Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Brazilian Day in Miami

There was a shifting sea of yellow and blue moving about the borders of Miami’s Bayfront Park on Sunday. These were the shirts and flags of Brazilians contributing their own flavor to the melting pot of America.

For the first time, TV Globo Internacional brought its featured Brazilian Day event to Miami for one of the most anticipated events of the year; all in the face of mid 60 degree weather and soaking rain showers.

The Brazil Information Center estimates that there are over a million people of Brazilian descent who currently live throughout the entire country of the U.S.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life came to partake in the Brazilian food, art, and most prominently, music. This was an open event, completely free to the public; with the exception of food and merchandise.

Miami’s Bayfront Park was flooded with families, friends, and dancers of all ages. As the drum beats built up from a steady rhythm to an almost hypnotic pulse, people began to move their feet: left to right, left to right, to the cadence of sound. And this carried on throughout the almost 12 hour long event.

The blending of fast paced reggae, African drum beats, wind instruments, and what sounded like a Hawaiian ukelele came together to bring the unique theme of the Brasil culture into perspective.

TV Globo partnered with Sunny Fest and the Let’s Speak Portuguese Foundation to bring the experience to Miami. Just last year, TV Globo hosted Brazilian Day in Canada, England, Japan, and Angola.

The center stage was the main attraction. Nestled between a clamshell of glass faced buildings and the Miami oceanside, this is where the major events were held.

English/Portuguese singer, Samantha Bonser, sang the national anthem and guitarist, Luiz “father of AxĂ©” Caldas, performed as well.

Claudia Leitte, who is a very popular singer in Brasil, recently started touring for a solo album and Brazilian Day in Miami was one of her first concerts, flying solo.

It was still raining 9 hours after the gates opened, when crowds began to pool together in front of the main stage. They were all following the bass beats to one of Leitte’s famous songs. She also played her own renditions of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.

Not too far away, a small family entertained themselves by playing their own music. “It’s raining, what are we supposed to do?” said Paula, with a laugh.

Luciano, nicknamed “Cowboy,” usually plays in bars and at family gatherings, he said, but found himself singing songs by Alan Jackson and George and Matheus on that day under cover of an acoutistical parking garage, just down the street from where Leitte rocked the crowd.

So full of energy, people were dancing in the mud with their friends, hands clasped together up in the air, heads swaying down low to the music, oblivious to the fact that it was pouring down rain in otherwise sunny southern Florida. “I love it, it’s like the whole country comes together for one day,” said Charlene Franca, who came to last year’s Brazilian Day.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

"Students Helping Students:" A Graduating Class Gift

"Students Helping Students" is a fresh new way for college students to give a cash gift to other students, as they graduate and start a new life outside of Valencia. The Alumni Association has spearheaded the cause.

"The funds will be available to support Valencia students through scholarships for expenses such as tuition, books, fees, etc. The level of support and number of scholarships will depend on the total amount there will be to award," said Barbara Shell, Assistant Director of Community and Alumni Relations.

Most donations are around $10, but some have been as high as $50 and each donation is matched, dollar for dollar. During the graduation information sessions on the different campuses, new graduates contributed their spare change to growing well.

This year's graduating class is the largest the college has ever had. If every one of the 6,100 students, in this class, donated $5, that comes out to a potential of $30,500 for new students on every campus.

One student donated an entire credit card and others put checks or cash into the glass bowl at Winter Park campus, last Thursday.

Classes are $87.36, per credit hour, for Florida residents; which is about $262.08 for each class. This doesn't include various lab fees, books, or other registration costs.

With the rising costs of tuition and housing, college students need all the money they can get. The Valencia Alumni Association is here to lend a hand, as long as graduating students are willing to give back to the college that has helped them along their way.

"We have collected $510 so far for the Students Helping Students Class Gift. With the dollar-for-dollar match up to $2,000 from the Valencia Alumni Association, that increases the $510 to $1,020," said Shell.

"The grand total of Students Helping Students Class Gift donations we have at the end of April, plus the Alumni match, will be announced by the Distinguished Graduate for this year, Kim Do, at Commencement on May 9th," said Shell.

