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'Underwater Dreams' screening headlines Hispanic Heritage Month at ASU West

Underwater Dreams poster
August 27, 2014

A free screening of the documentary film “Underwater Dreams” is among the highlights as Arizona State University’s West campus hosts its annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The film, to be screened Sept. 24, is the true story of how an unlikely group of students from Carl Hayden Community High School, located in an underrepresented, economically challenged part of Phoenix, learned to build an underwater robot, and then defeated teams from universities across the country, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a national competition.

"Underwater Dreams," which debuted in July, has been praised by critics and featured on the late-night television show "The Colbert Report."

One member of the robotics team who is featured in the film, Oscar Vazquez, went on to earn a mechanical engineering degree at ASU, and to join the U.S. Army and become a paratrooper. Faridodin "Fredi" Lajvardi and Allan Cameron, both Carl Hayden teachers and mentors to Vazquez’ robotics team, are also graduates of ASU.

All Hispanic Heritage Month events, which will take place on ASU’s West campus at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix, are open to the public. Most have no admission charge. Visitor parking on campus costs $2 per hour.

The schedule of events and activities is:

Opening Reception: Monday, Sept. 15, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Verde Dining Pavilion. This festive event kicking off the month-long celebration will feature music and dessert.

Screening of the film “Underwater Dreams”: Wednesday, Sept. 24, 6-8 p.m., La Sala Ballroom in the University Center Building. The screening of this critically acclaimed documentary will be followed by a discussion with members of the Carl Hayden Community High School robotics team featured in the film. The discussion will be led by Luis F.B. Plascencia, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Light refreshments will be served. The screening is being held in collaboration with Fletcher Library on ASU’s West campus. “Underwater Dreams” is produced by 50 Eggs.

Theatrical production – “La Razón Blindada (or Reason Obscured)”: Sept. 26-27 at 7:30 p.m.; Sept 28 at 3 p.m., Second Stage West in the University Center Building. Tickets are $10 general admission; $7 for seniors; $5 for students, faculty and staff. They are available at This play by Aristides Vargas is based on a mix of “El Quijote,” the classic novel by Cervantes, Kafka’s “The Truth about Sancho Panza” and testimonies by Chicho Vargas and other political prisoners held during Argentina's dictatorship. Oppressed by physical and emotional abuse, two prisoners find solace in meeting every Sunday at dusk to tell the story of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. This production won the 2011 LA Weekly Production of the Year as presented by guest artists 24th Street Theatre, also winners of the 2012 TCG Peter Zeisler Award for Innovation in the American Theatre. The play will be performed in Spanish with supertitle translation.

Calle 16 Mural Project: Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, Sands Classroom Building Courtyard. The Calle 16 Mural Project, led by artist Hugo Medina, returns to create a new mural exclusively for ASU’s West campus and painted with the help of our students. Come pick up a brush during the afternoon and help create this unique work.

Closing Reception – Salsa-Salsa Fiesta: Wednesday, Oct. 15, 5-7 p.m., Sun Devil Fitness Complex. The Fiesta offers the opportunity to make salsa with ingredients that will be provided, learn to salsa dance and see the completed Calle 16 mural.

The slate of activities is presented by the Hispanic Heritage Committee and the Hispanic Honor Society on ASU's West campus. For more information, call (602) 543-5300 or email