May 8, 2013
“We Are All Arizona”: Reflections on 2012 MALCS Summer Institute at UCSB
Reflecting on the recent observances of Cesar Chavez Day (March 31st) and Cinco de Mayo (May 5th), and in anticipation of the upcoming 2013 MALCS Summer Institute (July 17-20th , Ohio State), Diversity Forum Online takes a look back at MALCS 2012 Summer Institute held here on the UC Santa Barbara Campus. Last summer, Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), aka, Women Active in Letters and Social Change, members invoked a provocative and relevant theme centering on the immigration reform movement and political activism that said “We are all Arizona!” Participants explored a range of research, scholarly, and topical matters, shared artworks and cultural artifacts, and strengthened networks during the two days of activities.
We are thankful to Ester Trujillo for providing us with an informative glimpse into the 2012 MALCS institute that convened appropriately at the UC Santa Barbara Multicultural Center.
Today’s morning sessions covered everything from how to use testimonio as method and how to survive the process of promotion from Assistant Professor to the next level. There was a panel on technology that serendipitously congregated in a room where the learning that occurred was truly organic and natural.
During the lunch break, the vending area received conference traffic as conference participants descended upon Storke Plaza to see the items for sale by local vendors and artists. Among jewelry and prints of artworks, books and dream catchers decorated the landscape. After the lunch break the first Summer Institute Plenary attracted over 150 conference attendees, UCSB students, and community members.
The testimonio video Stephanie showed reminded me of many of the experiences I have had in my quest to enter higher education both at the undergraduate level and the graduate level. The way the students at UTPA coordinated the Anzaldúa exhibit was truly inspirational. The project presented by Stephanie Alvarez titled “Cosecha Voices” (which documents the migrant farm worker experience) integrates performance, testimonio, and incorporates digital storytelling and diálogo with familia and amigos. When she mentioned that 80% of the students who participate in these projects graduate there was a feeling of happiness and pride throughout the auditorium. The plenary concluded with the summary of the message the panelists have tried to convey: Acknowledging invisibility because by making it visible people have to react. They may not take action but seeing it occur has the ability to transform both those who see the change and those who participate in its making.
During session VIII, I attended a panel titled “Striving for Social Justice: Women of Color Lawyers’ Reflections on Education and Careers” which was composed of three tremendously amazing attorneys, discussed by Jessica Lopez Lyman, and moderated by Aida Hurtado: Chair of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB and Chair of the Summer Institute. Public Defender Jessica Delgado, Arcelia Hurtado of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Simona Farrise of the Farrise Law Firm spoke about the challenges and strategies they have engaged on their journey as women of color lawyers in different types of law practice. The presence of several undergraduate students at this panel demonstrated that relationships of mentorship and guidance make MALCS tick and give it its signature essence.
You can find even more of Ester’s vivid descriptions of the conference here: