On March 5-6, 2020, CSEAS’ NRC funding supported the U-M/UPR Pedogagical Workshop (previously the U-M/UPR Outreach Collaboration Symposium) for K-16 in-service and pre-service educators at the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico, the only public institution of higher education on the island and a minority-serving-institution. This year’s theme, “Integrating the Concept of Vulnerability into the Classroom,” saw some 14 cross-disciplinary presentations from scholars at U-M and UPR, as well as a series of interactive pedagogical workshops and curriculum design studios led by Darin Stockdill of the Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research at U-M’s School of Education. One of these panels— “Vulnerability and World History”—featured Puerto Rican teachers who had participated in the NRC-funded U-M World History and Literature Initiative in December 2019.
Our center funded the talk of U-M area specialist Jennifer Rollison, titled “The Secret Legacy of War: Integration, Acceptance, and Belonging. Challenges for First and Second Generation Southeast Asian-American Immigrants.” CSEAS also contributed significant funding to the travel of U-M Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian Edras Rodriguez-Torres, who offered resources and suggestions to teachers and graduate students throughout the symposium as they tuned curriculum modules and brainstormed new ideas. Rodriguez-Torres’ expertise in digital and open-access primary and secondary source materials served the workshop participants in real-time and helped maintain the workshop’s momentum.
This workshop built on previous iterations to expand its interactive and collaborative components, increasing our relevance and reach among Puerto Rican K-16 educators. We were delighted by the results. Though it is extremely difficult for Puerto Rican teachers to take off two consecutive school days to attend this workshop in full, we counted the highest attendance of K-12 teachers in the history of this collaboration. The in-person audience boasted more than 40 educators, scholars, students, and educational administrators, not counting live-stream attendees. One attendee wrote, “The participation of local teachers discussing current challenges and ideas was perfect.” Sheykirisabel Cucuta Gonzalez, Director of the Social Studies Program in the Puerto Rican Department of Education, expressed to our staff her deep support for this event and its restructured mission. Gonzalez is looking forward to future collaborations with even more Puerto Rican educators. CSEAS also saw increased interest in Southeast Asian education too with some 92% of interviewed attendees expressing a high likelihood of incorporating Southeast Asian content into their future teaching. About 71% reported a strong likelihood of using the curriculum toolkits specifically designed in this workshop. 86% of those interviewed made new professional contacts.
In summation, the symposium was hugely successful, and we look forward to strengthening the ties between U-M and UPR, and the larger community of Puerto Rican educators.