Mujeres Talk: Before You Go: Tips for the MALCS Summer Institute


Dear Graduate and Undergraduate Students of MALCS,

I write one last blog for the 2011-2012 academic year to offer some concrete advice about how to make the most out of the 2012 MALCS Summer Institute at U.C. Santa Barbara. I wish I could attend, but I will be in the midst of a move. I hope to see all of you in the summer of 2013. Here’s my best advice for the conference!

  1. Attend as many of the creative performances as possible.

Why? Every year, conference planners go above and beyond to stage as many contemporary performances in Chicana-Latina arts. The arts are integral to all of our fields in Chicana-Latina Studies. At their core, the arts are pedagogical, cultural, traditional, and expressive of our shared experiences. In addition to the scholarly panels and discussions of best research, teaching, and career practices, attending a performance will affirm your commitment to your studies and energize you throughout the conference.

  1. Be outgoing and make new acquaintances.

How? Introduce yourself to folks after a presentation. Invite someone who is by herself to join you or you and your friends for lunch. The MALCS conference is unlike any other I have been to. Conferences, as many of you know, can be really awkward experiences: you don’t know anyone, it’s professional and thus stressful, and you get lonely. Unlike these usual experiences and feelings, MALCS members are excited and enthusiastic to know you. Operating from a Chicana-Latina feminist praxis of scholarship, MALCSistas celebrate each other and each other’s work during the Institute. So get caught up in the environment, energy, and people.

  1. Have a set of cards made, listing your name, school, field(s) and contact info.

WHY? The conference is a great opportunity to meet new faculty and senior scholars in your fields. After presentations, great conversations take place and you want to follow up with presenters and audience participants who may become supportive mentors and or professional contacts. Take some cards with you; before handing them out, write a quick reminder for the recipient about your interaction.

  1. Plan your schedule.

How? Upon receiving the conference schedule, take an hour and read over every panel, date and time. This is very important because you never know who is presenting. Recently, I missed a colleague from my graduate school days while he was in San Francisco presenting at a recent conference – which I was also presenting at!  Planning your attendance at panels beforehand will also give you a point of view for the conference. By this I mean that you will think more critically about how you plan to use each of the experiences and what part of your professionalization they will benefit.

Ella Diaz is an At Large Representative of MALCS and will be joining the faculty of Cornell University in the fall of 2012 in Latin@ Studies.