Dear future students,
For all those that are not history, ethnic studies, or political science majors, this is for you. I am a second year economics major who grew up in a small low-income community, much like the one I was fortunate enough to work with this quarter. I took this class not because I was looking to fulfill one of my major requirements, but because I was intrigued by the fact that it gave me the opportunity to work first-hand with a community partner. As an economics major, a lot of my work is done in the traditional classroom. In my economics classes, I am often learning about theories like how to maximize utility or analyzing the effects of government subsidies by creating and drawing countless graphs. To me, Race and Oral History in San Diego (HIUS 120d) is a breath of fresh air, allowing me to get out of the classroom and to learn about the communities that surround me by working with them. This quarter I got to work in the Barrio Logan community with the Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI). BLCI works with students and their families to help provide them with the tools necessary for their success. Being apart of a program that strives to help our younger generation succeed was an amazing experience that taught me so much more than I could have ever learned inside a traditional classroom setting or by reading a textbook.
However, as a non-history or ethnic studies major, I had to learn a lot about the importance of oral histories and the study of history as a whole. Although there were times when I felt slightly out of the loop because I did not have as much prior knowledge as some of the other students, the readings that were assigned to us did a great job in providing me with the knowledge that I needed to know. Thus, if you are taking this class as someone who does not have a background in history, I would definitely recommend doing the readings. They can be time consuming, but they provide crucial background information about the history of the places that we are working with which I believe makes the experience of working with those places that much more rewarding. This class also requires various small writing assignments. If you are not one with words, like myself, make sure you give yourself enough time to complete these assignments. I found that starting these writing assignments as soon as possible was the best way to relieve myself of the pressure that comes with having to write. Because this class does not follow a traditional course, it is easy to get off track, therefore, I recommend keeping yourself accountable by using class time wisely and working with your group as closely as you can.
All in all, I had a great experience with this class and as a future economist I would argue that the benefits certainly outweigh the costs. If I could change anything about my experience with this class it would be to take more advantage of my time outside of the university atmosphere by further exploring Barrio Logan and its surrounding communities. Ultimately, I learned so much from this class and from working with BLCI. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I wish you the best in all your endeavours this quarter. May you not only come out of this class with an unforgettable experience, but hopefully also with a list of new hangout and food spots that you now love to go to.