Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mi Educación es la Causa is NACCS Conference Theme

I found information about this conference at RGV Life:

South Texas College plays host to the NACCS Tejas Regional Conference from Thursday, Feb. 28 through Saturday, Mar. 1, 2008 and has recruited prolific and important Mexican-American scholars and authors from across the nation to participate.

In the article, South Texas College history instructor and conference coordinator Victor Gomez says:

“We are so pleased with the response to this event and the willingness of top scholars in this field to come out and, in some cases, back home to the Valley to share their perspectives with our community. This will be an invaluable opportunity for not only local educators and students, but also the community as a whole.”

The story continues:

Participants include professors and authors from New York University, Notre Dame, Rice University, The University of Colorado at Denver, The University of California at Santa Cruz, California State, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University to name a few. Faculty and students from South Texas College, The University of Texas at Brownsville and The University of Texas-Pan American will also participate.

....The two keynote speakers will speak at the McAllen Convention Center. Rodolfo F. Acuña, the author of Occupied America: The History of Chicanos, and Martha P. Cotera, the author of Diosa y Hembra: The History and Heritage of Chicanas in the U.S., will discuss their experiences in studying, teaching and writing about the Mexican-American experience. They will share their perspectives on the opportunities for Mexican-Americans in the 21st century and how education has and will continue to be a foundation for the exploration of Mexican-American culture.

Following the keynote addresses, the community is invited to an evening of cultural activities including an author meet and greet with more than 25 Mexican-American scholars signing their books. Participating scholars include: Rodolfo Acuña, Martha Cotera, José Angel Gutiérrez, Guadalupe San Miguel Jr., Norma Cantú, Armando Alonzo, Josephine Méndez-Negrete, among other very important scholars.

This sounds like a prestigious conference. Reading the announcement made me reflect on the common perceptions which many hold about the RGV. Many times since I have been researching the idea of opening a bookstore on South Padre Island I have been warned about the reading habits of the valley population.

I can't even put a number on how many times I have been told - "the valley residents don't read" or "the culture in the valley doesn't value reading" and "the Mexican nationals who visit the island won't be interested in a bookstore". Yet, here we have a conference being held in Harlingen, attended by world class scholars and 25 Mexican-American authors will be signing books.

There seems to be a contradiction here. Does the general public do the valley community an injustice with these kind of over-generalizations? I'm sure I don't know - just a thought.

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