WWW: Back in Activism!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday break. Thank you for joining me again. This semester we are kicking off with a focus on activism. You may notice that many of our upcoming posts connect and highlight important activists in Latin America, the organizations they belong to, or the programs they founded. In honor of the focus on activism, I am highlighting some of Ana Teresa Fernández’s recent work on “erasing” the U.S.-Mexico border—using art!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Back in Activism!Ana Teresa Fernández is a Mexican-American artist. She and a group of thirty volunteers teamed up to paint the border fence in Nogales, Sonora a light blue color in order to blend it with the sky. In her video about the project, Fernández talked about the fence as a “symbol of hate and pain.” She thought to change that by making it invisible (at least a piece of it). Her work constitutes activism “because it re-contextualizes a possibility. It makes you not see the border — just for a split second — and [makes you see] how two countries can exist, or coexist, peacefully,” said Fernández in an interview with Raquel Reichard from Latina. To her, the problem of the border fence is that it divides two groups of people who could otherwise live in harmony. The idea, while earning support from many people, sparked hate in some who have taken to writing hate mail and nasty correspondence to the artist. Continue reading

WWW: Rhythms Bring the Holiday to Life!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Here we are, already in December! This semester just flew right by.  Before delving into winter celebrations in Latin America, I just want to quickly extend gratitude to everyone reading, whether you are here for the first time or have been following my posts this entire semester.  Thank you for your readership, especially during the busy holiday season that is now upon us (Ahh!).

In the past, we have focused our December posts mostly on Las Posadas (you can find a number of our past Las Posadas posts here).  This year, I am including a musical playlist to offer both a complement to our presentations of Las Posadas and also a broader view of winter celebrations in Latin America.  I have a couple links to feature here that can be used in the classroom or for your own personal knowledge to aid in creating a culturally informed holiday discussion and celebration in your classroom.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Rhythms Bring the Holiday to Life!The first feature is a very diverse musical playlist, which includes music from Spain, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the United States.  Feliz Navidad from Smithsonian Folkways adds rhythm to the celebration of the holidays throughout the Spanish-speaking countries of the world!  Incorporating villancicos, aguinaldos, bulerias, zambas, and arrullos, this is truly a musical voyage through Christmas celebrations in Latin America.  To take it a step further, I am featuring another link to a musical map, which is a great way to illustrate where each different rhythm originates.  This world map is overlaid with the contents of the music from the first playlist, and in addition, playlists that collect music from holiday celebrations in other parts of the world (mainly, Africa and Eastern Europe, with various other locations, as well).  Continue reading

WWW: Happy Holiday Weekend!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Happy Holiday Weekend

Thanks for reading this week! I’m here just briefly to wish everyone a happy, safe, and fun holiday weekend! Good luck to any of you brave souls venturing out into the sales world!  I’ll be back the Friday after next since our Sobre Diciembre (eek, I know, December is on the horizon!) post will come out next week!

With warmest wishes,

Charla


Image: Photo of Bulldog Waiting for Turkey. Reprinted from Flickr user Jodi under CC ©.

 

WWW: Food, Festivals, and Feelings: Less than a week until Turkey Day!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for joining me again this week! I can almost smell all the delicious foods being prepared at home already! Can’t you? I hope you and your students are getting excited to celebrate the holiday in your own special ways.  This week, I am featuring a few resources that highlight the ways in which Thanksgiving coincides with Harvest Festivals throughout the world.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Food, Festivals, and Feelings: Less than a week until Turkey Day!The first resource is from Eatocracy and it shows some beautiful images of how Thanksgiving foods in different parts of the United States have been adapted to include more Latin American ingredients.  For example, the first picture on the page shows the Castillo-Lavergne Family’s Turkey Pasteles, which are wrapped green banana stuffed pastries.  This is the perfect display of how the traditional turkey platter can be transformed and included in other cultural dishes.  This article, creatively titled, “El Día de Las Gracias—Thanksgiving with a Latin Twist,” celebrates the coming together of flavors, families, and cultures across the United States.  We think this resource could easily be incorporated into class discussions of how students celebrate the holiday, what foods they have every year, and who gets to help with the cooking. Continue reading

WWW: Teaching Thanksgiving with a Grain of Salt (and Some Succotash Seneca)

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thank you again for joining me during the busy weeks! This week, I am featuring a resource that offers a Thanksgiving story that differs a bit from the traditional “Pilgrims and Indians” story we are accustomed to hearing.  There are many discrepancies with the “First Feast” idea that accompanies most Thanksgiving stories, including some that highlight the Spaniards’ presence in North America prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival and others that were highlighted in last week’s post (link to rethinking schools resource).  However, this resource offers yet another perspective on Thanksgiving.  This author happens to be a historian who teaches in high schools and also identifies as Native American. Continue reading

WWW: The Meaning behind Día de los Muertos

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Thanks for stopping by the blog this week!  In light of the upcoming celebrations for Día de los Muertos, I am featuring a great short film (about three minutes in length) that really moves the viewer to understand the meaning and importance behind Día de los Muertos.

