[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting.]
MU faculty and students got a sneak-peek Tuesday of what’s in store at the fourth annual Cambio de Colores conference, which begins today and ends Friday.
This year the conference, which focuses on the education, health and legal issues of immigrants, is titled “Latinos in Missouri: Connecting Research to Policy and Practice — Hoy y Mañana.”
Miguel Carranza of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln set the tone in a presentation on the Latino Research Initiative, which developed a mentoring program to reduce the dropout rates of Latino adolescents. The Latino Achievement Mentoring Program, called LAMP, has not only addressed the dropout rate but also substance abuse, aggression, violence and risky sexual behavior among its Latino youth participants since its creation in 2000.
“I’m convinced we’re making a difference,” Carranza said in an interview before the presentation. “Kids who are in the program are graduating — kids who I don’t think would have graduated without this kind of assistance.”
Carranza, associate professor of sociology and ethnic studies and director of the Institute for Ethnic Studies, was invited by the MU Cambio Center and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Division of Applied Sciences.
Corinne Valdivia, research associate professor in the MU Department of Agricultural Economics, said Missouri, like Nebraska, is facing a high degree of change due to immigration. MU faculty researching Latino populations in the Midwest from different disciplinary perspectives can learn from the experiences in collaboration of the Latino Research Initiative, she said.
“They have been looking at how communities accept change, and that is exactly what we are trying to do here at the Cambio Center,” Valdivia said. “This allows us an opportunity to exchange ideas and hopefully work together in the future.”
Carranza will present again today at the Cambio de Colores conference at the MU Reynolds Alumni Center. Registration is open through Friday, with about 200 people currently registered.