Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Villasenor invites Cerritos’ students to his ranch

Villasenor discusses the bond between humans and nature as he introduces students to his goats.
Rebeca Vega/TM

Are you a burro genius?  Students in Dr. Frank Gaik’s Chicano Literature class had the opportunity to find out if they fit the description of the book’s title when they visited author Victor Villaseñor’s home in Oceanside, California.

“I was very nervous because it was my first time meeting a great author who I admire a lot,” Architecture major Melissa Hidalgo said.  “I did not know what to expect,” she added.

Hidalgo and her classmates made the two-hour trip to the author’s home last Tuesday as part of the curriculum for this semester’s English 223 course.

Upon arrival, students were greeted by a handshake from the author and given a tour of his home as he shared his personal story and advice. 

Highlights of the tour included the Villaseñor’s childhood bedroom, his writing room, and the field where he keeps a family of goats.

Nursing major Isabel Gomez was most impressed by Villaseñor’s “journey as a rewriter.”  “He never gave up on writing Burro Genius and used all the rejections he got to improve the book until it was finally published,” she said.  “Now I know that when I begin something, I must finish it to be successful.”

Originally, Gaik planned to have Villaseñor visit the campus, but due to a lack of funds the campus visit was cancelled and the author invited the class to visit his home in exchange for restoration and preservation work on his ranch.

After beating dead pine needles off trees to let in sunlight, students found they had been enlightened.

“Today, most of us work inside of buildings. We barely have an opportunity to work outside beneath the sky, surrounded by nature,” said Hidalgo.  “I think everyone who went to this trip realized how beautiful our earth is,” she added.

During his lecture, Villaseñor asked students to repeat a motivational message to themselves every day.  “I am a genius.  I am wonderful.  I can make a difference.  I can kick ass,” he said.

Villaseñor revealed that he is finishing his latest book Rain of Gold 2013: Indigenous Wisdom due out next February.

Gaik was honored to receive a copy of the first four chapters to read and aid in the editing process. 

“In the early drafts, Victor wrote about his own experiences.  I told him I was most impressed with the connections to his grandmother’s wisdom,” said Gaik.  “In the new draft, he really focuses on her prophetic ability.  The earth’s population is becoming more conscious of our shared responsibility for the planet.”

The trip ended with a question from Villaseñor to the students.  “Can you conceive a world harmony and peace?”  The author paused before answering, “yes, because we’ve always had it.”

After reviewing feedback from students who attended the excursion, Gaik has different plans for next Spring’s Chicano Literature class. 

“I’m hoping for another visit to the ranch, but I want to apply for a grant or fund-raise to cover the costs.  Feeding goats is fun, but I don’t want students to work again,” he said.

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Rebeca Vega, Staff Writer
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Villasenor invites Cerritos’ students to his ranch