Passion is at the core of everything that defines Ramon Del Castillo.
affiliations as an educator at Metro State span more than 20 years and
he currently is an associate professor and chair of the Chicana and
Chicano Studies Department. Del Castillo, who also serves on the
College's Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force, says he is genuinely
energized about connecting Metro State with the Latino community
through collaborative partnerships with organizations founded on
advancing educational and cultural opportunities for Latinos.
"We have to deepen our connection to the community and the people that we serve," says Del Castillo.
As to teaching, he says that his philosophy is largely founded on
the notion of embracing the life experiences of his students and
putting those experiences to practical use. Citing a Socratic idea, Del
Castillo says he cannot teach his students something that they do not
"They bring gifts to the classroom that we need to cultivate and
help them understand what they do know inside of them," says Del
Castillo. "We've lived it, but we just haven't related it to a
specific discipline or specific way of looking at things."
A self-described activist -scholar, Del Castillo brings a wealth of
life experience and learning to the collective table of understanding.
He learned about the importance of nonviolence from his conversations
with celebrated union organizer Cesar Chavez, has marched for and spoke
out on social justice for more than 30 years, and is a veteran of the
"The Chicano has opened up many doors for the next generation and
they are now recipients of ˇbenefits that we paved the way for," says
Del Castillo. "I really believe that and I, too, stand on the backs of
others. Others have opened doors for me."
Despite all of those and many other life experiences, Del Castillo
insists that everything he needed to know he learned from his parents
as a young man. Before her death in 1976, his mother instilled the
principles of self-respect and respect of others, paired with the idea
of actions inspired by the voice of his heart instead of the
furtherance of self through material gains. His father, who died last
June, was a disciplinarian who taught Del Castillo and his three
brothers the value of education and finishing that which they
started--each has earned at least a master's degree and two hold
He speaks with a soft directness about the importance of breaking
through to young people to help perpetuate positive change in the
Latino community. To this end, he helped bring Cafe Cultura, a program
that is expected to bring close to 150 youth together in a sharing of
writings, songs and other artistic expressions, to Metro State this
Friday. (To read more go to http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/artman/
Having studied under many noted Latino poets, including Lalo Delgado
and Lorna Dee Cervantes, Del Castillo has published several books of
his poetry and is currently working on his next poetry collection. He
is also a conguero, or conga player, and collaborates with others to combine poetry with music.
"Culture brings me to life," says Del Castillo. "I write. That's my healing. That's my therapy. Writing."
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