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Drake series to present documentary screening, panel discussion

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MEDIA CONTACT: Tory Olson, 515-271-1834, tory.olson@drake.edu

Drake University’s Engaged Citizen Experience series will continue on Thursday, March 5, with a screening of “A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa,” a film by Drake professor Jody Swilky and independent filmmaker Kent Newman. A panel discussion will follow the screening.

The screening will begin at 7 p.m. in Bulldog Theater in Olmsted Center, 2875 University Ave. and the panel, which will follow the screening, will feature local Perry residents who emigrated to the rural community from Mexico, as well as other countries and U.S. states.

The panelists are: 
  • Vivian D. deGonzalez, certified parent educator for Stork’s Nest 

  • Angelica Diaz-Cardenas, home-school coordinator with the Perry School District

  • Viivi Shirley, mayor of Perry

  • Tony Sweet, safety manager at Tyson Foods
The film explores changes in Perry that began in the 1990s when the largely white community experienced an influx of Latino workers and their families. Many of these workers traveled to Perry from Texas, California, Mexico and Central America to work in the local meat packing plant. In 10 years, Perry’s Latino population increased from 47 to 1,873, with Latinos accounting for 24.5 percent of the population by 2000. 

Swilky and Newman, owner of Full Spectrum Productions, present a historical look at Perry through the film with a focus on immigration, ethnicity and industry, specifically the presence of the meat packing plant as the major employer during the 1960s and the rise and fall of the railroad. The film also addresses the impact of Latino immigration on the economy, society and physical environment in Perry. 

To arrange a special screening of the documentary, contact Newman or Swilky at jody.swilky@drake.edu.

Drake’s Engaged Citizen Experience program aims to inform students on global issues and help them understand the ways in which citizens can confront these challenges through democracy. This year’s theme is: “Poverty, Development and Social Responsibility: Whose World is it Anyway?” 

All program events are free and open to the public. The remainder of the spring series is listed below: 
  • March 6 — Humanities Colloquium and Engaged Citizen Experience presentation, “War, Poverty, Democracy or Conspiracy: Interpreting the Origins of Terror in the French Revolution” by John Burney, Drake vice provost for academic affairs, 3:30 p.m., Honors Lounge of Medbury Hall, 2730 Forest Ave.

  • March 11 — CEO Panel: Poverty, Development and Corporate Responsibility. Executive in Residence Spring lecture by Jim Myers of Myers Management and Capital Group in Phoenix, Ariz., and Dan Schweiker of China Mist Brands in Scottsdale, Ariz., 6 p.m., Bulldog Theater.

  • March 24 — “Greening the War on Terrorism: How environmentalists became the government’s top domestic terror threat,” Will Potter, an independent journalist from Washington, D.C. Event sponsored by the Humanities Center, the Engaged Citizen Experience, Environmental Science and Policy and the Drake Law School, 6 p.m., Bulldog Theater.

  • April 9 — “Rwanda’s Giswati Forest: A Forest of Hope or a Conservation Alamo for Chimpanzees?” by Dr. Ben Beck from Great Ape Trust of Iowa, 3:00 p.m., location TBA.

  • April 21 — Second Annual Engaged Citizen Experience Town Hall Meeting, keynote address by Mark Kende, Drake professor of law, followed by student group presentations, 6 p.m., Parents Hall, Olmsted Center.
For more information on the Engaged Citizen Experience program and its events, contact John Burney at 515-271-3804 or john.burney@drake.edu.