Delegation completes Oxacan cultural training

Publish Date: 
Aug 24, 2018

Nine Hartnell employees and one student last month attended a cross-cultural training in Soledad to learn about the way of life and needs of indigenous migrants from the Mexican state of Oaxaca who have settled in the Salinas Valley.


Held Aug. 24 at Our Lady of Solitude Catholic Church, the “indigenous knowledge” training was provided by Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities) and was sponsored and organized by the Salinas Valley Adult Education Consortium (SVAEC) at Hartnell College. The aim was improving services to what has become one of the largest communities of Oaxaqueños in California, especially in Greenfield, most of whom speak the indigenous languages of Trique and Mixteco.  


The event drew more than 50 educators and other professionals from 26 different agencies, including teachers, counselors, social service providers and law enforcement. Kristen Arps, SVAEC director, encouraged participants to apply their new knowledge in their daily lives. “We usually think of increasing equity at a systemic level,” she said, “but let’s also use what we learn today to build equity on a personal level, every day, every moment, as professionals and as community members.”


Attendees increased their awareness and understanding of Oaxacan culture, languages, indigenous heritage, family structures and values. They also learned about the factors leading to Oaxacan emigration and migration patterns and the socioeconomic conditions of Oaxacan migrants in rural California. These migrants face significant barriers to education, health care and other social services and face many challenges during the assimilation process, particularly those who speak neither English nor Spanish.


In addition to Arps, those attending from Hartnell were Alicia Gregory, also from the SVAEC; Ana Gonzalez, continuing education; Mostafa Ghous and Ernesto Rodriguez from the King City Education Center; Dr. Nereida Oliva, Mi CASA staff/Ethnic Studies faculty; Jesus Villicana, ESL faculty; Bronwyn Moreno and Yuliana Vasquez from MiCASA; and Estefania Escalante, student ambassador.


Bronwyn Moreno, diirector of Student Affairs, Special Programs, noted that “many of our students speak indigenous languages as well as Spanish and English and are leaders within their families. We are privileged at Hartnell to have the opportunity to serve students and families who bring these unique talents and strengths to our institution.”


This fall our college will launch the Hartnell Catalyst Project for undocumented students and families. The Oaxacan cross-cultural training was an excellent first start in building our capacity to serve the indigenous community in a meaningful and respectful way.