Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011-04-19 "Napa Valley College students hold 'teach in' for ethnic studies" by Sarah Rohrs from "Vallejo Times-Herald" newspaper
NAPA -- Julio Soriano rarely found much about his native Mexican culture in school textbooks after he came to the United States from Mexico a decade ago.
"I couldn't see a reflection of myself in textbooks or studies," said Soriano, a Napa Valley College student pursuing Chicano or Latin American studies.
To call attention to the importance of ethnic studies, Soriano joined students and teachers who held "teach-ins" in the morning and afternoon to defend such courses in the face of impending budget cuts.
"We want them to know the importance of diverse education and the need to learn about each other and our own roots," he said.
With Napa College still waiting for state lawmakers to pass a budget, it's unclear what cuts will be made, college Director of Community Relations Betty Malmgren said. The class schedule for the fall semester is not yet finalized, she added.
Monday's activities at Napa College coincided with a national "Day of Action to Defend Ethnic Studies" held throughout the country.
Student event organizer Alex Shantz said ethnic studies are often viewed as "expendable" and easy to cut when money is tight. "We want to let the college know we feel they are crucial," he said.
In an open area before McCarthy Library, students gathered in a circle around teachers holding discussions or conducting lesson plans.
Filipino American Studies teacher Janet Stickmon drew about 40 students around her as she spoke about subtle and overt forms of oppression, stereotyping and cultural assimilation.
Later in the morning, she spoke on "Loving our Hair, our Skin and our Intellect -- Ways to Combat Internalized Racism and Main Ancestral Connection," according to the day's schedule.
Student Brian Molina said ethnic studies allows students to step outside bigotry and challenge stereotypes with knowledge about other cultures.
"We see multiculturalism alive in many of our neighborhoods. However, we do not see multiculturalism alive in many of our textbooks," Molina said.

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