June 2, 2014 | Hostos Community College
In March, the College launched the Hostos175 series in memory of the illustrious educator, who was committed to the social, political, and cultural development of society, and to the goal of justice and equality for all.
The Hostos175 events, co-coordinated by Professors Orlando José Hernandez and Ernest Ialongo, began on March 19 with an inaugural lecture delivered by Dr. April Mayes, Associate Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History and Dean of Women at Pomona College, titled: “Hostos (and the Woman Question) in Santo Domingo: A Consideration of Gender and Nation Building in Hostosian Thought and Practice.”
Dr. Mayes outlined Hostosian thought, and how it related to feminism, education, politics, and the economy. Hostos’ influence in South America and the Caribbean, and how teachers should “work in their social context,” similar to how Hostos professors teach their classes, was also emphasized by Dr. Mayes.
“Hostos was a light during the ‘Dark Ages,’ especially for women in education in Latin America,” Dr. Mayes said.
On March 28, a forum called, “Hostos, The Man, The College, The Bronx” was sponsored by the Center for Teaching & Learning and the Library Department. It included Professor Emeritus Gerald Meyer, who discussed the history of Hostos Community College; Archivist William Casari, who examined the College’s connection to the Bronx; and Hostos scholar Professor Orlando J. Hernández, who discussed Hostos’ accomplishments as an activist and author. \
“For Hostos Community College, at this moment, the most important aspect of his intellectual and moral legacy is his conceptualization of education,” Dr. Meyer said. “Hostos implied that, regardless of gender or class, all students needed a liberal education, which would prepare them for a life as a citizen of a republic. We have inherited his legacy and therefore have a responsibility to ensure its implementation.”
On April 3, filmmaker Joelle González-Laguer screened his 2011 feature-length documentary made in co-production with Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies, A Revolt Through Letters: Clemente Soto Vélez. The film focuses on the life and accomplishments of an extraordinary 20th Century Puerto Rican poet, journalist, nationalist, and community activist, both in his native Puerto Rico and in New York City.
Using archival footage of Soto Vélez, and interviews with personal friends, colleagues, Nuyorican poets, and his granddaughter Anita, the filmmaker explores the life of this unique individual. González-Laguer also talked about Soto Vélez’s contributions to literacy, cultural identity, political activism, and his unwavering support for the arts.
The event was also attended by Director Emeritus of the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture Wallace Edgecombe and Hostos Professor Orlando Hernández, both of whom had met the late poet. They each helped to put Soto Velez’s legacy into the context of the work that is done at Hostos Community College. Soto Vélez led workshops at Hostos in the early 1980s.
The annual English Club’s Dramatic Reading Competition that took place on April l0 also appropriately incorporated literary works by Hostos. Coordinated by Hostos professors Maya Sharma and Christine Hutchins, a number of the student presenters read from Hostos’ work in English and Spanish.
Another event for the spring was the Hostos175 Student Essay Contest. Organized by Professor Ernest Ialongo from Hostos’ Behavioral & Social Sciences Department, the essays were read by an interdisciplinary group, including professors Ialongo, Orlando Hernández (Humanities), Ana Ozuna (Humanities), Elyse Zucker (English), Miriam Laskin (Library), Kim Sanabria (Language & Cognition), and Christine Hutchins (English).
The winners were recognized during the Honors Convocation ceremony on May 27, and will be published in the bilingual journal of student art and writing, ¡Escriba! ¡Write!
In the category for students who were enrolled in or had completed ENG 110 the winners were: (First place) Kendra Francilot, “Can Education and Autonomy for all Improve Society?” (Second place) Luis Ojeda, “The Ethical Development of a People: A Review of Eugenio María de Hostos’ Work.” In the category for students who submitted their essay in Spanish the winners were: (First place) Marlon Guzmán for “Hostos, Un Pensador Empírico.” (Second place) Berkis Berroa for “Eugenio María de Hostos y su lucha por la educación de la mujer.”
