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Aguila Symposium held at ASU West Campus,
June 25th-27th

Honoring Box Activity in partnership with the Cultural Arts Coalition on Friday, June 26, 2009, 6:00- 9:00 PM


Leadership: We Remember, We Recognize, We Believe
2009 AGUILA Leadership Symposium
June 25 – 27, 2009
Arizona State University at the West Campus

The Institute

AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute is a year round program that provides youth of Latino heritage with the necessary college knowledge to achieve their dreams of a college degree. Seminars are held once a month and students are required to attend and actively participate in all activities that will contribute to their college knowledge. Participation in the Institute comes with special privileges as well as access to a variety of resources, experiences and a network of professionals dedicated to assisting an Aguilita.

Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez, MPA, CEO/Founder of AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute. AGUILA, a private nonprofit, is a tax-exempt 501© (3) charitable organization.

Mission Statement: To empower and prepare Latino/Latina youth for college admissions and graduation through a unique approach based upon a greater cultural understanding as a guide to personal, academic and professional achievement.

No nonprofit is able to function without its Board of Directors and volunteers. These persons give countless hours unselfishly to support the mission of their chosen organization. We thank them...

The Cultural Arts Coalition partnered with AGUILA to provide a 3-hour arts workshop for 130 high school and 22 college youth as the conclusion of a 2-day symposium with guest speakers and information necessary to assist participants in moving toward a college education.

Symbols and Honoring Boxes (Spaces)

Lesson plan written by judy butzine and Melanie Ohm, June 09

The primary Goal of this lesson plan is to create a material form that objectifies the act of giving honor and respect to the processes of Personal Remembrance and Intention Setting.

Melanie Ohm, Concepts Consulting in collaboration with the Cultural Arts Coalition, reviews with the Resident Advisors, the steps for this 3 hour program, instructed at the training session the previous week. The RA’s – both current college students and graduates - are AGUILA Alumni.

First, the reading of the book in the “Circle of Power”. The RA’s and their “familias” (student cohorts) separated into groups of 15 participants to begin discussion and reading.

The 3-hour activity is also based on the concept of symbolism, which predates language as a means of communication. Symbols retain their expressive power and value in our society today, and are revealed in the youths’ stories of self and goals for the future by creating Honoring Boxes as material forms that illustrate values, ideas and beliefs.

Meanwhile ASU graduates and artists Dulce Juarez and Francisco Garcia from the Cultural Arts Coalition review for themselves the evening program and how they will assist the RA’s and the student participants.

Table set up for the Honoring Box activity to take place once the reading of the book introduces the context.

judy butzine, co-founder/co-director of the Cultural Arts Coalition sets the stage in the center of the room as visual reinforcement for the concept of symbolism and Honoring Boxes as a material means to convey a person’s story.

The evening begins with a dialogue about SYMBOLISM. Silvia Rodriguez (Cultural Arts Coalition) looks on.

Dulce assists with a group discussion...

Each page of this bilingual story about Cesar Chavez is read as the book is passed around and a key thought on that page is discussed by all. These thoughts are recorded for synopsis and review as a group later.

Cesar Chavez: The Struggle for Justice
Cesar Chavez: La lucha por la justicia

by Richard Griswold Del Castillo (Author)
Anthony Accardo (Illustrator)
Jose Juan Colin (Translator)

Beginning with Chavez's early childhood on his parents' farm in Arizona, the biography tells of the family's time as migrant workers during the Depression. It also discusses Chavez's long years working to organize the United Farm Workers and his determination to use non-violent means to overcome discrimination. These actions were inspired by Gandhi. Chavez often went on hunger strikes and led labor strikes and boycotts. The history professor Griswold del Castillo presents the story of the struggle led by a brave American worker who made a difference. A useful time line at the back of the book summarizes Chavez's life and politics. This book communicates a thoughtful and meaningful lesson for youth today.

Everyone found this reflective time to begin the total workshop a powerful means to recognize and set one’s own goals for life.

After the book was read, discussion of the following questions prepared participants for the honoring box activity:

  1. What influenced Cesar Chavez and shaped him as a person?
  2. What did he appear to value most?
  3. What was his vision?
  4. What were his personal strengths?
  5. What were the resources around him that he drew upon to realize his vision?

ALL of the student participants now visit the table in the center of this large space to review their discussion of symbolism.

Wonderful conversations arose around the paintings and artworks of Luis Gutierrez, Martin Moreno and a Mexican artist’s creative expressions.

Francisco Garcia had just finished this painting of Frida Kahlo for his mother and brought it for the evening.

The Honoring Box – Some Background

As an act of art making, the honoring box holds meaning. Its context is the rich history of humanity. We are still people seeking to find answers to the challenges of life – the reason for being. judy butzine, 2009

Let the activities begin...

In creating the Honoring Box, the youth were asked 3 questions that motivating questions:

  • Building upon my personal strengths and the resources of my expanded community, what future do I envision for myself?
  • What are the steps I might take to realize my personal vision?
  • What tools, resources and people provide me with information about myself, my strengths and my future?

    Creating an Honoring Box

  • Go through the magazines provided on the tables thinking about the above questions, tear out images and text that have personal meaning. You may also use the paper, markers and other items to create your own symbols and thoughts.
  • Decide what the focus of the box is, what is most important to you? identify that image/object and put it in a central place in the honoring box.
  • Constructing the box – use the tape provided!
  • Other materials provided: feathers, pipe cleaners, colored paper, markers, beads (each person may select 6-8 beads)

    Resident Advisor, Jesus, with his designated group, Hot Latinos

    Melanie documents all throughout the 3 hour arts workshop

    Francisco talks about the evening program and the symposium with Mr. H.

