Author Archives:

Courtyard at SER murals documentation project/ pamphlet

by Phillip M. Gonzales

I began working on this documentation project in April 2019. The eight murals feature  local artist Ernesto Palomino, considered the “Godfather of Chicano murals in the San Joaquin Valley”, (Fresno area), California. Fernando Hernandez is also a featured artist/muralist. There are six (6) reproductions of classis murals representing the works of “Los Tres Grandes”, “The Three Masters”, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siquerios.

Working with a graduate student, Monica Requejo, from Fresno State University, the project includes: recorded video interviews (some live and some via “Zoom”) with the artists, Mauro Carrera, Ramiro Martinez, and Racquelle Justo. Additionally, we did a live interview with Jesus “Chuy” Padron, CEO/President of SER Program for over 20 years, whose idea it was to do this mural project.

The purpose(s) of this mural project were/are numerous: 1) To feature and pay tribute to local artists/muralists, 2) to “reproduce” murals that reflect important aspects of Mexican/Mexican American/Chicano history, 3) to contribute to the local community by providing a cultural/art location for all community (the Courtyard at SER is located in the “Cultural/Mural District of Fresno, California), 4) to feature local “current” Chicano muralists.

I have been a volunteer with the Community Center for Arts and Technology – C.C.A.T. for several years, where I teach guitar, and in late 2018 we moved our location to the building next door to the SER Program where the “Courtyard at SER” murals are located. Once I became aware of the mural project, I approached Jesus “Chuy” Padron, CEO/President of SER about bringing students in the class (Chicano Artistic Expression) I teach at Fresno State to do a field study and view the murals. He was delighted, and my class was the “first” to visit/view the mural project. Shortly after that I again approached Jesus “Chuy” Padron with the idea of developing an informational pamphlet, and doing documentation of the whole project. Needless to say he was/has been very supportive. 

Featured here with this informational article is a “final draft” of the pamphlet, it is being reviewed by the Board of Directors of SER for final approval and publishing. (see pamphlet link below)

In addition to developing this pamphlet, I once again approached “Chuy” Padron about the possibility of developing an informational plaque or series of plaques. These plaques would be permanent and feature each mural along with information about the artists, related historical information, and meaning/ symbolism related to each mural. Once again “Chuy” was delighted with the idea which is currently being developed with a planned “Unveiling/Dedication” for September, 2020.

For informational purposes, I have been involved in the documentation of Chicano murals since 1980, when I began documenting the “Murales de Mi Tio” which was featured in the Spring 2020-Vol. 45 No. 1 issue of Noticias de NACCS.

Fall 2020, No. 46 No. 1

Action of the NACCS Board Regarding Membership Term

by Ernesto Colín, Treasurer

In the recent past, the NACCS membership term was tied to the calendar year (January 1st – December 31st), while the NACCS fiscal year operates from July 1st – June 30th (aligning to tax, academic, and conference cycles). Accounting and logistics forced to reconcile these two different cycles presented ongoing challenges and increased labor to organization officers, members, and foco/caucus leaders.

After a long-term study of the issues, the Board has shifted the NACCS membership term to align with the organization’s fiscal year, effective July 1, 2021. The Board considered this an opportune time to effectuate this change given the financial landscape of our academic institutions, and the shift in our forthcoming annual meeting. In this transition, current 2020 (calendar year) paid memberships will be extended for a period of six (6) months, until June 30, 2021, with all rights reserved for voting, communications, meetings, and conference submission, presentation, and attendance. Individuals who wish to newly enroll or lapsed memberships which are renewed after July 1, 2020 (in order to participate in forthcoming communications, pláticas, voting, conference submission/attendance), will also have a membership valid until June 30, 2021. If you know of individuals with lapsed membership or who would like to join our organization, please encourage them to enroll now to participate in organization activities in this current cycle.

Membership renewal reminders for the term beginning on July 1, 2021 will be sent out in late Spring 2021 rather than Fall 2020. Please plan on renewing your membership in late Spring – just before the next membership cycle which, again, commences on July 1st, 2021. 

