SAN ANTONIO – A new course at the University of Texas at San Antonio will educate high schoolers about Latin Americans' historical and cultural contributions.
Liliana Saldana, a Mexican American studies professor at UTSA, said this course is a first-of-its-kind and offers a unique opportunity for high school students.
“This the first time that UTSA offers dual-credit, Mexican-American studies and dual-language course,” Saldana said. “We focus on the Mexican American experience, Puerto Rican experience and also the Central American experience. How the cultural expressions -- whether it’s in visual art, performance, food or literary works -- give meaning to their sociocultural and sociopolitical experience in the United States.”
Currently, 15 students from Brackenridge High School are taking the course called “Latino Cultural Expressions.” Saldana said the class allows students to understand their own experiences.
“It’s asking questions about racial justice. It’s asking questions about immigration. It’s asking questions about, you know, economic justice in our communities, especially with the pandemic going on,” Saldana said. “And so many people are suffering economically. So it’s making those connections and having students ask questions so that they can imagine the world that they want to live in.”
A majority of the course is taught in Spanish. Students who complete the course will earn three credit hours.
Saldana said learning this helps impact students who have been historically excluded from higher education.
“This is a way in which we can create a direct pathway for students in our communities who have been historically excluded from institutions of higher education,” Saldana said.
The class is helping students like Mariah Castillo understand and better connect to her ancestors.
“I learned a lot about my ancestors that I really didn’t know,” Castillo said.