‘We are listening!’
Cal State L.A. students heed call of Village Academy high school students,
whose ‘Is Anybody Listening?’ video also gets Obama’s attention
Impressed by the strong but simple YouTube video a friend forwarded to her, CSULA faculty member Rosa M. Zapata decided to show “Is Anybody Listening?” to her Introduction to Higher Education class (HHS 101) last quarter.
Their answer: Yes.
“Is Anybody Listening?” features students of Michael Steinman’s Advanced Placement English class at Village Academy (VA) high school in Pomona, describing candidly and emotionally how the current economic crisis is impacting them. The DVD project became the high school students’ call to President Obama for hope and change.
With the goal of developing the Cal State L.A. students’ critical thinking skills as they attempt to solve a certain social issue, Zapata asked the class to journal their thoughts after watching the video and to brainstorm ideas of what they would do hypothetically for these teenagers.
Many of the CSULA students come from similar backgrounds and relate to the struggles shared by the VA teens. Upon completing the class assignment, they put their thoughts into action. They wanted to communicate to the VA students: “We are listening!”
‘They are not alone’
“One of the things that I learned in Dr. Zapata’s class is that with determination and motivation anyone can accomplish anything that they put their mind to. When our class decided to help the Village Academy school students, we wanted to demonstrate to them that people are willing to listen and to help. They are not alone. Kids all around are faced with the same problems as them. If people don't want to listen to their needs, then they just have to stay motivated and continue forward because life is going to put a lot of walls in front of them. Our class wanted to encourage them that even though the economy is bad, life after high school only gets better, and by attending college they are going to be prepared for a better future.” – Ana Diaz (pre-nursing major)
Working in teams and consulting with the EPIC (Educational Participation in Communities) office at Cal State L.A., the CSULA students organized a campus tour, college orientation and lunch for these VA youths who aspire to further their education despite their personal hardship. The CSULA students also raised $670 to give to Steinman as a scholarship fund for the VA students.
According to biology major Jovanna Borquez, one of the HHS 101 class members, “It was great being able to help those students. Seeing their faces when they saw the check was priceless. It was a great experience!”
Zapata said she was so proud of her students and amazed by their selflessness. Also, she indicated that the support of the Division of Student Affairs and Beatrice Yorker, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, made it possible.
“The class project certainly helped to develop the students’ critical thinking skills, nurture their leadership potential, and inform them about campus services and programs. It also encouraged the students to be more involved and connected with the campus and community,” said Zapata.
Other students in the HHS 101 class included Alba Alarcon, Guadalupe Alvarez, Maria Barrientos, Fabiola Bermudez, Ariana Betancourt, Jose Calvillo, Elisa Cano, Isabel Carrillo, Alejandra De LaCruz, Kaylynne De LaRosa, Ana Diaz, Dinaba M. Dubon, QuoVaughn L. Dukes, Samantha Duron, Yovani Estrada, Robert Fernandez, Cecilia Garcia, Efrain Granados Laguna, Lindsay Gutierrez, Heghine Harutyunyan, Alex Li, Lissa Mancia, Diana Payan, Maria Pina, Monica Quinine, Saira Ramirez, Jessica Rodriguez, Jeanette Romo, Rashawn Ross, Bregan Schultz, Daniela Valles, and Adrian Vasquez.
- DVD footage of “Is Anybody Listening?”:
- YouTube posting of “Is Anybody Listening?”:
- “Pomona’s Village Academy students get aid from Cal State L.A.” (San Gabriel Tribune/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Mar. 20, 2009):
- Los Angeles Times coverage:
- KNBC-4 news coverage:
- Inland Valley Daily Bulletin initial coverage:
- Cal State L.A.’s Educational Participation in Communities (EPIC):
- Cal State L.A.’s College of Health and Human Services (HHS):