LETTER: Professor used column in class

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By Sara Harris

After reading Mr. Jose J. Marquez’ letter to the editor on Monday, June 15, I would like to share the following letter I wrote Mr. David Giuliani to his e-mail address on June 8 on the same topic.

“Dear David,

“My name is Sara Harris. I know we have met, though I don’t expect you to remember me. I retired from teaching Spanish at Highlands in 2002 and have had the privilege of being able to teach there in different capacities in the Spanish, Education and Social Work Departments.

 “Two other colleagues and I were to take a group of students to Oaxaca, Mexico in June, as in years past, but, due to the flu situation there, our trip was, unfortunately, cancelled.

“At any rate, I was given the opportunity to teach one of the classes, Civilización y Cultura: México/Oaxaca, which would have been offered in Oaxaca, on the NMHU campus … something I am currently doing. It is an intensive class — a three-semester-credit course in six days — and we are in the second part of the class and will finish on Wednesday. Throughout the time shared with my students so far, I have tried to acquaint them with Mexico, its pre-Hispanic culture and have tried to present Mexico as I know it, both with its qualities and failings.

“Your column came at a perfect time, and I will be using it tomorrow in class with my students. I agree absolutely with your comments. Perhaps it is because I am Mexican-American, a term that took me a personal trajectory to recognize. You are right, “What’s so wrong with Mexicans?” as you posed the question in your (column).

“I am not a merchant in our town and don’t comprehend all the financial complications that film productions cause. I just know that tomorrow in class I will try to make my students understand that being Mexican and carrying “mestizo blood” is all right. Though I only have five students in the class, I am certain that your message will touch them.”

... And as a follow-up to the column written by Mr. Giuliani and my letter to him, the topics of discrimination, racism and the search for self-identity surfaced that following day, June 9, in class. A local teacher shared his/her ideas on the teacher’s responsibility in validating a child’s self-identity and self-worth, thus resulting in the individual’s self-respect and self-esteem.

Sara Harris

Las Vegas