Fall 2020, No. 46 No. 1

NACCS (FY2019-2020) Final Financial Report

Prepared By: Ernesto Colín, PhD (Treasurer) (Version: 16 July 2020)

Covering the period of July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

Fall 2020, No. 46 No. 1

NACCS Board Meeting Minutes from July 2019-June 2020

by Lilia Soto, Secretary

NACCS Board Meeting Minutes from July 2019-June 2020

by Lilia Soto


The following are selected highlights of Board member reports from past approved Board minutes. Board meeting were monthly from July 2019-June 2020.  This includes items from our mid-year meeting hosted in Seattle, October 2019. 

  1. Executive Director: Julia Curry Rodríguez
    1. From July through September 2019, Julia continued to work on closing the 2019 ABQ annual meeting, 2019 elections (at large rep and chair elect), bylaws, and the 2020 annual meeting.  From October 2019, the midyear meeting, through March of 2020, Julia’s main focus became the annual meeting (registration, times/schedules, food/beverages, vendors, AV, exhibitors).  Julia continued to work on bylaws and on application for charitable tax, federal/state exemption.  During Julia’s February 2020 report, she expressed concern on how Covid19 may impact the conference and maintained in close communication with the Seattle Business Bureau.  Julia also continued to work on 2020 elections. The NACCS board held two emergency meetings in March of 2020 to discuss the cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting.  By April of 2020, Julia began working closely with Ernesto Colín on hotel cancellation.  Julia continued to work on 2020 elections.  Updates for May and June 2020 included hotel refund, registration, and elections. 
  1. Associate Director: Kathy Blackmer Reyes
    1. From July through September 2019, Kathy continued to work on proceedings from the 2019 annual meeting, wrapped up lingering tasks from the annual meeting, and early deadlines for the 2020 annual meeting.  Second, Kathy began to receive books for the 2020 book award, set some deadlines for annual meeting, elections, and bylaws.  Finally, Kathy continued to work on membership and website.  October 2020, the Mid-year meeting, Kathy discussed annual meeting related issues including public transportation, awards, and poster presentations for annual meeting. From December 2019-February 2020, Kathy continued to approve membership and renewals, worked on the annual meeting program with Julia and Roberto, schedule, registration, book exhibits, and updates on website and conference information.  Annual meeting deadlines were met.  By March 2020, we had two emergency board meetings to discuss cancellation process, releasing a statement, and registration related issues. During April of 2020, Kathy paused as she was waiting on board to decide on next steps re: elections and online annual meeting.  The board agreed to let the membership decide if we should hold elections for 2020 or if we should keep the board until 2021.  For May-June 2020, Kathy reported on the newsletter, polling for elections, on how membership is growing, and receiving reimbursement requests.  Kathy also updated us on the website, posting messages on violence and BLM, and the upcoming newsletter.
  1. Chair:  Karleen Pendleton Jiménez
    1. From July through September 2019, Karleen wrote support letters, discussed chair-elect search, conference location, resolutions, bios for bylaws, and communication statements. During the October 2019 midyear meeting, Karleen reported on other statements, including the U.S. census and climate change.  From December 2019-February 2020, Karleen continued to work on annual meeting related matters (Castañeda Award, NACCS scholar), the noticias de NACCS, and setting meeting times for spring.  In March 2020, we had two meetings where we discussed cancelling the annual meeting and the follow up steps. From April-May 2020, Karleen worked on noticias de NACCS and letters to members.  By June 2021, we had a more extensive discussion for a 2021 online meeting, (purpose, date, themes and next steps), and elections for 2021.  There were two motions:  first, we had a motion to not have a physical conference for 2021.  Second, we had a motion to move that the board affirms results of the poll conducted to membership to retain current board until spring 2021.  
  1. Chair Elect: Roberto D. Hernández
    1. Roberto was elected as chair-elect in September and joined the board during the midyear meeting.  During the October 2019 midyear meeting, Roberto reported on the CFP and circulated it in English and Spanish, and on submissions and reviewers.  From December 2019 through February 2020, Roberto continued to report on reviewers and events for annual meeting, including planning, programs, plenary speakers, and program image.  We had two emergency meetings during the month of March 2020.  From April-June 2020, Roberto discussed pláticas, including themes and speakers.
  1. Past Chair: Aureliano DeSoto
    1. From July 2019-June 2020, Aureliano reported on bylaws, co-wrote statements (George Floyd), and suggested themes for newsletters, including Covid19, and Chicana/o/x Studies.
  1. Treasurer: Ernesto Colín
