Student Testimonios & Digital Stories
Students in an advanced Spanish composition course write approximately 12 testimonios throughout the semester based on their experiences growing-up in a migrant farmworker family. Each testimonio focuses on a different theme, and at the end of the semester they produce a final testimonio which is to be presented publicly to their families, university, and surrounding communities. Inspired by the work of the Llano Grande Center for Research and Development , coordinators received training at the center through a UTPA Faculty Development Grant in order to incorporate digital storytelling into the project. Digital storytelling as defined by Llano Grande is "a self-generated, short-length digital production that tells a story of personal or community relevance by combining visual and audio elements, such as video, photographs, documents, music and narration." This component allows students to, what for many is the first time, speak to their family about their migrant experiences while at the same time recover images related to their migrant experience, and record their history in a visual format that is accessible to millions via the web.
The purpose of the testimonio and digital story is to help the student gain a better understanding of themselves and their community within a larger societal context, while at the same time improving both their written and oral spanish language skills. We use the terms testimonio and digital story in order to reflect the goal of effecting social change. In this case, the social change is two-fold. First, by raising awareness about the experiences of migrant farmworking youth it is hoped that more people will take a stand against the injustices faced by this group. Secondly, we are keenly aware that migrant farmworking youth are some of the most vulnerable in terms of leaving school. It is our hope that through this course we create an environment of potential self-empowerment that will lead to higher rates of retention and graduation -- an environment in which students realize the many important contributions they have made in our society at such a young age and that growing up as a migrant has given them invaluable tools to help them succeed in school and life.