The Big Dig tackles important topics while highlighting students’ accomplishments

The Big Dig VI was the first in-person event for the Humanities Center since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was hosted by the Humanities Center as a way to allow students to present their summer research and internships. The presentations brought up important topics such as ethnicity, cartography, and the realities of life in a war-stricken country.

It was also Dr. Martin Camper’s first event as director of the center. The presentations were hosted in the DeChiaro College Center on Friday, October 1, and were well attended, with almost every seat filled by both faculty and students.

Dulce Maria Alvarenga ‘23 shared what it was like to live in El Salvador during its civil war, which killed 75,000 people. She has a personal connection to the research she discussed at the Big Dig because both of her parents immigrated from El Salvador. The war was between the El Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí Front, which was a left-wing group in the country. She interviewed several people and got “personal and detailed accounts of how they experienced the war.” As part of her project, Alvarenga had the opportunity to interview a 5-year-old girl, who told her she had seen a Coca-Cola truck bombed right in front of her house. Many of the people she talked to described the war as “dirty,” and said they “forgot who they were even fighting against.”

The El Salvadoran Civil War is a part of history that is often not discussed. 

“There are so many Salvadorans in the United States and they have all experienced this really horrible thing. They all have memories of it that the least you could do is to hear them out and honor those memories,” Alvarenga said.

Alvarenga spoke on the main goal of her research involving the Salvadoran immigrants during the period of the Civil War. 

“The story of the 2.3 million El Salvadoran immigrants in the US deserves to be told,” Alvarenga said. She hopes to bring more awareness to the devastating events of the Salvadoran Civil War and highlight the importance of having the ability to research at Loyola. 

Another key part of the presentations at the Big Dig was the highlight of students’ summer internships. Claire Svoboda ‘22 created a virtual reality program that allows people to learn about all the resources offered. Svoboda‘s research was focused on using virtual reality and augmented reality, which was a challenge for her. 

“My internship was through our library, and I worked with the technology department even though I’m an English major. It was a lot of research and then I designed a scavenger hunt,” Svoboda said. 

Internships like Svoboda’s, highlighted at the Big Dig, were possible because of the Humanities Center’s resources.

The Big Dig also featured two Affiliate Teaching Awards. These awards go to affiliates of Loyola who have shown outstanding achievement in teaching. This year, the award was given to Professor Gerard Blair and Professor Brandon Parlopiano.

Professor Blair, a communications lecturer, was praised for use of creative assignments. Many of his students have described him as a teacher who knows how to make class fun while still learning at the same time. Unfortunately, Blair was not in attendance to receive his award. 

Professor Parlopiano, a history lecturer, received this award for his kind and compassionate attitude in the classroom. Dr. Camper called him “one of the best history professors at the school.” 

The Big Dig Presentations highlighted the importance of sharing students’ research, which is critical to academia at Loyola as it allows new perspectives and learning about untold stories.

Featured Image courtesy of AbsolutVision via Unplash