    1. From July-September 2019, Ernesto reported outcomes of meetings with Julia and Chalane Lechuga (past-Treasurer) for accounting work, presented updates on account balances including the Castañeda endowment, and gave a financial report for fiscal year.  Ernesto resubmitted the proposal for moving membership from calendar to fiscal year. During the October 2019 midyear meeting, Ernesto reported on the Castañeda endowment, ongoing assets and liabilities, 2019 conference accounting, NACCS debt for professional services, organizational membership status, and treasurer policy proposals such as changing membership cycles and including merchant fees into financial transactions. From December 2019-February 2020, Ernesto presented costs for website redesign, scholarship outlays, agenda for financial retreat with Julia, and account balances.  In relation to the conference, Ernesto reported on plaques, website, membership, registration, and revamping leadership meeting. In March 2020, the board had two emergency meetings to discuss the cancellation of the annual meeting. From April-June 2020, Ernesto expanded on moving membership to fiscal year, financial retreat with Julia, figuring out a mechanism to offer refunds for conference registration, and revisiting our website. His report also included bank account balance.
  1. Secretary: Lilia Soto
    1. Minutes are reports. 
  1. At-Large Reps:
  1. Maria Gonzalez: From July-September 2019, Maria met with Francisco to divide regions, book awards, and next set of proceedings.  Maria also worked on communication with Focos and Caucuses (F/Cs), proceedings from ABQ 2019 annual meeting, and volunteers for the 2020 book awards. During the October 2019 midyear meeting, Maria reported on F/Cs leadership. From December 2019-February 2020, Maria reported on book awards and the completion of proceedings.  We had two emergency meetings on March 2020 to discuss next steps.  From April-June 2020, Maria reported on the requests she received from Compas regarding a virtual conference.  This prompted discussions for pláticas.  
  1. Francisco Villegas: From July-September 2019, Francisco presented on a proposed virtual conference organized by the Midwest Foco with support from the Rocky Mountain FOCO.  Francisco also proposed moving annual meeting office hours to book exhibit area.  He also expressed that he wants to take lead on the Cervantes premio and began looking for readers.  Finally, he also asked if F/Cs can have the same rep/chair.  During the October 2019 midyear, Francisco gave updates on F/Cs leadership and the Cervantes award.  From December 2019-February 2020, Francisco reported on Cervantes prize.  We held two emergency meetings during March 2020.  From April-June 2020, Francisco met with Maria and Tereza and reorganized F/Cs.  Francisco suggested that we suspend numbers of members for F/Cs until next year’s conference.  
  1. Tereza Szeghi:  Tereza joined the board by October of 2019.  From December 2019-February 2020, Tereza reached out to Focos & Caucuses renewing connections.  She provided an update on how the Castañeda award. During two emergency meetings March of 2020.  Tereza volunteered to do surveys for elections.  From April-June 2020, Tereza reported on Focos & Caucuses and on how to make some FOCOs more interactive, especially in regions where the orientation is toward Latinx Studies.
  1. New Business/Any Other Business:  There were several items that were also discussed by the board.  Below I wrote what we discussed:
    1. July 2019:  nothing more to add
    2. August 2019: 
      1. Elections—should we run elections without Chair elect?
      2. Location for conference:  Pacific Northwest.  Julia will be looking into either Seattle or Portland.  
      3. Theme:  if there is no chair elect, Lilia, Ernesto, and Karleen will be on planning program committee.  
    3. September 2019:
      1. What is the local community involvement for conferences? The executive director reaches out to FOCOs and works with them.
    4. October 2019:  Midyear Meeting 
      1. By-laws
      2. Elections/nominations
      3. Policy proposals of changing membership to fiscal year and charging merchant fees
      4. Annual meeting, including panels, scholar nomination, registration, community involvement, events, and accessibility
      5. Questions about conflict of interest with Cervantes, book, and Castañeda Award
      6. Conference rotation
    5. December 2019:  Nothing more to add
    6. January 2020:  
      1.  Nominations—Francisco and Maria would like to run as At large reps
      2. Is it a concern to have Focos & Caucuses with lower numbers than stipulated in the by-laws?
    7. February 2020: Nothing more to add.
    8. March 2020:  We had two emergency meetings regarding cancelling the annual meeting.  
      1. March 9th:  Need to send statement to membership including practical details.  Should we have a virtual conference?
      2. March13th:  What kind of statement will be released? And, what are the next steps?  
    9. April 2020: 
      1. Virtual Conference? Here are choices: No Virtual Conference, paired down version, paired down list of speakers.  Board Members voted.  
      2. Do we carry any pieces of the conference from 2020 to 2021?
      3. Elections:  Do we carry board over?  Let the membership decide.  
    10. May 2020:
      1. Refunds, cancellation letter, 
      2. Need to consider next year’s conference.
    11. June 2020:
      1. Noticias
      2. Membership meeting
      3. Pláticas

