TAMIU Class Explores Laredo's Historical Roots

LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) - Some say living in a border town is a unique experience. A TAMIU Chicano course is exploring that through Webb County's History. A course designed to partner TAMIU students with local organizations is helping keep track of the county's history.

Dr. John Dean designed his course to explore the legacy of Mexican-Americans in Laredo. "They work with books, Chicano/Chicana literature books starting from 1700 and going all the way to the 1996."

Taking his course to the next level, Dean's Chicano Literature class partnered with the Webb County Heritage Foundation.
"They're really focusing on this area and identity politics of Chicano, Chicana and Mexican-Americans." Using Chicano fictional written pieces as part of their curriculum, students selected historical topics that portray life on the border. To further their research the students used the foundation's archives to support their work. Alondra Garza, a student, says, "Not a lot of people know a lot about either the Chicano movement or Mexicans, and it's sad because we do live in Laredo.

Students' topics ranged from the local indigenous roots to border culture with history. Adriana Aguilar and Alondra Garza say they related to their topic. Another student, Adriana Aguilar, adds, "the violence in the border and the challenges immigrants face and the new challenges they bring with them coming to a new country."

They say they are fascinated by how much history is here locally. "I learned that you don't have to chose between being Mexican or American we are the hyphen in between those two words."

The students presented their research through short-films. Dean says the students work will contribute to preserving the culture of Laredo. "It's not armors; it's not weapons. It's a lot of documents, lots of letters -- things that aren't somewhere else."

TAMIU service-learning classes provide experiences to students by pairing a TAMIU class with a local organization.