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Welcome to All Eyes on AES

Submitted by Olivia J Hernandez on May 24, 2016 - 4:50pm
AES Chair Juan Guerra
AES Chair Juan Guerra

As I approach the end of my first year as AES Chair, there is much to look back on that reminds us all just how important the work we do is in supporting the well-being of the department. While we have faced our share of challenges, it is in the celebratory moments we showcase in this issue of All Eyes on AES that we find the most authentic manifestation of our commitment to a future that beckons and asks us to remember who we are and where we’re going. Once again, the diverse activities and multiple accomplishments of AES faculty, staff and students that we are proud to share with you in this issue vividly highlight our very best qualities. So, please, join us in reading an array of stories that welcome two “new” colleagues to the department, acknowledge the accomplishments of three distinguished faculty who will be retiring this year, highlight the significant contributions of faculty to mentoring, research and scholarship, and honor the important work AES majors are doing as they work hand in hand with faculty to change the world in positive ways.

As this issue demonstrates, we have a lot to look back on as the current 2015-2016 academic year comes to a close. As we did in the fall, we have continued our year-long celebration of both the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of American Ethnic Studies in 1985, as well as the 45th anniversary of the founding of the various programs—the African American Studies Program, Asian American Studies Program, and Center for Chicano Studies—that eventually morphed into and became AES. During winter quarter, for example, AES joined the Departments of American Indian Studies and Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies in co-sponsoring a Forum on Race & Equity that gave us all an opportunity to insert our voices in current efforts on campus to recognize the unique and significant contributions our three departments have made on this front. This event was followed in the spring quarter by a symposium that brought together faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and community members from across the Puget Sound area and beyond to talk about the future of ethnic studies as a field of study and our department’s role in shaping that future. Together these two events reflect a key cornerstone that informs our vision: AES’s continuing commitment to social justice.

In addition to stories about these two unprecedented events in the department’s history, you will find an engaging story about a mentoring program developed by an AES faculty member that provides UW student athletes with an opportunity to work with middle and high school students in the community who are eager to learn how they can best prepare themselves to be successful in college. We also showcase the critical role that members of our faculty play in producing new scholarship on the “deep seeds” and “first foods” of Mexican-origin peoples, in curating a Chicano/a exhibit at the Museum of Northwest Art, and in helping AES majors recover critical aspects of Latino/a history in the Yakima Valley. Finally, we have also included special stories that introduce you to two “new” lecturers in AES who will continue to teach Swahili and Tagalog at the UW and celebrate the significant contributions of three highly esteemed colleagues in Asian American studies who will be retiring this year. Because the AES Graduation Ceremony is scheduled to take place after this issue goes to press, we look forward to sharing a story about that event in the fall quarter issue.

These are of course only a few examples of the meaningful contributions that our faculty, staff, students have made this year. Together, these stories will provide you with a glimpse into the rich possibilities that play themselves out in AES every single day. Keep in mind that we also want to hear your stories—whether you’re AES alumni, friends, current students or community partners—so that we can join you in celebrating and sharing your accomplishments in a future installment of All Eyes on AES. So, please, stay in touch and let us know what you’re up to. In the meantime, enjoy reading the stories in this issue and join us in working to forge new connections as we continue to strengthen the many bonds we already share.

Juan Guerra

Professor & Chair

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