Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Juarez Students Create Documentaries of Civic Action

At Benito Juarez Community Academy, students are documentarians.

Mr Ehler's sophomore Reading and Language Arts class partnered with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to record the occupation of Whittier Elementary School by local mothers. Students investigated the issues of the struggle with the AFSC and learned interview and videography techniques. They then took their new skills to La Casita, a community organization, where the high school students talked to Whittier students, teachers, and the activists themselves including mothers who fought for a library in their children's school.

The parents of Whittier students were shocked to hear that their field house was declared to be unsafe and was marked to be demolished for a soccer field. Whittier didn't have a library and mothers thought that should take priority. So they occupied the field house for more than 40 days, sometimes with scarce food and water, to fight for a library in their school. Groups of mothers have accomplished great things in the Latino community; it was mothers on a hunger strike that got Little Village High School built.

Mr Ehler saw the Whittier struggle as a great way to teach his students the importance of social movements while teaching them important skills. With the help of the American Friends Service Committee, he was able to teach his young people to ask interview questions that were unbiased and focused. His students also learned the strength in having a voice in your community and what we can do when we work together.

Watch a Juarez student's interview of a Whittier student here:

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