A student-centered collaborative initiative at UC San Diego

⋆ ˚。⋆୨୧˚Preuss Reflection˚୨୧⋆。˚ ⋆

Spring Quarter 2023 – Te’Onna Tye, Sophia Cardenas, Catherine Peng, Mekayla Nariño, Daniel Berreondo-Cendejas, & Victoria Siaumau

Collaborating with Preuss was a process of creating trust and bonds with our students. Having freedom with how we led our weekly lessons was a great way for us to adapt to the students and what they expressed to us that they enjoyed engaging with. Our first week at Preuss was dedicated to introductions!

Our first lesson, during week two, was on Intersectionality. Mekayla presented the content to engage in intentional and critical discussions on what intersectionality means, can look like, and how we can apply it to our lives. This presentation included a video with Kimberlé Crenshaw, discussion questions, and a worksheet on different aspects of our intersectional identities (e.g. race, sexuality, gender).  

For our third week Te’Onna and Catherine led a lesson called “Understanding Home: Identity and Oral History.” It centered on the idea of home and an art activity where students were asked to create an art piece that represented “home” to them. Notions of home and identity are some of many key Ethnic Studies concepts and helped students reflect on their identity and home in order to think about their personal oral history. After reflecting on their own identity and home, students can inquire about someone they felt connected to and learn their oral history. This enables oral history to transcend from one person to another and learn the stories that are not in the public’s common knowledge of San Diego history, which is the role of oral history in Ethnic Studies curriculum. It was wonderful to see how creative and out-of-the-box students’ creations were! They made drawings, collages, graffiti art, poems, and more. These art projects ended up becoming a visual part of their final oral history projects at Giesel. 

Following that, Daniel guided a lesson titled, “Borders and the Movement of Culture.” During this discussion, students and tutors thought about ways in which culture can permeate through or pass beyond barriers. These barriers can be physical (where in class, the example of the US-Mexico border was used), or they can be power structures that keep underserved in a state of marginalization. Using a friend’s zine as an example, we also mentioned the importance of art as a tool to deconstruct power structures that can alienate low-income, or students of color.

During our fourth week Victoria focused on what oral histories are and how they have appeared in popular culture. She explained the relationship between rap and oral histories and how they’ve been utilized as a way to tell counternarratives as an example. Students were prompted to think about the music they listen to and how it incorporates storytelling into the lyrics and overall narrative. This built into their larger project of not only the importance of oral histories, but the importance of documenting their own and challenging mainstream historical narratives. 

For our last Wednesday at Preuss Sophia presented with intention to help the students with creating connections between people who they’ve interviewed, themselves, and what they’ve learned since their time with us. Using personal pictures and anecdotes of her mother to relay similarities and differences between the people we are close to; but also emphasized the importance of recognizing those aspects not only to appreciate the good, but also to try and change the negative. 

The combination of all the weeks lessons really showed within the students final projects. We could see their understanding in the empathy and details when they showed their own identities in relation to their interviewees. Our main goal was to be an introduction and a way for students to ask questions about topics that would not normally have space in a classroom. Geisal was a day of celebration and a rewarding way to end our time together. We were all sad to say goodbye, but also incredibly proud of the critical thinking, hard work, and creativity they put into their projects.

The use of alternative ways of teaching and learning was our style of implementing Ethnic Studies into a classroom where they needed encouragement and interaction. We used the opportunity to change what never worked for us as students but also include the feedback from students to make sure they are benefiting from our time together. Though our time at Preuss was short, it opened up a lot of insights and new experiences for both us as UCSD mentors and for the students themselves. A lot of the students had never heard of oral history before their class, and for many of us tutors, it was a new experience to be involved in building ethnic studies curriculum and teaching it to an actual class. We are honored to have been able to contribute to the community at Preuss and had a ton of fun in the process! 

*:..。o○Love, Te’Onna, Sophia, Catherine, Mekayla, Daniel, & Victoria○o。..:*

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