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It Takes a Village

“When I first came to America, I cried myself to sleep every night,” says Awad Abdelgadir, the Arabic-language instructor at St. Edward’s University, who arrived in the States in 1984. Life as an English-language learner at the University of Minnesota was such a jarring contrast to life in his native village of Zawrat in Sudan that Abdelgadir felt shell-shocked. In one particularly surreal moment, the skinny, young student came face to face with William “Refrigerator” Perry, the 382-pound Chicago Bears linebacker, at a bar in downtown Minneapolis. “I had never seen anybody so big in my life. I didn’t know it was possible to be that big. It was overwhelming,” Abdelgadir says. “In my village, we had nothing — no electricity, no running water. Here, there is everything.” Bit by bit, however, things are changing in Abdelgadir's native village. Thanks to the efforts of the Mother Maryam Foundation, a nonprofit organization started by Abdelgadir and named in honor of his mother, Zawrat

now enjoys clean and safe drinking water, an elementary school, and access to vegetable seeds for farming and gardens. The foundation’s crowning achievement is a brand new, bright sea-green clinic where once there was only dirt. The clinic brings modern medical services to Zawrat for the first time. Previously, the nearest facility was in the provincial Dongola, more than 25 kilometers away and almost impossible for most villagers to reach by foot. The $143,000 project was financed by a number of local groups, including Sudatel Corp. and the Austin and Westlake Rotary Clubs, as well as profits from Abdelgadir’s business, Nile Valley Herbs. He’s also had a lot of help from the St. Edward’s community — particularly from Associate Professor of Biology Fidelma O’Leary and her students, whose fundraising efforts brought in several thousand dollars to support the clinic. The work didn’t end with the clinic, though. This past December, Abdelgadir traveled back

to Sudan with Kyle Overby ’09. They installed computer labs at schools in three villages, making them the first public schools in the entire country to have computers, according to Overby.

A Three-Minute Love Affair Monica Caivano ’99 took up tango when she was a teenager. Caivano’s family moved to Austin from her native Buenos Aires while she was in high school, just in time for her to choose St. Edward’s for college. After St. Edward’s, she danced with Austin’s Aztlan Dance Company before founding the Latin dance studio Esquina Tango in 2008 with Gustavo Simplis, her partner in tango and in life. Here, she reflects on this most romantic of social dances, just in time for Valentine’s Day. If you can walk, you can dance tango. Of course, to be able to improvise, you’ve got to learn the vocabulary: ochos, the cross, the grapevine. Tango is actually very improvisational, and you don’t have to follow a particular rhythmic pattern. That’s also why it looks very intricate and different from any other dance. The communication that happens between dance partners, even without words, can be very intimate. Most songs are three minutes long, and you usually dance with a partner for a four-song set called a tanda. You have those four songs to go through the whole process of falling in love, and at the end, you say thank you and goodbye. Traditional tango music is from the ’30s and ’40s, and there are only so many orchestras and songs. You could dance to


the same song, but it could be a different experience because of the person you’re dancing with and how you connect. Many times women dance with our eyes closed. You’re not thinking as much, you’re

feeling — which ultimately is what you want. When you open your eyes and you don’t know exactly where you are is kind of nice. You get lost in the dance.

St. Edward’s University Magazine Winter 2012  

In this issue of St. Edward’s University Magazine: Students photograph Texas high-school football for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Mu...

St. Edward’s University Magazine Winter 2012  

In this issue of St. Edward’s University Magazine: Students photograph Texas high-school football for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Mu...