Teaching and Service Learning
As an instructor of interdisciplinary courses, I approach teaching by pushing students to challenge their preconceived assumptions, drawing from and sifting through multiple knowledge sources and theoretical lenses as they progress through their careers. Focusing on methodology—working with archives and conducting ethnographic fieldwork—allows students to develop a firsthand understanding of issues along with problem solving tools. Implementing these approaches cultivates critical thinking skills and helps students to analyze historical and contemporary applications of concepts.
FOOD, MIGRATION, AND CULTURE
I like to use food as an entry point to issues like labor and migration and to connect students with their off-campus community. I have found that students are more willing to discuss food and therefore are more easily able to grasp complicated theories by using their own experiences with food. This course has also been useful to introduce fieldwork methodology: I have each student conduct oral histories and take photographs from immigrant-owned food establishments. The students learn skills like how to approach people for an interview, transcribing, and how to use software to produce their interviews into digital media clips. This course allows students to be both consumers and producers of knowledge.
INTRODUCTION TO LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES
In my intro courses, we not only cover the culture, history, and different trends in scholarship in the Americas, but I also encourage students to question the dominant narrative and focus on the voices of underrepresented groups, interrogating why and how they have been left out of mainstream media. I like to engage students in scholarship and discussion on salient issues like undocumented immigration and free-trade policies like NAFTA, so that students may take on a more holistic perspective of the issues, challenging their preconceived notions. The course builds on key concepts like colonization, power, U.S. intervention, race, intersectionality, migration, nation-building, and globalization through four units: Encounter, Identity, Exchange, and Creativity.
Each of the ten courses I have taught at Tulane University have been either mandatory or optional service learning. I encourage students to put knowledge from course materials into practice by integrating community-based projects, ranging from work with a Latinx youth tutoring program to creating digital humanities projects with community organizations. This applied learning undergirds both the students’ and my own experiences by engendering cross-cultural understandings and engaging in learning beyond the campus. Introducing concepts like privilege and positionality in the first weeks of class provides students the opportunity to examine our own biases and perspectives as well as locate those of the scholars we study.