Sunday, April 18, 2010

El Dia del Niño-The Day of the Child

Image from
El Dia del Niño (Day of The Child) is celebrated in Mexico on April 30th. Our service-learning partner, Casa de los Angeles, will be sending our ASL class a variety of photos of this celebration taken at the daycare center. So, check back in early May to see these photos.

Since 1925, this annual holiday honors the importance and well-being of children in society. Celebrations can include cultural events, parties, parades, piñatas and fundraising for the benefit of children. Many communities in the United States also celebrate El Dia del Niño, some in unique ways, such as libaries launching literacy campaigns.
El Dia del Niño is celebrated not only in Mexico, but in other Latin American countries as well. Below is a video clip of the Festival of El Dia del Niño Añu in Venezuela. This ethnographic film was funded by the Anthropology Dept. at UC Santa Cruz. The filmaker describes the video as follows:

"This is a short ethnographic exploration of the annual "Day of the Añu Child" festival held in the Sinamaica Lagoon in July. The Sinamaica Lagoon is located in Venezuela's Zulia State, adjacent to Lake Maracaibo, which is the largest body of freshwater in South America. Its home to the Añu indigenous community, members of the group live in small houses built on stilts rising out of the lagoon's brackish waters.

The main form of transportation for the Añu is by lanchas, small shallow boats powered either by small outboard motors or paddles. The ancestors of the Añu were the first South American inhabitants to make contact with Spanish colonials.

Today they practice a religion that is a hybrid of catholic faith and animistic religions that pre-date Spanish influences, as in the representation of the Virgen de Carmen as both the Virgin Mary and Madre del niño Añu" (

On an international level, UNICEF and other non-profit organizations raise awareness of the rights of children, for example, by celebrating World Day Against Child Labor, this year on June 12th.

"World Day Against Child Labour, celebrated on 12 June, this year highlights the continuing challenges to eliminating the worst forms of child labour, with a focus on exploitation of girls. Here is a related story. KIPUSHI, Democratic Republic of Congo, 12 June 2009 Covered in powder, Sylvian, 2, sits alongside his mother, pounding rocks with a mallet in an ore heap in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rocks, dust and sun: This is the only life Sylvian has known. According to Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to be protected from economic exploitation. Through the efforts of Group One, a UNICEF-supported Belgian non-governmental organization, this is starting to happen in DR Congo. Group One and UNICEF are working to remove children from the hazardous working conditions in the quarry and get them back to school"
(UNICEF: June 12: World Day Against Child Labor from ( This summarizes the following video on the subject.

Do you know of any other countries that have similar celebrations of children? If so, please feel free to share your comments.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Service-Learning Students Speak

We have just finished the first week of our online international academic service-learning course for the spring quarter, 2010. The students are ready and eager to learn and begin planning for our service project for Casa de los Angeles in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I thought I would share some of the postings on our first discussion forum online.

"(After) reading the information, I am excited about participating in helping Casa de Los Angeles, and being in a team that can help to inform others about their mission and vision.
I had chosen this class was because I was looking for a chance to give back, but didn’t know how. When I saw this class I knew I had to take it! I hope to gain and learn knowledge of how I can contribute and help out even if I am not located in the place that the help is needed." -V.A.

"I am interested in what this class will teach me. I know we live in a world filled with different cultures and it will help me understand why people are the way they are. The service learning project, I think, is great because it will allow us to closely interact with our service learning partner. I think that community is doing an awesome thing, which is to give back to the less fortunate. It's good to know that there's a commnuity out there who prides themselves in helping others and bettering their life." -A.A.

"I have a keen interest in the service learning project, which can widen the opportunity of community learning. We can share our mutual ideas through this project that will be very effective for our collective achievements. I am so delighted to know the works and achievements of our sharing partner Casa de Los Angeles. I appreciate their noble missions which can bolster us to dedicate our lives for the welfare of our community. I think throughout the course, we will learn something valuable that we can use in our career. I am eagerly looking forward to getting involved with our service learning project and working with our venerable partner." -M.A.

"I think this is wonderful and I'm very excited about this project that were are going to be doing. I think Casa de Los Angeles is a wonderful way to help the communities in Mexico. They are obviously doing a wonderful job and just by reading about it and watching that video opened my eyes. I had no idea that there were people that made places like this possible and to help women better themselves is just remarkable. I think the more people know about things like this, the better. Because the moment I knew about it, I wanted to help and be a part of this in some way. I think that they are really onto something and this non profit organisation may spread like wild fire to places that really need it." -A.K.

"I truly believe that our service learning partner, Casa de los Angeles is a wonderfull organization and I am so happy to be included in a movement like this. I hope to learn more about the culture of the people that are involved in this organization and hope to learn what we as a community can do to better the lives of these people =)" -D.P.

"I believe that our service learning partner and project will lead us to acknowledge what really goes on in different parts of the world where people are less fortunate and in need of our help. I admire the founder of Casa de los Angeles, Donna Quathamer, for her hard work and huge heart in starting this non- profit organization to provide a place for mothers to be able to find support to better their lives and the lives of their children." -V.R.

"I am so excited about our partner Casa de los Angeles mostly becuase it is non-profit, which is something that I want to become a part of once I am done with my education. I intern at a non-profit right now as well. I hope to learn all I can about our partner and I look forward to this class as well." -C.W.

What a great group of students!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's New With Our ASL Partner?

Our academic service-learning course, World Cultures online, has officially started, and students are becoming familiar with our international ASL partner, Casa de los Angeles, a non-profit daycare center in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. So, what is new with Casa? Here are some updates from their website and Facebook page.

Casa de los Angeles is one of the official charities of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon! Visit their TEAM CASA Facebook page HERE

The 10th Anniversary of celebration of the founding of Casa de los Angeles is on May 22, 2010. The dinner and silent auction is called Angeles & Milagros (Angels and Miracles) and will be held in Oak Brook Terrace, Illinois. For more information click HERE.

Casa de los Angeles is on Good Search, a search engine that donates a penny to your charity everytime you do a search. All one has to do is go to, type in Casa de los Angeles as the charity and the pennies will go to Casa.

To keep up with Casa news, visit their Facebook page and add them as a friend HERE.