," "apples = las manzanas"

"Las manzanas ayudan a el corazon!  Y tambien ellas limpian a mis dientes!"

Apples help my heart!  And they clean my teeth!

(Integrate healthy associations with curriculum).


Ahora vamos a cantar el alfabeto.

Now we will sing the alphabet.

Ah Beh Seh Deh Eh Efe ge(heh) hache Y jota kah ele eme ene oh peh cu ere ese te ooh ve doble ve equis i griega zeta

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

ah buh kuh duh eh fuh guh huh (ihhhn) juh kuh luh muh nuh ahh puh kuh ruh sss tuh uhhhh vuh wuh cks ya zuh

Looking for ESL Curriculum: How to Teach Kids English

So this is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.

How do you teach children ages 5-10 English?  Finding a set curriculum online is almost impossible.

I find I'll have to follow these steps:

1.  Contact ESL teachers from Chicago and ask best way to approach this.

2.  Contact latino organizations that could point me in the right direction.

3.  Figure out a way to customize the curriculum so that Spanish-speaking college students can teach kids.

4.  Figure out logistics:

Will this be an after-school program?
During school program?
 Will college tutors need to be trained by ESL teachers willing to help?
Will the partnership turn into college kids helping out in an ESL classroom?   
Or will they have a separate class time?

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm Good: Workin' Hard, Creating Victory Plans

I'm back, baby.

Hard work, easy.

Goals for the Summer:

1.  Awesome internship experience and work
2.  Write more posts in my Economics Blog
3.  Log my marathon training and Marathon Training Blogging
4.  Learn Econometrics
5.  Read Healthcare Regulation in America, and four other books
6.  Draft plans for student RSO that would teach spanish ESL elementary students English
7.  Just TRAIN HARD.

MOTTO over the Summer:

That it?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Good Lesson to Learn

It's never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be.There's no time limit.Start whenever you want.You can change or stay the same.There are no rules to this thing.We can make the best or the worst of it.I hope you make the best of it.I hope you see things that startle you.I hope you feel things you never felt before.I hope you meet people who have a different point of view.I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start it all over again.
- Eric Roth screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Hopefully I'll have the courage to live a life I'm proud of.  I'm getting there.  It's taking me time.  Oh, it's definitely taking me time, but I'm getting there.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Beaver: What is Crazy?

From "The Beaver" (2011 Film):
Crazy is being miserable and walking around half asleep, numb, day after day after day. Crazy is pretending to be happy. Pretending that the way things are is the way they have to be for the rest of your bleeding life. 
All the potential, hope, all that joy, feeling, all that passion that life has sucked out of you. Reach out, grab a hold of it and snatch it back from that bloodsucking rabble.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Our Greatest Enemy (Re-Post)

Re-Post: Our Greatest Enemy

I thought it applicable to re-blog this post. I think I need it. So here it is:

Our Greatest Enemy
There are times when we fall into a lull. When during our final push running to the finish line, we slip into a glaze of emptiness. This is when we are most vulnerable to loss. Most vulnerable to losing everything we have because we stay gone--unattached from the world around us; enclosed in our little world of failure and unwillingness to exert ourselves beyond. The glaze falls over our eyes--the life and fire in them disappear.

In this state, we question everything we've lived for. We question what it means to be. What it means to do. We question our character. Our will. Our fortitude. Sometimes, our faith.

Be sure, this state: we all experience more than once. And each time, we must question what we are. Who we are. What we're made of. It's at this point, the violent calm comes before the gleaming storm--when we give up our state of numb and immobile for the taste and touch of misery and beauty, of constant fatigue and gratifying movement.

We wake up, and we pick up our pace--pick up our knees, quicken our stride, pump our arms, exert our legs, heart, soul, and mind to a higher level of unimaginably terrible pain because we know why we've been running--and cross the finish line. Lungs on fire. Legs on fire. Every breath a gift from God.

We collapse. We gasp. But we pick ourselves up. We rise. One knee up before the next. We look up. We've done it. We've seized the win. We've done our best. We've escaped from the dangerous pitfall that is our own self.

Because we, ourselves, are our greatest enemy.

Get to that finish line. Get at it. Get there.

That's it.