Students can check back, on Atlas, to see when and where the Alumni Association will be collecting donations at a campus and is available to accept electronic donations.

Logo geek speaks to VCC students

By Collin Dever & Shannon Scheidell

Aaron Draplin is obsessed with logos. It is an obsession, turned passion, turned career, turned life. Right out of high school, he headed straight for the commercial side of art. To Draplin, “there was a beauty in things people overlook.”

Speaking to a pack of font nerds on Valencia’s east campus, Draplin talked about his work, his hobby, and to inspire.

In the middle of his road trips across America, to acquire knicknacks and preserve old packagings pulled from cobweb filled garages and condemned factories, alone, he gets called to design a few unique ones as well.

“Junk has some great shit to be discovered, which you won’t find in a design book,” said Draplin.

For the 2008 campaign for the stimulus package, the Secretary of Transportation picked the logos his company (DDC) made. Sharing pictures of his logos next to Barrack Obama and Joe Biden. Draplin also makes time to create for mom and pop shops, and everything in between.

“Hey, when I made pizzas, there was someone who didn’t like how I made pizza, whatever. So, you make them love you... instead of showing them three things, you show them 30 and make them love it,” Draplin said.

Draplin and his team design graphics for anything from snowboard magazines to logos featuring the head of his friend, Gary, the weiner dog.

“Work hard, make it fun, make up your own projects, invent your stuff, and then do a good job when you get that job. Up until that part, it’s gonna be kinda hard. We’re in a tough time.“

“So screw it, don’t wait for people to bring you gigs, make your own. Make a logo for a band, make a logo for your grandma. Go look at a logo that you hate and redo it.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bake Sale For Haiti Relief

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It has been four months since the 7.0 earthquake wracked the tropical island of Haiti and there is still so much left to fix.

The Campus Crusade for Christ club at Valencia did their part, last Thursday on the East campus. The president and vice president of the club to manned a table selling baked goods and treats in exchange for a donation to the relief fund for Haiti.

The prices ranged from 25 to 50 cents and they were not selling tiny snacks. There were hand made cookies, brownies, rice crispy treats, and different kinds of muffins.

Both students and teachers, alike, contributed to the mass of treats. Alexi Minnick, vice president of Campus Crusade, made the brownies for sale.

"All of the proceeds go straight to the Salvation Army for Haiti," Carolyn Ducker said. She's the president of the club.

The donations totaled more than $20 within the first half hour of the bake sale. A few students would walk passed the table and ultimately find their way back to stop and donate.

One student, Joey Mendez, bought about a handful of cookies and brownies from the girls. He even ate a few before he left the table.

With the prices of the food so small, students were able to go home with an arm full, without spending more than $5.

Different clubs at Valencia are constantly raising money and awareness for the plight of Haiti, Campus Crusade for Christ being one that just won't give up.

"We hope to raise as much as humanly possible," Ducker said.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

New Food Shelf for Students Available

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Denise Elmore has been organizing and pushing for food collection to begin at Valencia and it's finally begun!

The bill was passed last February to set this operation in motion. In order for the school to legitimately collect and dispense free food to the students, Elmore underwent a long drawn out procedural process. Students can now donate food to those who are in need or at a loss for food, any time during school hours.

"Donate anything, then we'll sort it out," Elmore said. "But we request non perishables, cans with pop top lids, microwaveable stuff, anything the average student would eat." On the go meal bars, vegetarian foods, or Cheetos would be good too.

Students can, also, give their feedback to SGA regarding what they'd like to eat and what students should donate.

There are many reasons why a student might not be able to afford their own food. Some people set their education as their top priority, over having a job. They can just take out student loans, instead, and pay the money back after they graduate.

In 2008, more than 30 percent of the nation's population fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The poverty line for a household of 1 person is $10,830 and for 3 people, $18,310.

Elmore said, "The food pantry is for anyone who needs it, students and faculty or any employee of Valencia."

Students should donate as soon as they can, summer is on its way.

Summer is the season with the highest amount of hungry students. They may have to feed children who are on summer vacation and would otherwise receive free food during the school year, in the cafeteria.

