APPLES Global Course Guanajuato inspires
Karen Obando ‘13
“It all started with a 52-hour bus ride from Carrboro to Guanajuato,” said Hannah Gill ’99, course instructor of APPLES Global Course Guanajuato (INTS 390). After traveling to Guanajuato, Mexico in the summer of 2006, Sarah Plastino ’07 and Gill established relationships with community members that had been affected by immigration in the region and added a global component to the course with the support of APPLES. Through APPLES Global Course Guanajuato, a class that focuses on Latin American immigrant perspectives, a group of students have had the opportunity to take service-learning abroad for the past five years.
Students who participate in this three-credit service-learning course become more aware of the social and economic issues of the quickly growing local Latino migrant population. By spending spring break in Guanajuato, they also experience an invaluable learning opportunity to see how immigration affects the families of those who have traveled to the United States. “While in Mexico, students see first-hand how people live in these rural villages, where family separation [due to] migration presents a number of financial and education challenges for community residents,” said Gill. The global experience is a unique extension of the material discussed in the classroom, which partially focuses on the local immigrant population in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.
This spring, another cohort of 11 students are participating in this interdisciplinary course that combines qualitative methods, migration theory and ethnographic research of local and international communities of Latino immigrants and their families. Throughout the semester, students will conduct a series of interviews with Latin American immigrants living in the area using an ethnographic method including preparation, transaction and transcription of interviews. According to former INTS 390 student Molly Acuff ’13, “[Ethnographic research] gave us the opportunity to put faces to the people we learned about, [so we] really got to know some individual stories.” In addition to ethnographic research, students will also interact with the community by volunteering with organizations that serve the local Latino immigrant population, such as the Human Rights Center at Abbey Court.
Since the course’s inception, several students have been inspired to continue building a community infrastructure in Guanajuato using the knowledge and experiences gained from the class. After working closely with the Fundacion Comunitaria del Bajio in Guanajuato, Carlos Toriello ‘07 was encouraged to help the organization with its commitment to community development. By collaborating with Nourish International, Toriello secured a $15,000 grant that allowed Carolina students to establish a community center in El Gusano in 2007. That summer, Sandra Hinderliter ‘09 and Tatiana Brezina ’11 led a group of UNC students to work in El Gusano teaching English and conducting community needs assessments.
Now known as Project Guanajuato, several UNC students have spent their summer participating in an internship in Guanajuato by helping the Fundacion Comunitaria develop youth leadership and micro-credit enterprise programs. Because of their efforts, the project has expanded, impacting the Trancas and Tamaulas communities in addition to El Gusano. Helping students understand the political, economic and social implications of immigration both locally and abroad, APPLES Global Course Guanajuato has been a catalyst for community development and will continue to encourage students to become more socially and culturally aware about an issue that is so relevant in the United States today.
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Instructor Hannah Gill and 2011
Global Course Guanajuato class.
Teaching assistant Marissa Garcia
with students in the Trancas community.
Guanajuato community partner organizations.