Kathy (center) with members of Los Otros Dreamers.
Let me introduce myself!
Hi, I’m Kathy Bougher, instructor for Mexican Perspectives on Migration. I’d like to tell you a little about the course and why it is so important to me.
I’m an instructor in the School of Education and Human Development at UCD in the MA Program in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education. So, I work with teachers who teach immigrant students who are emerging bilinguals, sometimes referred to as English learners. I taught in Denver Public Schools for twenty-five years, primarily working with bilingual immigrant students in middle school and high school, before I came to UCD. Much of my commitment to immigration work comes from listening to my students’ stories during those years. I’m also part of several organizations in Denver working for the human rights of immigrants. I’ve traveled extensively in Mexico and Central America for three decades, and I’m a fluent Spanish speaker.
I’ve taught other courses on immigration, and several years ago I took groups of Denver teachers on trips to the US-Mexico border to learn about immigration issues and Mexican schools. So, I’m excited to offer this course in the central part of Mexico focusing on immigration. It’s open to all undergraduate and graduate students from any major or program.
I see a couple of “big-picture” goals with this course. One is that U.S. immigration laws, policies and practices impact people all over the world, including all of us, whether or not we ourselves are recent immigrants or have family or friends who are immigrants. So, as members of our communities, the more informed we are, the better decisions we can help make. In addition, for those who are educators, we often work with immigrant students and families. When we become more informed about our students and their experiences and backgrounds, the better the relationships we can build with them and their families, and the richer the educational experiences we can provide.
As a student in this course you will be exposed to a variety of issues and points of view on multiple migration and immigration questions that play out in Mexico. Mexico is an amazing crossroad where Mexicans who have family who have migrated to the US interact with Central Americans who are trans-migrants, that is, traveling through Mexico in route to the United States. Mexico also brings in refugees from many places around the globe. In addition, Mexicans who have lived in the U.S. return to Mexico either on their own or because of deportation. So, it’s a complex picture and every one of these aspects of migration links to decisions made in the U.S. and other countries, and impacts people in many parts of the globe.
So what experiences will you have in this course? You’ll meet people from organizations such as Los Otros Dreamers, The Other Dreamers, a group of young adults who were born in Mexico, went with their families to live in the US as small children, and then either were deported or chose to return to Mexico. They’ll share their stories about the traumatic experience of deportation, family separation and adaptation to a new life in Mexico, sometimes including learning or relearning Spanish, and their struggles to study in universities and find meaningful work.
We’ll go to rural communities where women who are single heads of households because of migration organize popular theater around political issues and make products from medicinal plants. We’ll talk with human rights experts about intense issues such as human trafficking and disappeared migrants. We’ll visit a migrant shelter where Central Americans who travel through Mexico on freight trains seek refuge for a couple of nights.
We’ll learn about the growing numbers of migrants returning from the US and talk to families and educators in schools with returning students who may have had all their education in English in the US.
We’ll also visit cultural and historical sites in Mexico City, Tlaxcala and Puebla, in order to provide some context to the issues around immigration and to get a bit of a picture of life in central Mexico. We’ll spend time with university students in the city of Puebla and share insights and perspectives on migration, university studies and the experience of teaching. And, that’s just a sample of what you’ll be doing and learning.
Being able to speak Spanish is not a requirement for this course, but it will be extremely helpful.
If this looks like an experience that would enrich your education and your perspectives on the world, keep looking through the blog postings on this site, email me with any questions, and talk to the people in the UCD Office of Global Education. They can also help you with questions about financial aid or scholarship resources. I will be happy to set up a time to talk with you by Skype, too. I’m here in Mexico and Central America until the end of March, but I’m easily available. I look forward to hearing from you!