Silvia Àlvarez, a graduate student from Guatemala, is the 2007 recipient of the University of Minnesota Women of Color Tapestry Award. The annual award is granted to individuals who help to create a thriving campus community where diversity is welcomed and supported. Silvia Àlvarez, a graduate student from Guatemala, is the 2007 recipient of the University of Minnesota Women of Color Tapestry Award. The annual award is granted to individuals who help to create a thriving campus community where diversity is welcomed and supported.
Àlvarez, who moved to Minnesota with her husband and three children three years ago to pursue a master's degree in education policy administration at the university, is credited with promoting the Latino culture and Spanish language by creating a bilingual radio show on RadioK, the student-run radio station at the university.
When moving to Minnesota, Àlvarez faced many challenges, not only because of the language barrier but also because the culture and environment were new and different. However, she and her family turned the challenge into what she described as an incredible experience.
While teaching Spanish at the Spanish and Portuguese studies department, Àlvarez started the idea to develop a bilingual radio show. She worked hard to make it a reality.
"I think that there are many stereotypes about the Latino population, and I wanted to eliminate these stereotypes by providing a taste of the Latino culture in a very pleasant way," she said. "It was hard, but now we are able to spread the Latino culture, and there are many sympathizers that look at our show with very good eyes. The next step is to make it available through the Internet and gain more followers."
Àlvarez has an anthropology degree in Guatemala and worked in the field of education in multicultural contexts, particularly in education for the Mayan population and literacy for women and young adults. She is finishing up her doctoral degree in the department of work and human resources education, focusing on community and family education. She is interested in the development of educational opportunities for immigrants, particularly Latinos.
"I am concerned about the inequalities that many Latinos face as the result of the lack of opportunities," she said. "The Latino population, as one of the largest minority populations, is underrepresented in some arenas, for example in higher education. As a graduate student I think I have the opportunity to contribute in to the field of education in a very concrete manner by suggesting inclusive programs and creative ways to provide access to education regardless of ethnicity or social status."