The second day of MALCS got started off bright and early as the cool sea breeze rolled onto campus. At 9:00 I walked over to make sure all the panels were set and ready to go with their individual technology requests and I ran into none other than Ana Nieto Gomez! I had one of those moments when you become star struck by experiencing your first encounter with a scholar you have read and heard stories of. Just a few hours before I was in my apartment talking with conference attendee Liliana Trujillo and conference presenter Gloria Negrete about Maylei Blackwell’s book Chicana Power! and about the struggles our scholarly fore-madres have faced in reflection of yesterday’s Plenary on Institutional Violence. You can only imagine my surprise to see Ana in front of me when I had not even had a chance to get my coffee!
During the second plenary, there were approximately 97 people in attendance. Plenary II was titled “Technologies of Visibility: The practice of Diálogo, Testimonio y Performance” During the session, attorney Arcelia Hurtado presented a video displaying the testimonio of a young boy whose dads are gay and explained the impact that policy has on changing the ways young people feel about themselves. Martha Gonzalez showed a video displaying the ways fandango brings women together and how teaching fandango and teaching dance and musical production brings in a new method of teaching about culture and about life.
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.
The concluding portion of the plenary was particularly striking as Martha, Arcelia and Stephanie had the concluding synthesis presentation in which they asked plenary attendees to recite the theory on which these projects are based upon., all together in unison and in one voice. The digital storytelling has given me a breadth of ideas for my own knowledge producing methodologies and it has provided me with ideas that I can implement in my classrooms as I teach.
In the evening, MALCS attendees gathered at Casa de la Raza in Downtown Santa Barbara where we settled into our tables and ate a delicious dinner. Tortuga Award winners Gloria Cuádraz and Raquel López were announced and although Gloria was not there, Raquel gave a moving speech about her tenure as the director of Casa de la Raza. Following the presentation of the awards a collective of women named Entre Mujeres played a set of jarocho and jarocho-inspired music and dance. After a long night of selling raffle tickets, winners were announced and Rusty Barceló won the grand prize, a New black 16GB iPad. Other winners included Elvia Niebla, Cristina Serna, and Georgina Guzman. After the winners were announced the DJ got the party started with an amazing set of music and I spotted Chela Sandoval, Edwina Barvosa, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Norma Cantú and Aida Hurtado dancing the night away.
After the amazing centerpieces were swept away by attendees and the tables were picked up by the various clean up crews and the last shuttle vans rolled out, we went home with our feet throbbing, with joy in our hearts and sisterhood in our waking and sleeping dreams.