Committee continues to prepare fall 2005

Committee continues to prepare fall 2005

Committee continues to prepare fall 2005

Jessica MacIntosh

Still in its preparation stages, the Mexico Semester planning committee is working on the events and activities for the fall.

The committee has been meeting about every two weeks since the start of the spring semester, said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of Institute of International Studies and chair of the Mexico Semester planning committee.

“We’ve been brainstorming,” Stebbins said.

“Our goal is to bring as much of Mexican culture, history, art [and] literature [to Southern],” said Cliff Toliver, assistant professor of English and member of the planning committee.

Stebbins said at the beginning of the spring semester, the committee had a review of the Russia Semester held in the fall 2004.

Around 15 faculty members are working together alongside several students to plan the semester events.

Stebbins said they are trying to receive more input from students by looking at surveys that had been given out.

“The students have told us they want more cultural activities and fewer lectures,” he said.

During the Russia Semester, there were many lectures.

“It was more difficult to bring in cultural activities from Russia,” Stebbins said. “But, we are not going to have that problem with Mexico.”

The committee came up with many ideas for the semester like bringing in speakers and musical groups from Mexico. Stebbins said they are relying more on regional speakers and performing groups for the events at Southern because of airfare costs.

“There are a number of groups in the Tulsa and Kansas City areas,” he said.

Stebbins said the committee is looking to bring in a Mexican Film Festival and having some of the local Mexican restaurants provide samples of food. Another event that is scheduled will be during Homecoming week. During the Homecoming picnic, a Mariachi band will perform. One aspect stands out.

“I think one of the things I am particularly pleased with is that the Homecoming committee has chosen Mexico as its theme,” Stebbins said.

Julie Blackford, director of student activities, said the theme is going to be “Too Hot To Handle,” which will be integrated in with the Mexico Semester.

“We are really excited,” she said. “I think it’s going to work out really well.”

Another idea in discussion is bringing in Dr. Kim Goldsmith, an archeologist. Stebbins said she has agreed to come for a short residency. He said the dates she will be here are still being negotiated.

Toliver said the committee hopes to have more performances.

“I am sure there will be some lectures,” he said.

The Gockel Symposium theme has yet to be chosen.

“We are working with a couple of speakers on that,” Stebbins said.

“We are unsure what Gockel will be,” Toliver said.

An allocation is given from the University to pay for the events and activities during the semester. The budget will be decided in July.

“It’s usually around $35,000,” Stebbins said. “We are assuming that we will have the same budget as we did for the Russia Semester.”

Stebbins said Mexico is a good selection.

“Mexico is so close yet so far at the same time,” he said.

He said we take our neighboring countries, Mexico and Canada, for granted.

“They are our closest neighbors, our closest trading partners, but sometimes we tend to lose focus on what those countries are all about,” Stebbins said.

He thinks more study abroad groups should “consider choosing Mexico.”

“It is definitely an international experience, but it’s very affordable,” he said. “Airfare doesn’t cost a whole lot. We should look more closely at Mexico can offer in terms of the international experience.”

Toliver said he is excited about the semester.

“It is difficult to have an authentic exposure to the ideas that other cultures have established,” he said.

Stebbins said they hope to have some events scheduled for the first week of classes.