During winter term 2016, two OSU student activists Mai Xee Yang and Nicthé Verdugo worked with Charlene Martinez, Associate Director of Integrated Learning for Social Change within Diversity & Cultural Engagement, on a project entitled Voices Without Borders for their Arts and Social Justice Practicum course. The project began when Yang and Verdugo began sharing both their passion for art as well as their connections to their families’ immigration stories. Yang’s family is Hmong and Verdugo’s is Latinx and while their family stories are unique, they found they had many similarities. And so, they decided to embark on an arts/oral history project to gather together students of both communities to share stories about immigration, assimilation, journeys, and aspirations in connection to themselves as individuals or with their parents.
The stories are showcased in the format of a virtual diary and blog. The diary medium was specifically chosen since it enables individuals to share their experiences in a more personal and meaningful way. The goal of a virtual diary is to provide broad access to the stories so that there can be connections made between many more story circles that will help connect groups with each other or even re-connect members within a group.
The OMA was honored to be asked to record the student dialogues and make the conversation available online:
OH 18 OMA Oral History Collection
Stories of OSU Hmong and Latinx Students
Arts and Social Justice Practicum Winter 2016
“Voices without Borders” Parts 1 and 2
Date: February 23, 2016
Location: Oregon State University Native American Longhouse Eena Haws
Length: 00:32:02 (of 00:42:44 total)
Interviewees: Alejandra Mendoza, Lorena Ambriz, Guadalupe Garcia, Warren Wang, Gina Chang, and Nitché Verdugo
Interviewer: Nitché Verdugo
Date: March 4, 2016
Location: Oregon State University
Length: 00:10:42 (00:32:03 – 00:42:44)
Interviewees: Mai Xee Yang and Natalia Fernández
Interviewer: Mai Xee Yang
Alejandra Mendoza was born in Fresno, CA and raised in Boardman, OR, and is majoring in Mathematics; Lorena Ambriz was born in Mexico, raised in Eastern Oregon, and is majoring in Sociology; Guadalupe “Lupe” Garcia is from Salem, OR, and is majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences; Warren Wang is from Portland, OR, and is majoring in Biochemistry/Biophysics; Gina Chang is from Portland, OR, and is majoring in Psychology; Nitché Verdugo is from Southern California and Mexico and is majoring in Ethnic Studies with a focus on Chicanx/Latinx Studies; Mai Xee Yang is from Portland, OR, and is earning a Bachelors in Fine Arts. Natalia Fernández is from Tucson, AZ, and is an archivist. Mendoza, Ambriz, Garcia, Verdugo, and Yang are members of M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán). Wang and Chang are members of the OSU Hmong Club.
Part 1 of the interview begins with project participant introductions and with Verdugo explaining the interview purpose and structure. The purpose is to bring together the Hmong and Latino/Chicano communities to speak about the stories behind their families coming to the United States. The interview structure is for each person to have four minutes to share their story, followed by an opportunity for artistic expression, and closing with a reconvening to reflect on the stories shared and artwork created. The participants Alejandra Mendoza, Lorena Ambriz, Guadalupe Garcia, Warren Wang, Gina Chang, and Nitché Verdugo then share their parents’ immigration stories, their connections to their race/ethnicity, and reflections upon their own identities. In Part 2 Mai Xee Yang and Natalia Fernández share their family immigration stories and how they have shaped their lives.