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PSS Spring '13

ALL IN A DAY'S WORK

Alejandra Molina

by Jessica Evangelista Balduzzi ’05

The values of equity, cultural acceptance and openness are at the heart of a liberal arts education, and the Office of Intercultural Affairs (ICA) is at the center of Hobart and William Smith. Led by Alejandra Molina, the ICA promotes racial and ethnic pluralism by fostering interaction among people of many cultures and by providing opportunities for all HWS community members to celebrate their cultural heritage. Along with directing Intercultural Affairs, Molina serves on the Colleges’ Commission on Inclusive Excellence, and works daily to bring Latino awareness to campus through connections with Geneva’s Latino population. Her efforts model engaged citizenship for the students she works with every day. Born in Guatemala, Molina joined the HWS faculty in 1995. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Spanish American Colonial Literature at Cornell University.

Here’s a glimpse at one day with Alejandra Molina:

8:30 a.m. “I’ve been collaborating with Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, on this year’s Community Read by serving as faculty adviser to Lauren Foe ’14. This year’s read is the highly- acclaimed Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, by Helen Thorpe, who will be visiting Geneva this spring. Lauren has developed a kit of lessons about immigration that allows students to engage with ideas about citizenship. Geneva City School District teachers will start using the kit this spring. We’re meeting this morning in the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning to finalize details.”

10:00 a.m. “I’m headed to Merritt Hall to meet with Associate Professor of Education Mary Kelly and Congjing “Chong Chong” Zhong ’13. Chong Chong, an environmental studies major, will be working on a visual arts project about Seneca Lake for the Arts Experience Festival, an opportunity for the college community and the general public including people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, to explore various means of expression through the arts.”

12:00 p.m. “As part of the Commission on Inclusive Excellence, we’re hearing from members of the ‘Race and Racism Coalition,’ a group of students, faculty and staff who are working to address issues of race at HWS. The group is organized around three broad topics: campus culture, student life and the curriculum. The Coalition intends to expand and deepen our collective dialogue about race so that we can create an environment that encourages cross-cultural connections and embraces inclusive excellence.”

2:00 p.m. “Back at the Office of Intercultural Affairs, I am supervising the Writing Table, which is an opportunity for students to have their work reviewed by an experienced writer who acts as a sounding board for ideas and helps students to develop their writing and communication skills.”

3:00 p.m. “I’m devoting a couple of hours to focus on the work that lies ahead. My goal is to continue to make the Office of Intercultural Affairs a space for social justice, cultural and global awareness and inclusive excellence. This includes continuing the ongoing conversations we hold at IC with Program Coordinator Darline Polanco ’09, student leaders, interns and others who may happen to stop by to discuss a new program, share his or her day with us or simply chat over a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate.”

7:00 p.m. “David Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College, is speaking on campus tonight. Orr has been instrumental in launching the Oberlin Project, a strategic initiative for bolstering resilience, prosperity and sustainability in the city of Oberlin, Ohio. I hope to learn more about his work and apply it to our community.”