    There is always some down time to create the small diversions that keep the evening fun

    RAs are dedicated AGUILA Alumni who come back to the nest and live by their motto, Pay It Forward, by caring and guiding those Aguilitas who follow them. A critical component of AGUILA is the continuation of “familia” in bonding as a developmental asset contributing to college success.

    Silvia and Dulce marvel at the witnessing of this lifting exercise with only 2 fingers!!!

    Meanwhile the hour and a half honoring box activity continues to evolve with the addition of symbolic beads.

    Music is of course continuously playing in the background. For this almost 2 hour block of time the sounds and rhythms of Quetzal Guerrero were sent out ...

    Youth were asked in their introduction letter to the symposium to bring pictures of family and loved ones who have been their mentors.

    Many thoughtful minutes were spent looking through magazines for those meaningful phrases and symbols that intuitively inspired a moment of reflection that resonated with each youth on a personal level.

    Then finally the moment of each person sharing the story of their box with the rest of the group.

    Questions were presented for the evaluation of the total evening’s workshop. Note some of the answers at the end of this review.

    1. What new understanding did I gain about my personal strengths and resources?
    2. How will this material expression I created be a meaningful reminder of my intentions to honor myself?

    ALL 140 youth created a box and reflected upon its Meaning & Significance to their lives...

    A perfect moon to end a perfect evening of honoring self through Remembrance and Response as one continues the journey through education and life...

    Reflections on the Honoring Box Activity (JUST A FEW)

    Honoring Ourselves and Envisioning Our Futures

    June 26, 2009

    1. What new understanding did I gain about my personal strengths and resources?

    That I’m different, and I can change my weakness into strengths by looking at the positive side.
    That everybody has different strengths. I get my strength from my family and friends but also from my failures.
    I learned that they make me the way I am, who I ought to be, and what I want to be.
    I learned that family is extra special to me and that what happened in the past always seems to just make me stronger.
    The new understanding I gained was that I am more driven than I had realized, and I will not let anything get in my way.
    I gained the understanding that I believe in my future and that the past has taught me to keep moving forward.
    I learned that many young adults, as myself, have the same strengths and passions.
    That I only am as strong as the people that support me.
    That I am dedicated and I enjoy eating and having fun.
    I gained more focus on who I really am.
    Really nothing, I’m not saying I know everything about myself, but everything has been pretty steady about me.
    It was a reminder of who I really am and what I want to do.
    I have finally understood what I have and can have by looking at different things and creating something that is me.
    I understand what I really wanted in life.
    That I am outgoing and resourceful.
    I understand more about college.
    That every once in awhile I can be open to new ideas.
    It reminded me of all the people that support me.
    I have many strengths and I want to be a pediatrician.
    A better tomorrow starts today.
    That I am artistic.
    The words on my box remind me of my personal strengths and resources.
    Connections I’ve made thus far. My strength was looking forward for college and the future.
    I learned that I want to have success and have fun while doing it. I want to follow my dreams and give it my all.
    I gained a lot of strengths, including family bonds. My knowledge for school, determination, my resources are my niece and friends, always family.
    I learned that I am the future and who I can rely on to help me and give me the support I need like my family...

    1. How will this material expression I created be a meaningful reminder of my intentions to honor myself?

    My box will remind me of my goals and my present. It will make me visualize all I want out of life.
    That I am who I am thanks to the people that I know and care about me.
    What I want to become and what I want to do with my life.
    It’s an intention to honor myself because it expresses my dreams and it has my family on it.
    I will express how important my roots are, as well as keeping my motivations on my mind to succeed.
    It can help me remember phases of life that I’ve been through and the ones that can come.
    To see what matters to me and where I want to be if I am ever feeling lost of doubtful.
    It will be a meaningful reminder by letting me read and see important sayings and my future.
    To stay true to what I want.
    All the items that I have on it will be a big reminder.
    It shows me who I want to be, what I want to be and where I want to be in life.
    It will remind me to stick to my dreams and goals.
    I will look at it and remember where I started and what I plan to do. It will remind me what I have experienced and what I will.
    It will help me remind myself what I want.
    It will remind me of what I am and who I can be.
    That I can go to college.

    It will constantly remind me of who I am.
    It will help me remember my goal and to never give up.
    I found new things about myself.
    It will help me to remember and it will inspire me to accomplish what I want to do with my life.
    By reminding me of my goals.
    It will be meaningful by reminding me of my goals in life.
    It was very meaningful because this will help me not fall off track. Also so I won’t forget my dreams and accomplish them.
    Every time I look at this box it will remind me of how my family’s love will help me get through life and how I will try my best and give it my all in everything I do.
    I will look back on my creation to reinstate my goals and what I’m aiming to do. They will never be forgotten.
    That I will honor my family and my state and that I was smart, a nerd, and it inspired me to be and do better...

    Review by judy butzine and Melanie Ohm


    The Mission of the Cultural Arts Coalition, Arizona: 501 (c) 3, a nonpartisan organization in existence since 2005: stimulates creative, analytical and leadership development for personal transformation and collective change through celebrations and multidisciplinary learning experiences.

    Music used with permission from Quetzal Guerrero.

    CD is Cascabel by Querrero and Gustavo Angles. Song El Coronel written by Quetzal

    Quetzal’s musical exploration began in 1986 when, at the age of four, he began studying the classical violin method of Suzuki and in the following year traveled to Matsumoto, Japan to further his studies at the Suzuki International Institute. His meticulous skills lead him to be the featured violinist for the Conservatorio Pernambucano de Musicas annual recital in Recife, Brazil.