Thursday, September 29, 2005

Julia by Sam
By Samaris Ayala

If they didn't help Julia
How can I imagine
For my art to be special
Just like to teach
If they refused to help
My imagination
Is viewed as special
My work is a catharsis
Of many emotions
And at times I'm misunderstood
That's all I do
If they refused to help
What can you expect from me
Her words were
In her time she had
Yet she yearned like
me to be appreciated
She was the voice
of many
Yet she died inebriated

NYC-based Samaris Ayala contributes her poetry to Puerto Rico Sun. She may be reached at

Originally uploaded by minusbaby.
Puerto Rican flag in East Harlem

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

In One Hundred Years of Solitude
By Samaris Ayala

Why do I need to surrender to enemies of my memories
It is the birth of urgency to scream
To express ones inner most feelings and thoughts.
On paper is a betrayal to ones privacy, to write
Yes I divulge a thought, and I fear for my life and
those of
my clan
In my life, those nearest are revealed

Mourning initiates torrents of thoughts
And in our renewed journey we revise life
because of death
Presently I am in an array of colors that represent
I grieve because of secrets, some which slip by

In One Hundred Years of Solitude
I find comfort
To comprehend that life did not begin with
My birth, but rather with history

To create ones heart in order to prepare for
Tribulation is the journey
If one refuses to be vulnerable
One becomes a statue

New York City-based Samaris Ayala contributes her poetry to Puerto Rico Sun. Ayala may be reached at

shell searching

shell searching
Originally uploaded by luckd.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Education Corner

Innovative Program Champions Educational, Socio-Economic Advancement of Nation's Largest and Fastest-Growing Youth Population
Washington, DC – Responding to the urgent need to promote reading achievement among Latino youth, Scholastic, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Verizon Foundation today launched Lee y serás® (Read and You Will Be), a groundbreaking Latino early literacy initiative that engages parents and communities in the literacy development of their children. Latinos represent almost 20% of the U.S. population under the age of 18 -- the largest minority segment of the nation's student population. Currently, Hispanic achievement rates in all levels of education remain low. Latino students tend to lag behind their non-Latino peers academically, particularly in the area of reading, a skill that has a direct impact on learning. Sixty percent of Latino 8th graders and 57% of Latino 4th graders read below the basic level, an achievement gap that often begins before children enter school. Early literacy skills remain a strong indicator of educational success and -- because the fate of any society depends on how well it prepares its youth for the future - business and community leaders have collaborated on this innovative new approach to Latino literacy and achievement.

"The long-term economic and social well-being of the nation rests on the strengths and successes of the growing Latino youth population." said National Council of La Raza President and CEO Janet Murguia. "Beyond having a profound impact on the Hispanic community, today's investment in Latino early literacy will yield incalculable benefits to our nation by preparing the next generation of young professionals and future leaders."

"Improving literacy among Latinos is essential if we're to realize the full potential of our communities," said Alex Toro, Director of International Strategic Planning, Verizon and National President of the Hispanic Support Organization, an employee support group. "So, we've created a program that gives Latino families the tools they need to help children achieve in school and excel in skilled professions. We're confident that Lee y serás will help yield a strong, confident and well-educated generation of Latino leaders."

CentroNía, the first of several NCLR affiliates that will make the program available to families and communities in cities all across the country, hosted today's national unveiling of Lee y serás with children and families from the community participating. Today's launch featured the debut of, a dynamic, interactive Web site that is making the program available to community-based organizations and families nationwide. Additional Lee y serás program sites will be implemented by NCLR affiliates in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and New York starting later this year and into early 2006.

"CentroNía is a 20 year old organization dedicated to educating children, youth and families in a bilingual and multicultural community. An integral part of this mission is to help all families foster early childhood literacy, as a precursor for later academic success," said Beatriz Otero, Executive Director of CentroNía, CentroNía, an educational organization for children and families.

"Lee y serás reminds families that such traditional cultural practices as singing, reading and talking to children often and throughout day, and other everyday activities, can become meaningful learning experiences," said Teresa Mlawer, President of Lectorum Publications, a division of Scholastic. "Lee y serás helps to inform families and communities about the importance of early literacy, and demonstrates ways that families can prepare children to arrive at school with the knowledge and skills they need to be ready to read and learn - what could be more important?"

Engaging parents, caregivers, and community organizations and leaders...
Lee y serás takes a multi-faceted approach to improving early literacy development among Latino children. The program includes a dynamic, multi-media toolkit for community organizations, workshops for parents and caregivers, training for community leaders to support and advocate for Latino children, and online resources to engage families and communities nationwide. Lee y serás emphasizes learning, culture and family, and demonstrates how everyday at-home activities such as singing, cooking and storytelling help young children develop early language skills.

