Category

Education

ONE on ONE

by Mayi de la Vega

Here Comes CasaCuba

By | Culture, Education

An inside look at Florida International University’s new Cuban cultural center and think tank.

I recently sent out an announcement about my joining the board of advisors at CasaCuba, a Cuban cultural institution, community center and think tank at my alma mater Florida International University. There’s so much more to its story that I thought I’d share all the good news.

The concept and space are the first of its kind in the U.S., and I’m so proud that our city is going forward to make this dream happen. When CasaCuba’s new home is completed in 2024, it will be a global destination for Cuban heritage through multiple galleries for exhibitions and a state-of-the-art venue for diverse programming from performances to dances. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in interactive, digital experiences with the latest technology like listening to Cubans’ oral histories. Scholars, business leaders and policymakers will have access to its Cuban Research Institute, a think tank that promotes valuable discussions on where we’ve been and where we’re going, how do we preserve our heritage while addressing our current status and needs. But you don’t have to be Cuban or Cuban-American to benefit from this incredible resource for the whole community. Everyone is invited to learn about Cuban culture and to join in the fun like sipping a cafecito on the front porch.

The dream started five years ago. If you haven’t already participated in one of its interesting programs, I urge you to check out the calendar listing in the link below. Previous happenings include the Orígenes dinner series partnership with FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and the Contemporary Cuban Literature Circle collaboration with Books & Books, for which Richard Blanco inaugurated by reading an excerpt from his book “The Prince of Los Cocuyos.”

Upcoming virtual events are conversations with Bacardi USA former president and ceo Eduardo Sardiña for the Chaplin lecture series on November 12; and with Juana Valdes for the Contemporary Cuban art series on November 17. Dr. Rafael Rojas, a professor at the College of Mexico who has written extensively about the intellectual and political history of Latin America, speaks for the Briefings on Cuba lecture series on November 19. Tune in for pianist Enrique Chía’s “An Hour Remembering Our Music from My Living Room,” a virtual concert of classic Cuban dance habaneras, criollas and guajiras, on December 6.

I’d also like to congratulate local architect René González whose firm was awarded the commission to design CasaCuba’s brand-new, multimillion-dollar, 57,000-square-foot building. Having taught architecture at FIU decades ago, he called the honor “the most meaningful commission of my architectural career.” The commission is even more impressive considering the level of talent from his competition including the late Zaha Hadid’s London firm and Arquitectonica International based here. González’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest and The New York Times. Among many attributes, he was selected for previous projects that address cultural and environmental factors.

CasaCuba is fortunate to benefit from the involvement of many local organizations and businesses. It received major grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A portion of Bacardi USA’s recent gift of $5 million to FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management expands CasaCuba’s programming. I’m doing my part, too, in offering a $5,000 challenge grant in honor of Give Miami Day on November 19. Please consider lending your support as well to create a home away from home for all Cubans and the community at large.

https://casacuba.fiu.edu/

 

Every Vote Counts

By | Culture, Education

This month celebrates the centennial of U.S. women’s right to vote.

Seventy-two years. That’s how long it took from the first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was signed into law on August 26, 1920. Throughout the month of August, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the suffragist movement’s incredible achievement: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The women’s vote centennial is being honored across the U.S. with myriad events that culminate on August 26. I’ve included a couple links below to brush up on your history to fully appreciate how far we’ve come and how much work remains. As the female founder of my real estate firm, I deeply respect these historic figures for the road they paved for me and other women to follow their dreams, first by being able to cast a ballot. In poring over the links’ comprehensive timelines and priceless photos, I discovered so many details beyond the basic lessons we learn in school about iconic suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Of all places, I never thought Wyoming, then a territory, would be the first place in the U.S. to pass a women’s suffrage measure in 1869, and that Colorado would be the first state to adopt and amendment granting women the right to vote in 1893. (Even though the movement began in New York, it wouldn’t be until 1917 that it passed there.) Other interesting details are that suffragists were the first protestors to picket at the White House; 32 men were among the signees to declare the nascent movement back then in Seneca Falls, and several notable Black suffragists including Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells-Barnett contributed greatly to the cause. With another election year upon us, I’m grateful for their tireless efforts.

An in-depth resource to find out more about nationwide events is the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative (link below). This week features virtual lectures by top professors on the subject, online tours of exhibits, women-themed film screenings, a virtual Equality Weekend in Seneca Falls, livestreamed concerts from Nashville, a historic reenactment of Stanton circa 1866, and many more great activities. The website also provides educational materials on where we stand today. For example, women make up less than 20 percent of elected officials in Congress, and only one in three eligible women voted in the last presidential election. As you can see, we still have a lot of work to do!

https://www.2020centennial.org/

https://floridasuffrage100.org/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/17/us/suffrage-movement-photos-history.html

Back to School

By | Education, Philanthropy

Help our fantastic local charities gather school supplies for underserved children.

From Lotus House to YoungArts, children’s charities have always been near and dear to my heart. They need our help even more due to the pandemic, especially with how it’s affecting the school year. Many local non-profits are organizing school supply drives for struggling families. Here are ways to get involved to alleviate kids’ anxiety in these tough times. Every little bit goes a long way.

The Little Lighthouse Foundation

For its 2020 Back to School fundraiser, the Little Lighthouse Foundation hopes to have enough supplies for 1,500 underserved students. The team plans to distribute them to children at Excel Kids Academy, B. Wright Leadership Academy, Fienberg Fisher K-8, the Motivational Edge and Carrfour on August 21. Check out LLF’s web site to learn more about its profound impact on South Florida and how to volunteer in other aspects.

https://www.classy.org/campaign/llf-back-to-school-2020/c289736

The Salvation Army of Broward County

The Salvation Army of Broward County is having to adapt its programs for the coronavirus. Its inaugural “Stuff the Bus” virtual school supplies drive takes place August 3-17. Drop off items or donate through Walmart’s online registry as well as the Salvation Army’s secure portal. Supplies will be distributed in time for the start of the school year.

Salvation Army’s shipping and drop-off location:

1445 West Broward Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33312

Online donations:

https://give.salvationarmyflorida.org/browardschoolsupplies

Walmart online:

https://tinyurl.com/StuffTheBus2020

Walmart drop-off locations:

4700 South Flamingo Road, Cooper City

2500 West Broward Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale

6001 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs

Lotus House

Focusing on homeless women, youth and children, Lotus House is invaluable to our community. It doesn’t just provide food, clothing and shelter but everything to live a well-rounded life from education to play. In addition to everyday necessities and school supplies, they’re asking people to sponsor summer activities. Whether ice skating field trips or ice cream parties, these simple pleasures bring a sense of normalcy for the kids. Sponsor summertime fun by emailing love@lotushouse.org. For general donations, click here:

https://lotushouse.kindful.com/event/support-lotus-village-?fbclid=IwAR1yNLHQMLjCvF-9GxmNa08Ro95TWVdThrV60XuZBj-5cnJtXoxQDWK-W9k&mc_cid=290608daba&mc_eid=cc461c3135

United Way of Martin County

Because of the highly difficult year, United Way is spearheading the county’s main school supply drive. Through partnerships with Publix and other individual and corporate providers, the Tools for Success program is creating basic supply kits for elementary school students. Whether in-person classes resume or virtual classes are to be, a lot of local kids will be prepared.  www.UnitedWayMartin.org/ToolsForSuccess