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!