By Ariatna Vaglienty Gonzalez
My name is Ariatna Vaglienty Gonzalez and I am an undergraduate Political Science student at the University of Houston. My time with Arte Público Press begins in the Fall of 2020. I was in the process of completing a Mexican American Studies course with Dr. Lorena Gauthereau when she informed my classmates and I about an internship opportunity at Recovery. I knew little about Arte Público or Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery), other than what was briefed by Dr. Gauthereau, but of course, with some research, I grew interested in the program and chose to apply. Very quickly after my interview process with Dr. Linda García Merchant, who would later become my mentor, I met the rest of the team at Recovery, who all welcomed me with open arms.
For my first project, I worked closely with Dr. García Merchant to proof and revise a digital timeline dedicated to highlighting the history of the Latino civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) timeline. In 2019, my fellow UH undergraduate and previous recipient of the LULAC Council 60 Research and Scholarship Award, Katerin Zapata, began compiling research and creating the initial version of the timeline. We analyzed its contents and captions and took the steps necessary to ensure web accessibility, specifically to those with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities. An essential component of the timeline is its appeal to all the senses using diverse forms of technology. Users have access to a wide range of information through various types of videos, pictures and links. In addition to this, the timeline itself is easily operable to accommodate users with limited range of motion and different color combinations were explored to benefit users with visual impairments. Dr. García Merchant and I ensured the content was concise and also made available in Spanish to suit bilingual speakers. Previous to my time at Recovery, my experience in digital humanities was limited. However, this was hardly a concern because Dr. García Merchant did not hesitate to provide her guidance as needed. She ultimately laid the foundation for me to utilize various digital resources and, along the way, taught me techniques to give the reader an overall engaging learning experience.
I knew LULAC as an advocacy organization that was significant to members of the Latinx/Hispanic community, but unfortunately, this was the extent of my knowledge. I was aware of a few of the lawsuits that set critical legal precedents, such as Salvatierra v. Del Rio and Mendez v. Westminster, but only relative to other civil rights proceedings such as Brown v. Board of Education. As I worked on the timeline, I learned about the various councils located across Texas, including Council 60 in my hometown of Houston, Texas. I researched prominent figures like Tony Campos, Dolores Guerrero, Willie Velasquez, Belen Robles, and countless others who were pioneers in the advancement of the Latinx/Hispanic community in the United States. I hope that through this timeline and the many other projects at Recovery, individuals may have the opportunity to learn more about organizations like LULAC and hear about those stories in history not often told.
It is no doubt that the pandemic has had a considerable impact on many of our lives. In a few words, I can confidently say that this year was by far the most strenuous time of my life. I figured that my entry into the Recovery program during the pandemic would affect the quality of my experience. While I am sure that the circumstances were very different pre-COVID, I would not say that my experience was in any way worse or less than. If anything, I felt like Recovery was a positive outlet for me.
After my first meeting with everyone, I remember having an overwhelming feeling of joy. I will never forget how much it meant to be in the same virtual room as so many incredibly accomplished men and women. I was surrounded by professors and professionals at the top of their fields, and when they spoke, it reminded me of home. I saw a bit of myself in them, and for the first time, I witnessed the language of my mother and grandmother being used in an academic workplace. Ultimately, they are who I aspire to be, not only for myself but also for my community. As a woman, a Mexican immigrant, and a first-generation college student, it is motivating to see this representation in academia. Working alongside everyone at Recovery for these past couple of weeks has been truly inspiring and a valuable learning experience that I will always carry with me.
**Stay tuned for the public release of the LULAC Timeline**
“English Plus Versus English Only.” League of United Latin American Citizens, https://lulac.org/advocacy/issues/english_vs_spansih/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.
Olivas, Michael A. Colored Men and Hombres Aquí: Hernández V. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican-American Lawyering. Arte Público Press, 2006.
Orozco, Cynthia. Pioneer of Mexican-American Civil Rights: Alonso S. Perales. Arte Público Press, 2020.
Sánchez, Claudio. “Tougher Times For Latino Students? History Says They’ve Never Had It Easy.” National Public Radio, 15 Nov. 2016, https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/11/15/502011688/tougher-times-for-latino-students-history-says-theyve-never-had-it-easy. Accessed 08 Nov. 2020.
Ariatna Vaglienty Gonzalez is an undergraduate at the University of Houston, where she is majoring in Political Science. She is the current recipient of the LULAC Council 60 Research and Scholarship Award.