The UCSD Latin American Studies program opened a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) course during the Winter Quarter of 2019. Titled LATI 10: Latin American Studies and U.S. Liberation Movements, “the purpose of this class is to study the multilayered relations between Latin America and U.S. Liberation movements, particularly Third World movements, the Chicano Movement, the Black Liberation Movement, the Indigenous Movement, Human Rights activism, and trans-border activism.”
For the 2019-2020 academic year I was hired to co-design and teach this new DEI course not only because of the links to my research and teaching but also because of my extensive experience in building and maintaining successful university-community partnerships. On October 24, 2019, I took my UCSD Latin American Studies students on a trip to visit Chicano Park. After a brief historical summary and mural tour, we took a walk down Logan Avenue for some limonada and a few tacos al pastor. There was a consensus among my students that they had a great time while learning about the history of barrio-based activism and mural art. For most of them, it was the first time they had visited the Parque, and for some, it was the first time they had ventured away from the UCSD La Jolla campus, 15 miles to the north.
On November 19, 2019, I took my LATI 10 students on a trip to visit Border Field State Park, also known as “Friendship Park.” Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), provided our group a historical overview of the park and the transformation of this section of the U.S./Mexico border wall. Pedro shared with us an assessment of the ongoing changes and consequences of intensified anti-immigration rhetoric and enforcement policies. LATI 10 students unanimously agreed that the Friendship Park trip was a great experience. They felt that the sharp contrast between our visit to Friendship Park from our earlier visit to Chicano Park was especially informative, considering how they understood that both of these parks are closely linked to the same historical legacy of state repression, political control, and community resistance.
It is easy for undergrads who attend classes in La Jolla to overlook the fact that San Diego is very much “una comunidad trans-fronteriza.” LATI 10 off-campus trips like our visits to Chicano Park and Border Field State Park help connect UCSD students with diverse San Diego communities that are not commonly engaged with by more traditional 10-week courses. I am set to teach LATI 10 for the Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters of the 2019-2020 school year.