This is the blog of Beta Zeta Nu. We are a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa from CaƱada College, in Redwood City, California. Phi Theta Kappa is the International Honor Society of two year colleges.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Wishing Tree 2009

Last year, one of our members presented our chapter with the opportunity to give bay area foster children a happier Christmas season--through a "Wishing Tree". This toy donation drive works by connecting foster children's holiday wish lists with generous toy donors in the area through a "Wishing Tree" which is decorated with the children's individual Christmas cards, each with a child's name and wanted present. While we were honored to help foster children in need, this toy drive was a challenge as the request to help the drive came only a few weeks before the close of the school year and the Christmas holiday. Despite this challenge, BZN members, Canada students and staff were able to respond to every single card and gift request on the tree, and the presents were delivered in time to the local foster children.
In an effort to make a difference in the lives of young children this holiday season, PTK members again joined forces in order make this toy drive happen. We set up a Christmas tree at the entrance of the campus Learning Center and decorated it with wish-cards from poor children who may not get a gift this holiday season unless someone with a good heart picks one of those wish-cards.We are proud to sponsor this holiday drive and look forward to its success.

City Trees 2009

In 2007 Phi Theta Kappa and CityTrees, an urban forestry group, united in a joint effort with a simple mission: plant as many trees as possible in the Redwood City area. CityTrees has the full support of the Redwood City council and we plant trees on city land wherever there is space, most often in those patches of ground between the street and the sidewalk. We plant, prune, and maintain trees during the spring, summer, and fall. It is a very rewarding experience. There are always at least two of us present, and the plantings and prunings attract other students from Canada as well. Since we have started working with CityTrees, we have helped plant four hundred and twenty trees over the course of these past two years.
Following another planting experience with City Trees, Beta Zeta Nu Fall 2009 President Isaiah Roggow explained "My experience with CityTrees has raised my awareness and created in me a connection to the earth that I never before held. All my life I have heard it said that it is good to go ‘plant a tree,’ but to actually do that is a rewarding experience. Then to watch it grow and return to it a few years later to pull out the support stakes and prune the errant branches is a wonderful event for me. It really helped to raise my awareness of nature and of the verdant power of life. We as species are so destructive and prone to the taking of life. It helps me to know I am helping in a larger effort to give back to nature, to create and give life back and keep America beautiful, one tree at a time."
Here are a few pictures from our recent tree planting and pruning experience with City Trees.

Monday, November 23, 2009

PTK and the Canada College Honors Program - 2009

The Chapter continued their leadership and scholarship role in their contribution to, and expansion of, the educational opportunities for Canada Students. Capitalizing on research that showed an interest in an honors program, several PTK officers and members served the entire year on the honors program steering committee. The students were given the responsibility to help create, implement and review the success of: the mission of the program; criteria for entrance into the program; student learning outcomes for the program; criteria for graduation with honors; a reflection tool upon exit of the class; course offerings. The students also recognized an opportunity to market the new program beyond our college when our sister institution, The College Of San Mateo, due to budget cuts eliminated their honors program.

In addition, the students used the Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Series reader and with their professor constructed a new honors leadership course in Spring of 2010 for all college students. The students, after researching and discussing the many aspects of leadership helped to create syllabus from the interdisciplinary readings in the Phi Theta Kappa reader. Finally, the class will be taught, in part, by campus leaders and is being called: Real Leadership: Real Leaders. The first of its kind ever offered at the college.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rise & Fall of The Maya Lecture

On Wednesday, October 21st, Professor of Race & Ethnicities History, Charles “Chuck” Carlson in collaboration with Yolanda’ Valenzeula’s La Raza class co-sponsored an lecture on the rise and fall of the Mayan Civilization that Beta Zeta Nu chapter produced. Vice President of Fellowship, Ryan Calic brainstormed with Chuck Carlson, who agreed to be the main speaker for the event. Then Chuck Carlson came to one of our chapter meetings with his and Ryan’s proposal, which the chapter enthusiastically endorsed. A lot of leg work went into putting together the event. Ryan took the high demographic of Hispanic students into his considerations for choosing the topic of discussion; 1) Many Latinos have some collective, shared sense of Mayan ancestry and take pride in that aspect of their heritage, 2) Ryan and Professor Carlson wanted to show the rise and fall of a civilization on a trajectory based on the honors topic that would tie in with parallels of why modern nation states rise and fall based in a paradox of affluence and leadership decisions i.e., what worked and didn’t work in terms of leadership in governance of these civilizations ad naseam, 3) The consensus between Ryan, Carlson, and the chapter was that trajectories measuring the rise and fall of European and Asian civilizations had been “discussed to death,” so, in solidarity it was decided that a event should examine the rise and fall of a civilization that hadn’t been lectured on as much at community colleges.