On April 28, Hostos scholar Professor Roberto Mori, gave a talk on Hostos’ legacy titled, “Hostos: Life and Legacy, or Is Hostos Still Unburied?” Dr. Mori shared some of the biographical highlights of the life of Eugenio María de Hostos, and then moved on to the physical evidence of Hostos’ legacy throughout Puerto Rico, including the numerous streets and squares named after him, the creation of an Hostosian Institute, and the publication of Hostos’ complete works. The primary theme of Dr. Mori’s talk, however, focused on Hostos’ influence today within the Puerto Rican activist movement, most specifically in grass-roots activism for political and social reform.
After Dr. Mori’s talk, participants engaged in a dialogue of their experiences “Teaching Hostos at Hostos.” The professors shared their assignments and their students’ reactions to them. This initial teaching workshop was successful enough that a follow up will be scheduled for the fall.
The semester’s final event took place on May 1, when students and graduates from Hostos Community College presented the play, El juicio a Hostos (Hostos’s Trial), by Maria Butter. The piece was produced and directed by VPA and Education Professor Miguel Juan Concepción. The play depicted a fictional Hostos defending himself against accusations of being a humane, revolutionary, and ethical activist against abuse, inequality, and colonialism. Presented in Spanish, it was a powerful reminder of the travails that Hostos endured for waging his campaigns for human and civil rights, and for Cuba’s and Puerto Rico’s right to independence.
The Piano in the A-Atrium, which was painted by artist and Hostos Professor Ian Scott, is a true Hostos family effort also involving Professor Alberto Bird, Professor Lizette Colón, Professor Rosa Velázquez, Deputy to the President and Assistant Vice President for College Affairs Dolly Martínez, and the Music Club.
Professor Colón explained that after taking a music course taught by Professor Bird and Emmanuel Diaz last semester, she left the class with an uplifted heart. After that, she proposed to VP Martínez to have a piano available to the entire college community to spread the joy of music throughout the campus.
Once the piano was identified by Professor Bird, the funding for the tuning came through Professor Ithier-Sterling and the Music Club. Professor Scott was then asked to paint the piano with a Hostos theme to commemorate Eugenio María de Hostos’ 175th birthday, and the rest is history.
Now the entire college can enjoy the piano whenever an inspired soul passes by and decides to play.
About Eugenio María de Hostos
Born in Puerto Rico, Eugenio María de Hostos (1839-1903) was a 19th-century humanist, revolutionary, and author who traveled extensively and spent most of his life in exile. He made major contributions to education in the Dominican Republic and Chile. He was also an exemplary figure for the New World societies: an activist who fought for human and national rights at a time when these were hardly acknowledged as fundamental values; a committed abolitionist; and a staunch advocate for the recognition and enfranchisement of marginalized groups: women, the Chinese, Native Americans, mestizos, and peoples of African ancestry. All of this made him a champion for inclusiveness and one of the most powerful voices for diversity in the Hispanic world.
Hostos’ views on education are worthy of note for their visionary character. His pedagogy was student-centered and based on scientific and rational methods of teaching that included observation, experiential learning, use of manipulatives, reasoning, and critical thinking. It brought to teaching the motivational theory of learning as well as an awareness of the relevance of context.
Hostos was an early promoter of the scientific education of women in Chile in 1873. While in the Dominican Republic in the 1880s, he founded teacher schools for men, and with Dominican poet Salomé Ureña, he opened a normal school for women. He also supported the establishment of kindergartens and created evening schools for workers in that country. As Dr. Félix Matos Rodríguez, president of the Hostos Community College, points out, “His educational legacy in the Dominican Republic earned him the affection and respect of generations of Dominicans that has endured to this day.”
Hostos also worked tirelessly for the independence of Cuba and his native Puerto Rico. He was in favor of Latin American unity and supported the creation of an Antillean confederation of independent states. For his important contributions to Latin America and Caribbean countries Hostos was conferred the title “Citizen of America” at the 8th Panamerican Conference in Lima, Perú in 1938.
About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique “Student Success Coaching Unit” provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.
Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.