Richard Rios, Author, In Person at Napa Valley College
A Public Reading of Songs from the Barrio: A Coming of Age in Modesto, California
November 12, 2013, 5:00 p.m., NVC Little Theater (1200 Building), Free
Noted author Richard Rios will be reading from his book Songs from the Barrio: A Coming of Age in Modesto, California in the NVC Little Theater (Napa Valley College 1200 building) on Tuesday, November 12 at 5pm. This free reading will be followed by a reception hosted by NVC President Dr. Ron Kraft in Rios’ honor and in recognition of the Puente program at NVC.
Written as a series of vignettes and poems, Songs from the Barrio paints an intimate portrait of economically poor but culturally rich Mexican-American neighborhood in post-WWII Modesto, California. Mr. Ríos’ poignant life story takes us back to a time that will never exist again, a time before a modern, homogenized society. The memoir documents the journey of first generation Americans of Mexican descent like Rios as they join the military, attend college and progress toward socio-economic stability, only to find that among many Americans, they are still considered foreigners.
Puente is a state-wide academic preparation program that was founded to increase the number of educationally under-represented students who enroll in four-year colleges, earn college degrees, and return to the community as mentors for future generations. The program organizes campus visits and cultural events to not only enhance exposure to educational opportunities, but also enable under-represented students to see themselves as college-worthy.
This is why the public reading of Songs from the Barrio honors the NVC Puente Program. Since its inception at Napa Valley College in 2004, the program has served more than 300 students with a proven track-record of success: over 90% of Puente students have reached their educational goals with Napa Valley College, and over 43% have transferred to four-year institutions (a 12% increase over under-represented students who are not in the program). Puente alumni are now returning as mentors to the program. More than 56% of all NVC students come from under-represented communities within Napa County (Hispanic, African-American, Native American, and Asian American), with more than 35% self-identifying as Hispanic. The NVC Puente Program is in high demand by students, but participation is currently limited to 30 students a year due to budget constraints. The ability to expand the program at Napa Valley College relies on community investment.