Of course, we couldn’t have pulled it all off without the indispensable contributions of chapter alumni, Carl Noe, who tracked down and purchased containers of authentic Mayan style hot chocolate, produced flyers, which Ryan received stamps of approval for posting by Aja Butler, the Director of Student Activities Office on campus, and Carl also brought in an ethnic Mayan named Gerardo, a Canada alumni, who read a poem he wrote for the event. After a bit of confusion about when and where to pick up the hot chocolate, Ryan and Jonathan were able to secure a coffee vat to brew the cocoa prior to the event. Ryan and Jonathan then prepared the cocoa, stirred and mixed it. There was supposed to be a showing of a film about the Maya, “Popolvu,” between 12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.M., but nobody came to watch it. The presentation began at 1:00 P.M. Ryan, Jonathan, Blanca, Carl, advisors, Lisa Palmer, & Paul Roscelli were in attendance. We had the event in Building 13-210. We had room for about 55 people and nearly every seat was fill by students that had come to see the program out of interest and or extra credit points from their professors. Ryan first introduced Dean of Humanities, Jenny Castillo, who in turn introduced Yolanda Valenzuela, and then introduced Gerardo. Then Ryan presented Chuck Carlson.

Chuck began with a powerpoint presentation. He showed some slides that showed what areas of Mexico and Central America that the Mayans inhabited, their governmental , leadership, and socio-economic infrastructure. He then tried to emphasize that the Mayans hadn’t completely faded away as a civilization and how the C.I.A. and Cold War paranoia had stifled the subsistence and socio-economic growth of the descendants of the Mayan. Some students seemed a little lost when Chuck referenced the C.I.A. and the Cold War, but the lecture went on smoothly. Chuck tied up the powerpoint with a slide giving reasons and questions for why civilizations rise and fall as well as what lessons we could learn from the Maya in terms of not repeating their mistakes in terms of a paradox of affluence and what leadership decisions should and shouldn’t be implemented of theirs. There was supposed to be a Q & A at the end, but it ended up happening within the lecture, which showed there was great enthusiasm and interest on behalf of those in attendance. The event finished on time at 2:00 P.M. Everyone said they enjoyed the presentation and generously helped themselves to the refreshments at the conclusion. Overall this leadership event met all the four hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa, which should give everyone as reason to feel good as gold!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Arts and Olive Fest 2009

Our chapter recently participated in the Arts & Olive Festival by hosting the Phi Theta Kappa booth, which was open at the Arts & Olive Festival on Sunday Oct 4 from 10am-5pm.
Phi Theta Kappa has always been an organization that encourages new members to join. This was the exact goal of the members (Carl Noe, Rene Rivera, and Tristan Sheldon) participating at the Art and Olive Festival. During the festival we: informed people about the different programs that Phi Theta Kappa is participating in such as Project Read, engaged people in conversation about the benefits of joining Phi Theta Kappa and informed them of the orientation times and locations, and increased Phi Theta Kappa’s budget by selling bottles of water.
To organize this event, we gathered the appropriate resources: participants from Phi Theta Kappa, the booth, Phi Theta Kappa materials, bottles of water, and a bag of ice. We promoted this event by advertising via email, fliers, and our website which we updated to show our presence at this event. The booth was acquired from the school which held the event; we were assigned a location on the school grounds and a booth. The Phi Theta Kappa materials such as fliers and the banner were acquired at school as well from storage closet. The bottles of water were a last minute fund raising decision and we got the water from the storage room and Tristan picked up the ice for the water at a local grocery store.