(Please note that we did not have a meeting in November 2019)

Fall 2020, No. 46 No. 1

From the NACCS Chair

by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez, Chair 2019-2020

When everything hit, I thought of that first sueño of Moraga’s Loving in the War Years (1983) when two lovers are trapped in a prison camp, and one considers escaping. She decides against it: “But I immediately understand that we must, at all costs, remain with each other. Even unto death. That it is our being together that makes the pain, even our dying, human” (p. i). The words seem so relevant to me today as we attempt to live in a pandemic. It’s a time when our vulnerabilities are more dangerous, when the weaknesses of social support structures are more deadly, when discriminatory practices are exponentially cruel. What does it mean in these times to stay “together” with one another, and to keep our humanity intact?

I feel both safe and trapped in my home. I’ve scrambled to put courses online, to finish grading, to get used to interacting with others covered by masks, to participate in university planning meetings, to love my girlfriend, to take care of my daughter. I tell my daughter that her only job, really, is to try to make it through the day, while she tells me that ice-cream sandwiches will get us through this pandemic. I hope you all are figuring out ways to cope and care for one another in these weird and uncertain times.

As we struggle to support our students and to keep colleges and universities afloat, I think it’s a significant moment for us to show the many ways we can act for the public good. Colleges and universities have been able to offer housing for isolated health care workers, provide personal protective equipment, gymnasiums for hospital overflow, conduct frantic vaccine studies, research in mental health, the environment, racism/sexism/classism/homophobia/transphobia, police/state aggression, literature, media, and civil rights, among others. Let’s imagine the many possibilities for how Chicana/o/x Studies will help contribute to the public good through our commitment to activism, art, literature, family, community, migration, history, food studies, equity, and many others. We are also experts at survival, such important knowledge during times of crises.            

I can’t thank all of you enough for your patience and understanding when COVID-19 first hit us and we were trying to convince the conference hotel (for our annual conference) to release us from the contract. It was very frustrating to not be able to communicate with clarity to you. The board, executive director and associate director worked many hours above our usual duties to make decisions, process, analyze, and craft communication. I also want you to know that before the pandemic hit us, we were able to address two important issues discussed at the NACCS 2019 annual business meeting: 1) NACCS is paying off the consultant fees (page 2 of financial report) to our Executive Director and Associate Director, and 2) NACCS has submitted the federal tax-exempt documents (1023 form).

Most of the articles in this newsletter were prepared immediately before our communities were shut down. They reflect our lives on the edge of the pandemic. They celebrate our publications, honours, and pedagogies. I hope you enjoy them and consider contributing to the summer edition of Noticias de NACCS.

Take care.

Moraga, C. (1983). Loving in the war years: lo que nunca pasó por sus labios. Boston: South End Press.

Spring 2020 – Vol. 45 No. 1

Statement on State-Sanctioned Violence Against Black Communities in the United States

We, the community of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS), ever attentive to our historical lineage, are compelled to respond to currently transpiring events in the United States and across the world.

As Chicanx/as/os and Latinx/as/os, we stand today arm in arm with Black peoples and communities against police violence and against state, federal and local governments that condone and legitimize the brutal police treatment of people of color. We refuse to stand by and see our Black and Brown familia treated like criminals and victimized by state violence year after year, month after month, day after day. The true criminal element here is the unrestrained power of police forces that consistently get away with murder over and over again, as prosecutors look the other way and politicians make excuses.

We are outraged by the most recent attacks on Black people in the United States: the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Breonna Taylor, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, all of whom tragically join a much longer list of the hundreds of Black people assassinated by agents of the state. Similarly, the shocking police violence against peaceful protesters and journalists this week in cities across the United States weighs on us heavily.

To live in this brutal, violent nation is to confront on a daily basis an awful truth: its constant and historical debasement of human life, especially Black life. This has been long known to many of us, especially those whose expertise directs us to critically analyze these issues in the course of our research and teaching. Our hope is that from the trauma on the streets of Minneapolis and in cities around the country, a different perspective will emerge, and that the United States will enter into deep conversations of racial citizenship, institutional responsibilities, social and cultural relationships, continuing discrimination, and demand equity.

