Women’s History Month
- March 21, 2023
- UCI Chicano/Latino studies and history associate professor Ana Elizabeth Rosas reflects on generative qualities of her collaborative community project with El Sol Science and Arts Academy of Santa Ana and her research
Women’s History Month has been an energizing opportunity for me to reflect on the generative qualities of collaborating with our community partner, El Sol Science and Arts Academy of Santa Ana (El Sol) and University of California, Irvine (UCI) students and alumni as part of our UCI Public Scholarship Institute and Team, and how our work contributes to UCI’s celebration of the historical importance of women and women’s histories across a diversity of intergenerational learning contexts, relationships, and spaces over time. Since 2019 and as UCI faculty instructor and mentor for this public scholarship team, collaborating with 4th-8th grade students and their teachers, Monique Daviss, Sue Cronmiller, Manuel N. Gómez, Jenny Zavala, and school community members at El Sol and UCI students, alumni, administrators, and staff at UCI has made learning about the intergenerational underpinnings and longevity of El Sol’s history and its relationship to the histories of women together a dynamic community partnership and undertaking. With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, this public scholarship team’s investments in researching, documenting, preserving, and disseminating the revealingly intergenerational configuration and qualities of the writing of El Sol students and parents throughout this school’s history grew in importance. Using zoom workshop curriculum and event programs and over time, carefully coordinated in-person activities and meetings, our public scholarship team did not waver but grew in our forging and sharing spaces that made it accessible to connect to learn from each other and about El Sol’s history of intergenerational engagement with urgency and heart.
This summer our UCI Public Scholarship Team will bring an exhibit and archive to fruition that magnifies the intergenerational imaginaries, depth, priorities, and longevity of the intergenerational writing of El Sol parents. In 2001, upon establishing El Sol, El Sol parents wrote to connect with their children and each other to support an intergenerational educational community, experiences, and vision that proactively prioritized their children’s educational future in the Arts and Sciences. Their writing reveals that women as parents, advocates, organizers, leaders, family relatives, and community members used El Sol classrooms, field trips, and other school activities and spaces, as well as their family households to instill in their children as El Sol students an informed and multi-purposeful appreciation for El Sol, each other, and being taught using dual-language immersion in Spanish and English in each of their classes. In 2002, an El Sol mother wrote a letter to her daughter, who was enrolled in El Sol at this time, in which she advised her daughter to learn Spanish at this school, stressing that it would make it possible for her to understand her experience and past. It is important to note that in 2001, El Sol was the only school in Orange County, California, that used dual-language immersion in Spanish and English to teach K-1st grade students. The exhibit and archive are grounded in supporting an understanding of the history of El Sol’s long-standing efforts to build from the intergenerationally distinct qualities and potential of the writing that has taken place within and beyond its school classrooms in support of the educational aspirations, approaches, and imaginaries of El Sol students and their families and community members. We look forward to launching the exhibit in October 2023 at El Sol and the possibility of the exhibit experience inviting people to consider writing about their educational aspirations and experiences to the students in their family and/or friendship circles and to reflect on such writing’s generative intergenerational potential, like the women who gave so much of their energy, knowledge, skills, and time to write, organize, parent, teach, and/or lead in ways that supported El Sol students and each other and in turn, the future of El Sol and its students across generations.
Learning from the insightful and restorative intergenerational dimensions of our UCI Public Scholarship Team’s efforts informed my pursuit of another intergenerational collaboration that has expanded my research on Latina/o/x and Latina/o/x immigrant people, especially Latina immigrant women’s experiences and histories. In 2022, I was awarded a University of California Humanities Research Institute Foundry guest editorship to bring together a talented interdisciplinary and intergenerational slate of contributors, and develop, discuss, edit, present, and publish the online Foundry issue, Humanizing Acts: Resisting the Historical Erasures of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic across the US-Mexico Borderlands (Humanizing Acts). In this issue, we identify and discuss the revealing capaciousness of each of our investigative and/or creative approaches to researching, creating, and/or writing about the emotional trauma, uncertainty, violence, and/or weight Latina/o/x immigrant people confront as they face the constant rigors of the global COVID-19 pandemic across the US-Mexico borderlands. Collaborating with series contributors invested in the dissemination of humanely generative approaches to the everyday yet under-examined realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible to learn more about the emotional boundaries, dislocations, and responsibilities shouldered by Latina/o/x immigrant people, especially Latina immigrant women struggling with the loss of extended family relatives and fellow activists, longer work shifts, and/or the gendered expectations to selectively recognize the emotional impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. On May 24, 2023, we look forward to presenting and sharing Humanizing Acts as a day-long UCI conference event. I hope that Humanizing Acts and the El Sol exhibit and archive make for intergenerational engagement that supports and values learning more about the diversity and enduring importance of women’s feelings, experiences, imaginaries, ingenuity, contributions, organizing, relationships, leadership, struggles, writings, and histories together and across generations.
Ana Elizabeth Rosas appreciates the generous opportunities, collaboration, contributions, and support of El Sol Science and Arts Academy of Santa Ana, especially those provided by this school’s students and community members. She thanks UCI students, alumni, and staff: Natalie Aguilar, Vanessa N. Torres, Keanu H. Gallardo, Mariana M. Machaen, Jacqueline M. Torres, Wendy Ruiz, Angeles Rosales, Danilo Asdrubal Escobar, Ana L. Delgado, Angelica Flores Valdivia, Sofia Areizaga Flores, Kellie Bendezu, Melanie Mendoza, Stephanie Aguilar, Alexis Rodriguez, Aliyah Muttaqi, Chelsea A. Jimenez, Genesis Mazariegos, Emily P. Figueroa, Sabrina Sanchez, Dante A. Garcia, Pedro E. Puentes, Cynthia Chen Bee, Michelle Spivey, Marcus Kanda, Debora Michel, and Marilu Daum for their outstanding efforts, contributions, and collaboration. Monique Daviss, Bill Maurer, Sue Cronmiller, Manuel N. Gómez, Jenny Zavala, Brandon Torres, and Cecilia Hernandez have supported vitally the UCI Public Scholarship Institute and Team. Dan Bustillo, Angelica Flores Valdivia, Mario Alberto Obando, Jr., Adrian Felix, Christian Paiz, Sue Cronmiller, Amy Sanchez-Arteaga, Misael Diaz, and Alice G. Terriquez have contributed greatly to Humanizing Acts. University-Community Links, UCI’s Office of Inclusive Excellence Spirit Award, UCI’s Office of the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, UCI’s Departments of Chicano-Latino Studies and History, UC Humanities Research Institute, UCI’s Humanities Center’s Building Intellectual Community Grant, and the UCI-Orange County Alliance have also provided invaluable funding and support.
pictured: A mural on display at El Sol Science and Arts Academy of Santa Ana.