Vamos a Leer | WWW: The Meaning behind Día de los MuertosFrom the description of the publishers, “[In] this beautifully animated, and heart felt, short film about a little girl who visits the land of the dead, […] she learns the true meaning of the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos.”  The main character is first seen at the cemetery, visiting the gravesite of a loved one, when she finds a flower that pulls her into the party of afterlife.  She is given guidance by a friendly skeleton, who feeds her fruits and bread, and turns out to be the very loved one who’s gravesite the little girl was visiting.  It’s a brief, three-minute-long film that can explain Día de los Muertos in a much easier, more emotional relatable way than just reading a description of the holiday online or out of a book.  We think this short could be easily incorporated into a class discussion about Día de los Muertos, and could be used as a base for discussing traditions, afterlife, honoring the dead, and multicultural holidays. Continue reading

WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the Monarch

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Whether you’re joining for the first time or you stop by frequently, thanks for checking out my post this week!  In light of the upcoming celebrations of Día de los Muertos, I wanted to highlight one small detail involved in the holiday that sometimes gets overlooked: the Monarch migration!  Vamos a Leer | WWW: Migrating Ancestors and the Flight of the MonarchThese butterflies fly south for the winter, sometimes over 100 miles per day as they migrate from the United States to southern Mexico.  The Monarch Butterflies are a small detail among many in the celebration of Día de los Muertos; however, this detail is of particular importance because many people believe the butterflies migrating are the souls of their ancestors returning to celebrate the holiday with them.

In recognition of this belief, this week’s World Wide Web post brings you a few different resources – all of which are available on the same website!  The first resource is a Teacher’s Guide to teaching about the Monarch Butterfly.  The guide explains the background of the Monarch migration and the cultural importance of the migration.  It includes many activities for the classroom, such as a slideshow (available in English and Spanish) that explains many aspects of the traditional celebration of Día de los Muertos, topics for discussion in the classroom, and research ideas for students.  There is also a Resource list with links to more information on how the celebrations of Día de los Muertos take place and some of the foods that are made in preparation.  It would be great to make Pan de los Muertos for a classroom cultural celebration!  Aside from the Teacher’s Guide emphasized here, the website includes a great deal of information about Monarch Butterflies in general, including updated maps on the butterflies’ travels and news of their progress.  The section titled Kids includes many resources for students to interact with, such as charts about the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly and the importance of its migration.  It would be a great resource to work with in the classroom to highlight themes of tradition, migration, and the benefits of cross-country movement. Continue reading

WWW: La Llorona and Learning Through the Wails

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

To all who are joining for the first time or who are following the posts each week, thank you for stopping by the blog!  We are kicking off the new month by celebrating and acknowledging the personal histories of our families and communities.  In light of this focus, I thought I’d emphasize the importance of oral histories, traditions, and story-telling by highlighting a few interconnected resources, with a focus on La Llorona!  Vamos a Leer | WWW: La Llorona and Learning Through the Wails As Keira mentioned in her “Sobre Octubre” post, the myth of La Llorona can serve as a means of understanding story, history, and memory. Her’s is a story that has been passed down as a myth among generations.  By looking at how her story has endured and evolved, we can open up conversations about storytelling and oral histories within our own families and communities.

So, the first resource I highlight here details how the Latin American legend of La Llorona (the wailing woman, the weeping woman, the crying woman) has developed and changed throughout the years, both in Latin America and in the United States.  The website also has a number of interviews from community members, each of whom give a different account of La Llorona’s history, as they have been taught by their families.  I particularly enjoyed the clips that described who La Llorona is, what she looks like, and what traditions have come about in her honor/memory.  These interviews, along with the timeline, can be a great way to start conversations not only about La Llorona, but about storytelling and oral histories as a means to transfer traditions from one generation to the next.

The second resource is a lesson plan created to help teach students how to be storytellers with their own traditions and histories.  The teacher starts by giving an example of an oral history, like La Llorona, and then proceeds to work with students to create their own stories.  This lesson plan is particularly interesting because it allows the teacher to connect the process of storytelling to the genre of ancient epics and serves as a bridge from the students’ own personal experiences to literature written many generations ago.  The lesson plan has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards in New Mexico for grades nine through twelve, which are detailed under the standards tab for each grade individually.  This plan also links to other related resources that can be used in conjunction with the one I have included above.

Using La Llorona as a starting point, the students can interactively create their own oral histories with the help of the lesson plan provided above.  Even further, teachers can use commonly talked about oral traditions to connect what the students already know to what they need to learn!  These resources can help incorporate Hispanic Heritage into common curriculum requirements, reviving the standard curriculum and making it more relatable.  I hope these resources can bring to you and your students a new perspective on reading and relating to older materials, all in time for Día de los Muertos!

With warmest wishes,

Charla


Image: Photo of “La Llorona” Signs. Reprinted from Flickr user baldiri under CC ©.

WWW: Lost in Immigrationlandia

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

I hope you all enjoyed the documentary I featured on WWW last week!  This week, in keeping with the themes of immigration and resources to honor and understand Latin American cultural influences and experiencesVamos a Leer | WWW: Lost in Immigrationlandia, I am featuring an online source that will serve as a good supplement to the documentary, The Dream is Now.  The website is called Lost in Immigrationlandia and it highlights the stories of two young men, Alex and Cristhian, who migrated to the United States from Guatemala and Honduras, respectively.  Their stories illustrate the many reasons they left their countries in the first place and tell of the obstacles they faced in getting to the United States.  Once they arrived, the stories illustrate how the boys were received in the States and taken to holding cells or detention centers nicknamed “The Freezers.” Continue reading

WWW: The Dream is Now

Vamos a Leer | WWW: The Dream is Now ¡Feliz viernes a todos!

I hope everyone has enjoyed their first few weeks of classes!  If your weeks were anything like the normal first few weeks of the school year, it’s probably safe to say they have been busy as ever.  Is anyone ready for a movie break?  I know I am.  This week, I introduce a short documentary that is available as an online resource.  It’s just thirty minutes long, but it packs a powerful message.  The film is called The Dream is Now and it is about how the broken immigration system in the United States affects the lives of those with the “undocumented” status living in this country.  With this resource, I’m building on the themes that Keira elaborated on earlier this week: resources to honor and understand Latin American cultural influences and experiencesContinue reading