Graduation Year

2017

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Media Studies

Reader 1

T. Kim-Trang Tran

Reader 2

Jonas Becker

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© 2016 Isabel Verhille

Abstract

As a student enrolled in the Claremont Colleges, there are a variety of different ways in which I can engage with the greater Inland Empire community. The community-based programs, classes, and projects offered by the Colleges all have specific focuses, whether they be community service, community studies, or language improvement. This Media Studies Senior Thesis focuses on two community programs offered by the Claremont Colleges, the first being the Spanish Practicum program offered at Pitzer College. This half credit course places a group of three students with a “Promotora” (Promoter) or a Mexican immigrant residing in the Ontario community. Once a week, students are expected to travel to their Promotora’s house, speak with her only in Spanish, eat meals with her, and explore her Ontario community. Secondly, I will include a section about Huerta del Valle, a community garden in Ontario, California, which was created by a teacher of the Spanish Practicum program and a Pitzer alumnus. Even though this garden functions completely separately from the Claremont Colleges, Pitzer students have the opportunity to enroll in the Ontario Program and complete a semester studying urban garden, social engagement, and community planning alongside Huerta del Valle volunteers and organizers. This Media Studies project completed in conjunction with the Spanish Practicum Program and the Huerta del Valle program is a photographic essay about my personal experience as a student of the Spanish Practicum program, an article recounting the history of the Spanish Practicum program from the perspective of its creator, and a transcribed interview and series of photographs of the founder of Huerta del Valle as well as a student participant/leader/alumnus of the Pitzer Ontario program. These collections of writing and photographs are presented in the form of a webpage with multiple sections that I have coded as to experiment with visual storytelling, color, and design techniques. Furthermore, through this project I explore the communal significance of personal narratives, and the work they do to construct and contribute to a shared understanding of a program, event, or experience. These personal narratives that I have collected as oral histories will serve to give the community-based programs offered at the Claremont Colleges a human face, illuminating the tendency of dominant histories to discredit their intimate back stories.

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