Chandler-Gilbert Community College: CGCC Awarded National Latino Grant
Last September, Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC) was awarded a Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). As one of 203 grant recipients selected from across the country, CGCC received an award of $10,000 to produce public programming about Latino history and culture.
Beginning last fall, CGCC began hosting a variety of program activities to engage students and the community about the history and cultural impact of Latinos in the United States. Activities featured a Latino American art exhibit; poetry writings; a live performance by award winning author Sandra Cisneros; engaging with local playwrights, actors, and artists; and producing dramatic scenes in response to the migrant experience.
Donna Thompson, Humanities and Woman Studies faculty and grant co-director, emphasizes the importance of “using the arts and humanities to explore the challenges and opportunities present in our communities.” She explains that, “An essential feature of CGCC’s grant events is the focus on creating space for conversation, debate among students, scholars, and community members around significant concerns and issues in our region like immigration, the Dream Act, migrant workers, cultural conflicts, and citizenship.”
At the center of the programming is the six-part, NEH-supported documentary film Latino Americans, created for PBS in 2013 by the WETA public television station. The award-winning series chronicles the history of Latinos in the United States from the 16th century to present day. Two episodes of the documentary have been screened at CGCC with scholar-led discussions after the screenings. One more screening will air sometime between March and May.
Alexandra Cannell, CGCC Coordinator of Service Learning, explains the positive outcomes of this work:
This grant provides the opportunity to deepen our relationship with local Latino youth organizations through programming that will serve their youth and educate our own students by giving them avenues to explore their own identities in connection with Latino history and current events. This is a critical component of their personal development that will positively impact their futures and the future of our community.
Programming also involves recording and sharing the histories of local Latino American artists to celebrate the artists’ lives and accomplishments, teach about local history and themes inherent in the artists’ life experiences, and inspire community members, especially the youth, to make art part of their lives for identity exploration, enrichment, and expression. CGCC will display the oral histories collected in their library at Chandler Public Library.
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