This event was successful because the Phi Theta Kappa members helped promote Phi Theta Kappa to potential new members. We communicated with potential members about our chapter of PTK, talked with community members, students and parents about the role of PTK in the community and on campus.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Be the Change Day

On October 3rd, Beta Zeta Nu joined other volunteer workers for Be The Change Day.
In this project, students from our chapter (Jonathan Werden, Rene Rivera, Jeremy Morales, Estrella Morales , Ryan calic, David Carrillo, Francisco Lopez, and Rachel Rankin) went into a local school (Edison-Brentwood Elementary) to beautify and repair it. After splitting up into different task teams, we began doing various jobs that we were assigned to. These included the following; repairing benches, weeding the school grounds, planting new flowers and trees, and repainting the benches, various murals, playgrounds, and roof support poles.
BZN members participated in a community service project, learned about the material needs of less affluent school children, and beautified a local East Palo Alto school.

Secret Waterfall Beach Clean-up 2009

On October 25th, thirty total students participated in Secret Waterfall Beach Clean-up 2009. Canada College’s local chapter, Beta Zeta Nu, teamed up with three other chapters to lend our full weight to clean up a beach in Pacifica infamous for its pollution by the local populace. We joined forces with The College of San Mateo’s chapter, Beta Xi Eta, and the De Anza chapter, Alpha Sigma Alpha. The location we visited was ‘The Secret Waterfall,’ which has become a trash depository of the suburbia of northern Pacifica.

This entire effort was directed by a non-profit organization called the Pacifica Beach Coalition, lead by their president, Lynn Edwards.

When we arrived, the beach looked horrible. There is a waterfall deep in the cliffs that forms a stream to the beach. Trash was everywhere up and along the stream leading to the ocean, where the waves would then grab the detritus and take it out to sea. The usual suspects were present: bottles, bags, cigarette butts, lighters, and other flotsam. However, by far the most threatening, ubiquitous, and pernicious item was the thousands of pebble-sized pieces of Styrofoam scattered over the one hundred square feet of the environs of the stream. Birds, fish, and other marine life eat these bite-sized pellets ignorant of the death sentence they levy. The consequence is for every piece of styrofoam the size of a head of a pin a fish eats, a fish dies. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands, and it becomes clear why our world is in a fish population crisis.

To find out just how many pellets of styrofoam were strewn about the area, I measured out a 10'x10' square of ground. I had people gather every piece of styrofoam. We then measured the creek area and then extrapolated how many styrofoam bits there were on the entire site. It was calculated that there was approximately 1,500,000 bits of styrofoam in the Secret Waterfall site alone. There are hundreds of these kinds of streams feeding into our oceans and our food supply. That results in millions of pieces of styrofoam going into the sea and killing its equivalent in sea life. It really opened my eyes and significantly raised my awareness on how we are unwittingly killing thousands of members of the food chain that we as a race depend on for survival.

Our group picked up approximately 100 lbs of plastic at the site, which means we saved a lot of birds and sea life from choking and prevented more waste from polluting the environment. The president of the Pacifica beach coalition took the bags to the next city council meeting and presented them to them to give them a stark visual of how new ordinances need to be put in place if we are to have an impact in saving vital members of the food chain upon which we depend.

PTK returns to the Redwood City Symphony

Beta Zeta Nu returned to support the Redwood City Symphony at Canada College this October. Members, including Rachel, Jessica, Gavi, Jhatan, Sarah and Jacqueline, helped set up for the performance, attended to concessions before the concert, during intermission and after the concert and helped with clean up in the facility. We also filled in for absent ushers during the performance.
Here, members gained valuable service experience in volunteer work for a community performance, event organization and planning as well as the cultural experience of live, professional classical music. This performance helps bring prestige and positive exposure to Canada College, and Beta Zeta Nu provides the symphony with an appropriate venue as well as the necessary manpower to allow them to continue their performances in Redwood City.

Kiva updates

This fall we're are continuing our support of entrepreneurs in developing countries with our ongoing participation in the organization Kiva. Kiva is the first of its kind, an international micro-lending organization which connects impoverished nations and their burgeoning small business communities with individuals online who want to help these businesses grow through micro-loans.

Here's a little about the new group of entrepreneurs we're helping in Tanzania:

Garlos Robson is young business owner in Tanzania, who owns a "duka" ("shop" in Kiswahili) where he sells items like oil, sodas, and water and has had this business since 2004. He will use the loan to buy more inventory for his store and recycle his profits into the business to help it grow. Garlos is part of a business group called Kisiwani, which has sixteen members.The sixteen group members run a variety of small businesses, from clothes shops, to vegetable and fruit "table top" stands, to carpentry businesses.

To learn more about Garlos and the Kisiwani group, click below.