One of the most diverse states in Mexico, Oaxaca has a vibrant mix of indigenous cultures, cuisine, art, and folkloric traditions, with 17 distinct ethnic groups and more than 50 spoken dialects. For the spring semester, professors Rosario de Swanson (Spanish language and literature) and Brad Heck (video and film studies) co-taught a course titled Oaxaca: Cultural Exchange and Creative Collaboration, which culminated with a visit to the region in May.
“Besides learning about the cultural diversity and history of Oaxaca, during the course of the semester our students communicated with students from the Oaxacan Learning Center,” says Rosario. This grassroots center provides academic tutoring and social-service support to low-income students from underserved urban neighborhoods and indigenous rural villages throughout the state of Oaxaca. “Through regular Skype sessions with their Oaxacan counterparts, they created a film script that was then shot during our two-week stay.”
Prior to their trip, the students organized a raffle as a fundraiser for the Oaxacan Learning Center, raising nearly $500, which they presented to the center on behalf of Marlboro College. “We hope to continue collaborating with this institution, which helps students serve as role models for their communities— their mission matches Marlboro’s spirit,” says Rosario.