There is also the factor of the low amount of money that registered students can receive in grants and loans, over the summer. Many don't know this, but if a student is enrolled in 2 classes, during the summer, they are only eligible for half of the financial aid they would attain if they were enrolled full time. Taking part time classes may feel like a full 4 class schedule, because even the largest term, Summer C, is still about 4 weeks shorter than the Fall and Spring terms. Summer A and B having about 4 to 6 weeks to each term.

The food shelf is run as a sort of a discreet operation. With SGA running it, there are no forms to sign when you either donate food or take food from the room. "You have to trust that only those in need will take advantage of it and
students need to trust SGA to keep it discreet," Elmore said.

"Confidentiality is respected," she said.

Because the pantry is still in the beginning stage, there is still some expanding and allocation of space to take place. Any excess food will be donated to Second Harvest, if students don't need it.

Donations can be dropped off at the SGA office in building 3 at the West campus.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Human Trafficking: The Modern Day Slave Trade

ORLANDO, Fla. -- "Slavery is hiding," is the name of an active campaign that struggles against the abuse and debasement involved in the modern day slavery, otherwise known as human trafficking.

Tomas Lares was the guest speaker of a public information session, held last Wednesday and hosted by Valencia's HERO club. The issues of every day minor sex trafficking and forced labor were among the major issues of the event.

The fact is 2,100 children are reported missing in the U.S. every day and an additional 100,000 to 300,000 are at risk for becoming sexual commodities.

In one case, a 16 year old girl began talking, online, to an average 17 year old boy. They began talking and exchanging pictures and pieces of their lives one another, just beginning to open up. The girl didn't know he worked for human traffickers in Puerto Rico and that she would soon be at their mercy. She was rescued after 3 weeks, but by that time she had already been raped and abused by dozens of men.

Kidnapping isn't exclusive to children, alone. In 2006, 24 year old, Jennifer Kesse, was taken from her home in Orlando. No one has seen or heard from her since. No one knows whether she is involved in the human trafficking ring in Florida.

The main motivation for human traffickers is money. The net profit for trafficking was $36 billion last year. Between $33 and $34 billion was made in drug trafficking.

"Greed doesn't discriminate," said Professor Subhas Rampersaud, adviser to the HERO club. "It doesn't care what age you are or of what descent."

People unknowingly support this inhumane business throughout their day to day lives. Mail order brides and female escorts are usually engaged in forced labor by the hand of traffickers. During the Super Bowl, last year, a recorded 300,000 escorts were paid for in the U.S. over the course of a week.

There is still much to be done to prevent human trafficking from occurring.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and DCF have a task force, which meets every November. The problem resides in the constant battle over jurisdiction between counties and the never ending red tape that must be fought off in order to bring an individual case to court.

One setback includes the fact that the victims of human trafficking are usually minors. The child must have a file in DCF's system in order to be considered for help. Then, after forms have been signed, government officials have been contacted, and questions have been asked of both sides, the child is considered "rescued." When rescued, the victims are put in safe houses, until the police and DCF can decide what to do with them. Most end up in a juvenile detention center for lack of a place to stay.

"The system is broken," said Lares.

HERO stands for the Human Empathy and Rights Organization and it's a student club, based on the West campus. Member Margaret Lavinghousez designed the logo and her mother thought of the name for the club.

Former vice president for SGA and current member of HERO, Edward Uzzle, said when he first heard of this tragedy, it squeezed his heart. He was so affected by the information given to him that he had to join the club, as soon as possible. He wants to make a difference in the lives of these victims and help prevent this from happening in the future.

These victims need the help of others to be free of their bonds.

Various psychological tactics are used to keep trafficking victims attached to their owners. Traffickers use drug dependency, debt bondage, threats against family, mental abuse, physical abuse, and many other ways to beat these people into submission.

"Now that you have the information, if you don't speak up, you're part of the problem," said Rampersaud. "Don't let your reaction to this information make you paralyzed. You are becoming a victim, in doing so."

If you think someone may be either a suspect or a victim of human trafficking, you may contact HERO, or find more information at

Previously published in the Valencia Voice