Tied as NACCS is to the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, and linked as that movement has been to the activism of Black Power, we inform the Black community and its allies of our solidarity with your grievances and your historic and contemporary resistance to the forces of white supremacy. Our solidarity is rooted in the general calls for support by members of the Black community, as it is by the pain of “Gringo Justice,” about which we are only too intimately aware. We will continue to struggle to pursue tangible justice-oriented solutions with you, and roundly condemn the state-sponsored violence against Black peoples in the United States, and social and economic violence that breeds it.

Black Lives Matter.

The Board and Membership of the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies

(with writing from José Prado, Rosaura Sanchez, Aureliano DeSoto, and Karleen Pendleton Jiménez)

Treasurer Report for NACCS, May 2020

by Ernesto Colín, PhD, Treasurer

Dear colegas:

I wish to open my remarks with a note of sincere gratitude for my predecessor, Dr. Chalane Lechuga, who served as treasurer of the organization for several years and mentored me in the role. Under her stewardship, we organized data for comparative trend analysis, maintained sound fiscal strategies, and aligned reporting to tax categories. Similar gratitude goes to Dr. Julia Curry Rodríguez and Kathy Blackmer Reyes who helped me reconcile at least five different and complex financial systems in operation at NACCS and have supported our infrastructure, website, conference, policy, by-laws, and incorporation processes in the past year.

We are currently in the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year, which spans from July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2020, but I return to the previous fiscal year for a moment. We ended the previous fiscal year (FY 18-19) in an auspicious position. Using round numbers, we finished the previous fiscal year with about $61,000 in our main account, compared to about $25,000 the previous year (FY 17-18; Minnesota conference). I attribute our financial standing in the FY 18-19 to good membership renewals/enrollments and a remarkably successful conference in Albuquerque, where our executive director negotiated a favorable contract and conference registrations were strong. The location, theme, turnout, panels, as well as donations, in-kind contributions, and ad/vendor sales were also markedly strong.

The revenue (and expenses) of our “financially fragile organization”–to quote Aureliano De Soto–are closely tied to the annual conference. Going forward, if we are going to practice responsible stewardship of the organization we must continue to be mindful of conference site selection. Additionally, I take this opportunity to remind all members of the crucial importance of membership renewal, advertisement and vendor sponsorships, and paying conference registration.

Turning to the current fiscal year, we are still in a stable financial position. Attached, please see our detailed mid-term FY report. (Not included is our Castañeda endowment account, whose balance is tied to stock indices, and had experienced positive gains in the past two FYs). Our key expenses included the mid-year board meeting and conference-planning for the Seattle location and our professional services costs. Additionally, and in accordance with the memorandum of October 2018, the board approved a payment of 10% of the organization’s outstanding debt for past professional services. Seattle was an attractive site, but one that represented higher costs (space, audio-visual, room rate, food & beverage). The organization made a significant down payment on the conference and the conference was subsequently cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second half of FY 19-20, our revenue streams were less active because we did not hold a conference, but our expenses came down in tandem. We will finish the FY in a sound fiscal position and will continue to monitor the developments in the emergent health, economic, travel, and academic environment and adjust the planning and execution of future NACCS gatherings. Our organization will certainly contend with the impacts with the support of the membership.

Lastly, I share some of the ongoing projects the treasurer is coordinating with the board of the organization. These projects include solving the organization’s burden of unsustainable merchant fees for credit card transactions, studying the alignment of the membership term to the FY instead of the calendar year, updating the website, and refreshing leadership orientation.

