Marcelo Kramer begins each of his capoeira classes with a history lesson. Then comes the music, and he expects everyone to join. Only after that does he begin instruction in the martial art.
Kramer, 33, has taught capoeira at ETSU’s Basler Center for Physical Activity since May 2016. He works hard to incorporate the cultural and historical significance of capoeira into the physical aspects of the class.
Many universities and colleges in the United States accept students from around the globe, and East Tennessee State University is one of them. Students travel for hours to ETSU and for Maria Avila, it was no different.
Avila arrived as a freshman in spring 2013. She traveled from Cuernavaca, Mexico, the capital city in the state of Morelos. When she went home after a semester in the United States, she wasn’t sure she wanted to return. She missed her family and home.
In 2010, Michael Luchtan set out on an adventure to Mexico, hoping to learn Spanish and study Mexican heritage through its music. Along the way, he hoped to find connections to his own culture.
In 2016, Rodrigo Guridi came to East Tennessee State University from Uruguay to continue his music studies. His friend Diego Núñez would later follow.
Through Arrabal, a tango trio born from the three men’s love of music, Luchtan’s goals have been realized.
“Music doesn’t know about borders,” Núñez said. “People used to cross borders and music would just go with the people.”
Martin Ceron has never met his newborn son Enrique. He has not set foot in the United States in two years. His wife, Brenda Bustos, is 2,000 miles away in Erwin, Tennessee, while he is in Mexico City.
The family is being torn apart as a result of U.S. legislation on illegal immigrants.
“My parents are here, but he is my family,” said Bustos. “My family is down there, and I know he needs my support.”
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A mother and her child are waiting for their two-year checkup at East Tennessee State University’s pediatric clinic when José Zepeda and a resident pediatrician enter the room.
“How’s our little girl?” said the doctor.
“¿Cómo está la niña?” said Zepeda.
“Muy bien!” said the mother of the child in question.
“She is very well,” said Zepeda to the doctor, glancing at the little girl with a smile.
The mother does not speak English and the doctor does not speak Spanish, but the seemingly endless questionnaire of things like, “How many servings of fruits and vegetables does she eat per day?” goes over with ease.
“There is an art to interpreting,” said Zepeda, a certified medical interpreter at ETSU Pediatrics. “My job is to help two people who cannot communicate with each other come together and be able to care for this child. That is why I love doing this.”