Last week, we kicked off the Leatherby Libraries Staff at Home series with a conversation with our Administrative Coordinator Laurie Gates Cussalli. This week, Head of Serials Andrew Valbuena talks to us about re-learning his native tongue, and his latest fantasy and sci-fi reads.

1. What has been the most challenging aspect for you of working from home so far, and how did you overcome it?
I guess like most people, it’s finding a space to use as a temporary office. Since both my wife and I are working remotely, it became a challenge to find the space since there are not too many extra rooms in our house. We managed to combine our resources and use our dining room table as our combo desks. The room is well lit, plus it has easy access to the kitchen.

Photograph of a laptop on a dining room table, open to a browser window of the Chapman Newsroom. Visible in the background is a kitchen, and the book Children of Vengeance and Virtue sitting on the table

Andrew’s home workspace

2. What is your favorite remote resource for students and/or faculty?
Actually one of my favorite resources is Mango Languages. It is an online language learning system with over 70 languages that you can learn from the comfort of your home. The best part is one of the languages is Filipino (Tagalog). I was born in the Philippines and throughout the years, I have lost my connection to my native tongue and it is great to find a resource that can help me learn the language again. Hopefully when this whole pandemic crisis is behind us, my family is planning a trip back to the Philippines and learning the language would surely come in handy.

Cover of the book Children of Blood and Bone.Cover of the book Children of Virtue and Vengeance3. What book(s) have you been reading recently?
I’ve always been drawn to fantasy and sci-fi books.  I remember reading The Hobbit for the first time in 5th Grade and I’ve been hooked ever since. I am currently reading Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the second book in a series from Tomi Adeyemi. The first book in the series is Children of Blood and Bone. It is a mystical world where magic has been eradicated and it is up to our group of adventurers to restore the balance and what sacrifices must be made in order to do so. Ms. Adeyemi manages to pose thought provoking questions about race, class, and authority while weaving African mythology in her writing. I’ve also been a gamer most of my life and just recently got back into D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), so I’ve decided to delve more into the recent changes to the system. Had to catch up on the Player’s Manual as well as the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This is definitely not your father’s D&D.

4. What is the most interesting change you’ve made to how you do your job in the past few weeks?
I guess it would have to be the video conferencing. I’ve never used it much and there was little bit of a learning curve but now I am getting quite accustomed to it. Not only am I using it for business, but it has been useful in keeping in touch with family and friends.

5. What is your number one piece of advice for students learning remotely and/or faculty teaching remotely right now?
My advice is to stay in touch. In these trying times, there are people out there who feel isolated and frustrated. Reach out to friends and family. A simple text, email, or phone call just to say hi makes a big difference.