In solidarity…

Spring 2020 – Vol. 45 No. 1

Chicana Caucus Report

by Yvette J. Saavedra and Isabel A. Millán, Chicana Caucus Co-Chairs

In light of the unfortunate cancellation of the 2020 NACCS Conference in Seattle, we wanted to update you on what we had been planning. Continuing our commitment to student support, the Chicana Caucus has awarded three student scholarships to help fund students who would have presented at the conference. Following the Chicana Caucus Plenary tradition of centering timely, cutting edge scholarship, our 2020 plenary speakers were to be: Dr. Sandra Pacheco, Dr. Francisco Galarte, and Dr. Doris Careaga-Coleman. We had hoped that our speakers could engage the theme of Reshaping Our Bodies of Knowledge: Transcending the Limits of Chicana/x Studies Plenary. Additionally, we had hoped to present Dr. Amanda V. Ellis the Chicana Caucus Publication Recognition plaque for her article, “Bruja, Curandera, Y Lechuza: Collapsing Borders and Fusing Images.” This piece, recently published in the Fall 2019 issue of the Chicana/Latina Studies, exemplifies the kind of scholarship we seek to produce and engage with as part of Chicana Studies. Lastly, we wished to recognize our student scholarship recipients, as well as nominate new co-chairs for 2020-2022. Please consider running!

As we end our term as co-chairs we would like to convey our gratitude to the Chicana Caucus membership for giving us the opportunity to represent you in the organization. Also, our thanks to the NACCS leadership for their support. This has been a wonderful experience for the both of us.

Spring 2020 – Vol. 45 No. 1

2019 NACCS-Tejas Foco, Mid-year Report

by Jesse Esparza and Samantha Rodriguez, NACCS Tejas Foco Co-Chairs

A. Report on NACCS Tejas Foco 2019:

  • The 2019 NACCS Tejas Foco was held at Houston Community College System, Eastside Campus, from February 14-16th. The conference theme was “Semillas de Poder: Honoring Chicana/o/x Movements & Mapping 21st Century Resistance”.
  • Many thanks to the conference chair, Dr. Natalie Garza, and the hosting committee for putting together the 13th consecutive NACCS Tejas Foco. The entire HCC community was welcoming to the NACCS Tejas Foco Conference presenters and participants. Many Foco members commented that the conference was well-organized. With the assistance of community organizations, universities and colleges as well as HCC deans, the chancellor of instruction, and faculty from various divisions, the conference organizers were able to cover the costs. We had approximately 300 people register for the conference and the conference was free for HCC students. 

B. Awards Committees and Reports:

  • Non-Fiction: Samantha Rodriguez serves as chair. Dr. Monica Muñoz Martinez won for her work entitled The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas. Honorable Mention was given to Dr. Melita Garza’s They Came to Toil: Newspaper Representations of Mexicans and Immigrants in the Great Depression.
  • Young Adult/Fiction: Reyes Ramirez serves as chair. Alex Temblador won for her young adult novel Secrets of the Casa Rosada and Daniel Peña won for his debut novel Bang.
  • Dissertation: This is the only monetary award (approximately $500 this year); Jaime Mejia serves as chair. Dr. Miguel Juárez won for “From Concordia to Lincoln Park: An Urban History of Highway Building in El Paso, Texas,” a dissertation from the University of Texas, El Paso.
  • Premio Estudiantil: No awardee this year; Students and professors can nominate; Leo Treviño and Tiffany González serve as co-chairs. Efforts have been made to ensure that student nominations are put in place so that this award is distributed.
  • Poetry Book: Isaac Chavarria serves as chair. Rubi Orozco Santos won for Inventos Míos.
  • Premio Estrella de Aztlán: Former premio winners serve on the committee; Beto Calderón serves as chair. Graciela Sánchez and Eddie Arellano won this award for the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center and the Discover College Life Project respectively.

C. K-12 Meeting Report:

  • Third Annual Free MAS Summit: June 15, 2019 in San Antonio, Texas at Our Lady of the Lake University. Approximately 300 teachers and community leaders attended this year’s summit.

D. Report on NACCS Tejas Foco 2020:

  • The 14th consecutive annual conference was set to be held at South Texas College, Pecan Campus, in McAllen, Texas from March 5-7th. The chair of the planning committee is Dr. Trinidad Gonzalez ( The theme of next year’s conference is Chicanx Praxis.
  • Specific information about the 2019 conference, including the CFP, can be found on our website:
  • Find us on Facebook:
  • Texas A&M University, Kingsville is interested in hosting the 2021 NACCS Tejas Foco.

Life After University

by Jaime Humberto García, NACCS Chair, 2011-2012

from Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca

For over twenty years I worked at universities and year by year observed conditions deteriorate. While demands in all areas increased, little if any assistance was provided to meet growing expectations. Recognition of service to professional organizations was weakly acknowledged even as faculty was encouraged to take on these roles. As I spent time on the work needed as a National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies officer, the promised support from the university never materialized.