Elements of the Lee y serás program

- Training - Community partners provide a six-week workshop series for parents and for childcare and homecare providers, as well as a one-day or half-day literacy awareness institute for community decision makers.
- Online resources - offers tips, stories, and curriculum for parents, caregivers and community leaders placing a wealth of information within reach.
- Software - A state-of-the-art CD ROM toolkit for community-based organizations provides curriculum, family literacy tips, Community Resource Guide and a host of other interactive resources.
- Family Album - A CD soundtrack of stories helps parents learn how everyday activities contribute to early literacy development.
- Quality Literature - A beautifully illustrated bilingual picture book, Rin, Rin, Rin, by beloved singer, songwriter José-Luis Orozco, demonstrates how a family's activities with their child - singing, reading, and making rhymes - establish a foundation for literacy.
- Posters and Bookmarks - Community partners will receive fun materials to help engage community members in the Lee y serás program.

*** A Web cast of the Capitol Hill dialogue on Latino literacy and the achievement gap, as well as of the Lee y serás national launch in Washington, DC is available by clicking on the Lee y seras icon at ***

About Lee y serás®
Lee y serás® is a national Latino early literacy initiative that empowers and engages families and communities to foster children's literacy development. By providing research-based, in-culture, and bilingual curricula and materials for families, childcare providers and leaders, the program's goal is to create long-term attitudinal and behavioral change in an effort to help close the education achievement gap. Created by and for the community, the initiative is a collaboration of Scholastic, National Council of La Raza and the Verizon Foundation.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, videos and toys. Scholastic distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs, school-based book fairs and school-based and direct-to-home continuity programs; retail stores, schools, libraries and television networks; and the Company's Internet Site.

About National Council of La Raza
The National Council of La Raza - the largest national constituency-based Hispanic organization and the leading voice in Washington, DC for the Hispanic community - is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization established to reduce poverty and discrimination and improve life opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Four major functions provide essential focus to the organization's work: capacity-building assistance; applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy; public information efforts; and special and international projects. These functions complement NCLR's work in five key strategic priorities - education, assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, employment and economic status, and health. Headquartered in Washington, DC, NCLR has field offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Juan, Puerto Rico and in 2004 opened an office in New York City. Through its community-based efforts, NCLR reaches more than four million Hispanics through a formal network of "affiliates" - more than 300 Hispanic community-based organizations that serve 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia - and a broader network of more than 35,000 groups and individuals nationwide.

About Verizon
The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications. In 2004, the foundation awarded more than 26,000 grants totaling over $70 million to charitable and nonprofit agencies that focus on improving literacy, computer and technology skills, and identifying domestic violence solutions. The foundation uses its resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, and the economically and socially disadvantaged. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer 528,000 hours in their communities and provided $37.6 million in combined contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit

With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit

About CentroNía
CentroNía is a 501(3) non-profit community-based organization that provides affordable, high quality education, professional development, and family-support services to more than 1,000 low-income Latino, African American, and multiethnic children, youth, and families in the Washington, DC. In 1986, CentroNía (formerly known as Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center), began offering child development services to 15 neighborhood children. Throughout the years, CentroNía has evolved organically into a unique strength-based model for low-income families, which seeks to recognize and utilize genuine parent/family strengths and build onto them. For nearly 20 years, CentroNía has provided quality educational and family support services to hundreds of families, with the maintenance of accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). CentroNía has also received national recognition as a leader in early childhood education, as a model out of school care program, and as a center where parents receive the services needed to strengthen and sustain their families.


Source: NCLR Press Release

Pat at Cueva del Indio

Pat at Cueva del Indio
Originally uploaded by luckd.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rorshach image: El Malecon de Hatillo

Fancy Book
By Samaris Ayala

Fancy Book
My first love did not destroy me
As a pupil I was a princess
For you see my parents were prolitariats
In the old world, a few opportunities
I adored my teachers
They taught me well
Yet they could not prepare me
My first love did not destroy me
In my libraries there was no
accomodation for Puerto Rican literature
I read classics and my scriptures
Life was simple
My first love did not destroy me
At the fancy school
They handed me a book
I was first in my family
To go to a fancy school
None before me
I became absorbed and I began to wander
These anthologies were foreign to me
My first love did not destroy me
I was raised as a strict Catholic
My siblings and I worked while
going to school
Yes we were poor
But Unlike, Down These Mean Streets
We did not argue over color
My family was color blind
The world of Piri Thomas was
He dictated and I became frightened
Impressionable as a a child
Not until later did I comprehend
That my barrio was not ghetto
We were a communtity
We were barrio, not ghetto
Why was there so much confusion
When Piri Introduced himself
As a voice of history

New York City-based Samaris Ayala contributes her poetry to the Puerto Rico Sun. She may be reached at

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Visitando a mami, Utuado, PR

