Last Updated: Mar 28th, 2013 - 15:54:01
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Metro State's success begins with...Ramon Del Castillo

Passion is at the core of everything that defines Ramon Del Castillo.

Chicana and Chicano Studies Department Chair Ramon Del Castillo has published several collections of his poetry. Del Castillo says, "Culture brings me to life."
His 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 already know.

"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 U.S. Army.

"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 doctoral degrees.

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/
publish/cultura_twv50122308.shtml
.)

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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