The consequences included an annual review that inaccurately reflected my performance. In the end it led to removal of my tenure status when two University of Texas System campuses were merged. Subsequently, I made the decision to leave the profession. However, what I had gained during university life was not something the system could take away.

Throughout the years in university life my skill set and interests shifted. Though my doctorate is in educational psychology, much of my work shifted more to social psychology. NACCS was in part responsible for that shift. What I found so refreshing about NACCS conferences was that they were, and continue to be, interdisciplinary. Attending sessions involving research in a variety of disciplines provided me with ideas for my own work.

After leaving the university and not having enough activity in my life, I began looking for volunteer opportunities in Latin America. After weeks of research I settled on Centro de Esperanza Infantil in Oaxaca de Juárez. My selection of that program was based on two main factors. First, the services offered in the program are similar to a program where my university students completed their service learning hours. Secondly, and more importantly, I was drawn to the values stated in their operating principles: respect for the cultures and languages of the program’s participants.

Centro de Esperanza Infantil (CEI) is a foundation that solicits sponsors to cover the school expenses of children and youth. Students in the program are among the poorest in the state and would otherwise not attend school. The center provides a range of services from school supplies and uniforms to tutorial services to breakfast and lunch. The majority of the participants are from one of the many indigenous groups found in Oaxaca and some speak an indigenous language as their first language along with Spanish.

Initially the plan was to volunteer for four months then divide my time between Oaxaca and the States. I was not there more than two months before I realized that this was home. Oaxaca was where I should to be. Apart from CEI the city and state are culturally vibrant. My time is divided between CEI and cultural events and festivals in the area.

My activity at CEI is divided in three areas: homework assistance, English tutorials, and play. Homework assistance is mostly with primaria children and part of that is teaching them study skills. English tutorials are with secundaria, preparatoria, and universitaria students. Beginning in secundaria, English is a part of the curriculum. Play occurs in the form of games and park trips with primaria children and joking with older program participants during tutorials.

My skills as an educational psychologist have served me well as I work with children and youth, although there have been some adjustments. I have had to adjust my expectations of the behavior of program participants. For example, when teaching about social distance in a university discussion I would include cultural differences as a factor in that behavior. Here children and youth up to about 14 years of age have no conception of social distance. I expected that younger elementary students would have a close social space but I did not expect students in first or second year of secundaria (seventh and eighth grade) to stand or sit very close and even place their hand on my back or shoulder. This occurs more with boys than girls, which is expected. Also, the attitude toward homework is definitely different in that it is not negative. They stay focused with or without supervision. Likewise, the general cheerfulness of the program participants creates a pleasant environment.

One area that did concern me was the distancing of participants from their mother language, particularly the younger ones. When asked whether they spoke any languages other than Spanish, the response was always no. When later I heard them speaking an indigenous language I asked what language was being spoken to which they replied that it was a nonsense language. One later admitted they were speaking Triqui. I had purchased a book on basic Zapoteco that had an excellent introduction that included the importance of language preservation. After having this group of program participants read that section their attitudes changed and they openly would speak in Triqui and began to teach me basic phrases and terms.

Outside of CEI there have been a range of activities that occupy my time. There are dozens of exhibit openings, book presentations, performance art events, lectures, and more, every week. Much is learned from attending these events. These are not only personally rewarding but also provide information that I can share with the children and youth with whom I work.

My experiences engaging with the program participants led me to sponsor two children. The director initially brought me a stack of folders and asked if I wanted to select a child to sponsor. I left the decision to her discretion. I had no idea how to select and asked her to do so. Later she asked if I was interested in sponsoring a second participant whom I already knew, one I had worked with since my first days at CEI. I said yes, so I now have two ahijados. (The terms used for sponsors and sponsored participants are madrina, padrino, ahijado, and ahijada.) The two have enriched my life further.

While there was value in university life there was also much to contend with. Through my experience with NACCS, developing collegial relationships and friendships became an important part of managing university life. As I noted, my research and teaching was enriched as a result of my involvement in NACCS. Now, all those experiences have resulted in an active and more rewarding life where I continue to use the knowledge I have gained in a variety of areas. Further, in the process of working with program participants I get to see them grow and develop. So, while the end of my academic career ended in a stressful and unpleasant experience it led me to move to a place where I have a better life. Leaving university created an opportunity.

Spring 2020 – Vol. 45 No. 1