Visitando a mami, Utuado, PR
Originally uploaded by DeLares.
DeLares says:
"I happen to be driving to Ponce and was "beside myself" that I couldn't stop fast enough to photograph these two lovely women as they walked on a mountain road under a huge red parasol.....they looked a bit tired (so I wanted to think:) and I backed up and offered them a ride. .........After a cool glass of fresh lemonade (on their lovely country porch) I took this mother and daughter photo. Doesn't mom have the sweetest "mami" smile? Her visiting daughter had just retired as a chicago bus driver....... Mom (96yo) has never left the island."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Featured story:
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The Coffee Bag
By Samaris Ayala

The Coffee Bag
Every morning she
Goes through the same
With her little bag
To make coffee
She welcomes us
With every morning
It's a display
Of her innocence
Modern times of
Which she rebels
She is traditional
But her little coffee bag
Is our bell

Samaris contributes her poetry to Puerto Rico Sun. She may be reached at

El Zapatero, Camuy, PR

El Zapatero, Camuy, PR
Originally uploaded by DeLares.

Friday, September 09, 2005

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Community News


Washington, DC – The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., today announced the establishment of the NCLR Katrina Relief Fund for NCLR affiliates to provide short-term emergency financial assistance to Katrina evacuees in their service area. It is estimated that many of the 100,000 Latinos who live in the affected areas have been displaced by the hurricane. NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia will be traveling with the American Red Cross to Louisiana and Texas on Saturday.

"We know from these affiliates and from other organizations which work closely with the Latino population in the affected areas that many in our community have been unable to obtain emergency cash assistance or are reluctant to ask for help due to language barriers and fear. NCLR will supply funds to meet the immediate and specific need for short-term urgent assistance that evacuees are unable to get otherwise. This will help them pay for emergencies such as plane or bus tickets or temporary housing," continued Murguia.

"Along with relief agencies, other nonprofit organizations, and the faith-based community including the network of Black churches throughout the country, NCLR affiliates have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help those whose lives have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We will work with these organizations to do whatever we can to support those extraordinary efforts, and we want to provide an opportunity for others to do so as well," stated Murguia.

NCLR and the American Jewish Committee have made a combined initial commitment of $35,000 to the Fund. All proceeds from the Fund will be distributed to NCLR affiliates serving those affected by the storm. Anyone interested can make a tax-deductible contribution to:

National Council of La Raza
Raul Yzaguirre Building
1126 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Attn: NCLR Katrina Relief Fund
or log on to the NCLR website,

Source: press release from NCLR
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old san juan shadows

old san juan shadows
Originally uploaded by trevorbrklyn.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Taíno - Guajataca, PR

Taíno - Guajataca, PR
Originally uploaded by jenjenjen.
"He greets you at the turnoff that takes you to the town of Isabela," says jenjenjen.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Community news


Washington, DC – A new publication to help safeguard Hispanics in the workplace, Know Your Rights on the Job Q & A was released by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. The fact sheet's question-and-answer format is designed to educate Hispanic employees on their rights and how to combat common forms of discrimination often experienced by this group.

"Hispanics accounted for more than one million of the 2.5 million new jobs created last year, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Many of these workers are either in relatively low-skill occupations or are immigrants or both. As a result, these workers are often unaware of their rights in the U.S. and are subjected to discriminatory practices," stated Janet Murguia, NCLR President and CEO.

The precarious working conditions frequently endured by Latinos are also addressed in Know Your Rights on the Job Q & A. According to an article published by the Department of Labor's Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), "Hispanic or Latino workers suffered a disproportionate number of workplace deaths."

Know Your Rights on the Job Q & A emphasizes that employers in the U.S. must provide a work environment that is safe and healthy for their employees. The publication is designed to bolster the efforts of organizations such as OSHA which has reached out to Spanish-speaking Latino workers by translating publications into Spanish, initiating a national clearinghouse for training materials in Spanish, and creating a Spanish-language website for employers and employees.

Among the questions addressed in the fact sheet are:

Hiring Discrimination

Q: I believe I was refused employment simply because I am Latino. What can I do?

Workplace Safety

Q: I did not understand the safety issues and benefits because they were explained to me in English. What can I do?

Health Care

Q: I don't have health insurance. What can I do if I get hurt or sick?

Language Rights

Q: My employer does not allow my coworkers and me to speak Spanish on the job. Is this legal?

Wages and Hours

Q: I may be working too many hours and not receiving pay. What is the minimum wage and how long is a standard workweek? Do I deserve more pay for the work I am doing?

Joining a Labor Union

Q: I want to join a labor union. Does this put my job in jeopardy?

Law Enforcement Actions

Q: I was at work one day when the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS, formerly INS) came and took us all to jail. What are my rights?

NCLR's fact sheet Know Your Rights on the Job Q & A will be disseminated to community-based organizations throughout the country and can also be downloaded free of charge on NCLR's website at For more information, please contact Marcela Salazar at or at (202) 785-1670.


source: NCLR press release

Jardín hacia el Palacio de Santa Catalina