Step foot on campus before Oct. 15 and you’re bound to see at least one big burlap coffee bean bag. The bags, spread all over Estrella Mountain Community College, are part of a project by Dr. Olga Tsoudis’ Sociology 101 classes. Each bag is decorated differently and has information about a Hispanic organization. Enter Estrella Hall from the south and you’ll find out about Chicanos Por La Causa. Enter from the north and you’ll learn about United We Dream. Take a moment before heading up the stairs to the second floor of Montezuma Hall and you’ll be educated on the Cesar Chavez Foundation. Take a break under the tree outside the Student Union and you’ll hit a trifecta: United We Dream, Puente AZ, and Chicanos Por La Causa.
“The purpose of the project was to take a writing reflection from class and turn it into art to be shared with the campus for Hispanic Heritage Month,” Dr. Tsoudis said.
The inaugural display was born out of a writing assignment Dr. Tsoudis usually tasks her students with during the module on groups, networks, and organizations.
“But instead of giving the students a list of diverse organizations representing social groups, I had them focus on Hispanic organizations,” she said.
Everything about the displays is significant. The burlap bag symbolizes the labor movement. It reminds us of the rights farm laborers all over the world are entitled to. The flowers and papel picado, or pierced papers, represent Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, a timespan that includes Chile’s, Costa Rica’s, El Salvador’s, Guatemala’s, Honduras’, Mexico’s, and Nicaragua’s independence days, as well as Columbus Day, or Dia de la Raza.
Dr. Tsoudis hopes people will take the time to read about various Hispanic organizations as they make their way across campus and then explore them more in-depth online.
“There are incredible Hispanic organizations out there supporting social issues,” she said. “Find an organization in your own social group that may be able to support you and get involved with an organization that aligns with your own values.”