Background on the use of the “@” sign in the organization’s name: Spanish is a gendered language in that the noun “las abejas” is considered feminine. In contrast, “los abejos” is considered a masculine noun. The critical distinction here is the use of the “a” or “o.”
The use of the @ has both the “o” and “a” and thus intentionally blurs the male/female dichotomy present in Spanish. In many contemporary Latin American social movements, attention to gender and sexual oppression has prompted many organizations to use the @ sign in order to avoid assigning their name a gender.]
LOGAN — A new, youth-driven organization, L@s Abej@s, has been established by a group of Utah State University students to partner with Cache Valley youth to plant the seeds of a just and sustainable community. The organization provides a summer internship program for Cache Valley teenagers focusing on the development of green jobs, sustainable communities and social justice.
The use of the “@” symbol in place of an “a” in the organization’s name is to make the name gender neutral.
The name L@s Abej@s — Spanish for “the bees” — invokes Utah’s heritage as well as the organization’s connection to the local Latino and immigrant community, organizers said. The organization is sponsored by the Utah Conservation Corps at USU. The Utah Conservation Corps is an AmeriCorps program.
“Bees are cross-pollinators,” said organizer and USU student Krista Bustamante. “Our efforts are focused on connecting diverse peoples and communities in a way that builds unity and understanding. Real sustainability means working for social justice as well as creating a green economy.”
L@s Abej@s provides full-time paid internships to 14 high-school students from all corners of Cache Valley. Through partnerships with Aggie Blue Bikes and the USU Community Supported Agriculture Farm, interns will receive on-the-job training for the duration of the summer. Additionally, each week the interns will take site tours of Utah businesses and organizations that are on the cutting edge of sustainability.
“In the context of continual economic and environmental challenges, grassroots organizations like L@s Abej@s are catalyzing our transition to a livable world,” said USU student organizer Will Munger. “Building a strong economy doesn’t mean bailouts to GM and AIG, it means training the next generation to do the physical work of the new economy: reducing oil dependency, growing our local organic food, all while building a just, inclusive and participatory community.”
Much of the funding for L@s Abej@s comes from the Multicultural Adventures Outdoor Foundation, which has several years of experience in working with Latino and immigrant youth, providing outdoor environmental education and peer mentoring.
“Our mission is to create intergenerational and intercultural networks of knowledge and support,” said USU student Oscar Marquina. “Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we are crafting a new generation of multicultural leaders who can empower their families and communities.”
Source: L@s Abej@s for USU Public USU/pw 07/07/09
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