Feb 162005
Authors: Daniel Linn

Every seat was filled Wednesday in the first of an eight-week course entitled "Mano a Mano," a leadership seminar designed to assist Latino students in having a positive experience at CSU.

Mano a Mano seeks to connect students with each other and faculty in the hopes that the added resources might make them more successful.

"Mano a mano means hand in hand and it's really about helping each other out," said Rich Salas, assistant director of El Centro Student Services and instructor of Mano a Mano.

Salas told students one of the course's primary objectives is networking.

"My objective is to try to connect you with the proper resources available ranging from the folks from the Career Center, from academic advancement, from CASA (Center for Advising and Student Achievement) – just different resources on campus including El Centro."

Mano a Mano is a course based off of previous freshman seminars designed to connect students with campus resources.

"About three years ago they decided that because the first-year seminar and some other things that were taking place in the restructuring of the curriculum for first-year students, they would do away with classes like El Centro success seminar," Salas said. "El Centro was not the only class. Black Student Services had a class and I believe A/PASS (Asian/Pacific American Student Services) had a class."

Salas said that previous classes attempted to combine students from different cultures for a similar course but that he wanted one for Latino students.

"I thought it was time reintroduce this class," Salas said. "Although it's noncredit I thought it could be very beneficial."

Apart from the course's intent to network students and faculty, Salas said he hopes to give students a better understanding of their culture. The course will take students to a play, art museum and dinner featuring Latino food.

Students attending the class for the first time placed a high priority on learning more about their culture.

"I'm always able to learn more," said Dominic Olivas, a junior forestry student.

Francisco Guajardo, a sophomore construction management student, said that there are more aspects to college life that can be fulfilled outside the classroom.

"In college there's a lot more than just what goes on inside of a classroom. It's classes like these that can bring a home to a lot of students and open the doors for a lot of students, because it brings that cultural aspect and cultural component to it," Francisco said.

Salas said he expects to learn as much from his students as they might learn from him. He also expects his students to pass on the aspects of Latino culture to future generations.

Salas said that a very limited number of spots were available to students interested in the course. El Centro is located in room 178 in the Lory Student Center.

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