The Changing Face of Mexico

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

National trends show that Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic minority in the United States. In North Carolina, our growing Latino population represents a mixture of ethnic, racial and cultural origins. However, the predominant Hispanic origin reported is from Mexico. Needless to say, this new population is making an impact on our state. The Latino community in general and the Mexicans in particular bring a wealth of qualities to our state. Their willingness to work, to cooperate and to integrate themselves into our culture fits into the North Carolina context. At every level, the citizens of this state need to know more about the countries of origin of this new immigrant population. We need to know more about their countries in order to better serve the Latino young people and their parents, and to help with their integration into their new communities.

From talking with teachers and administrators at every level, we were convinced that teachers and students needed additional educational resources on Mexico with written, visual and audio material. It is our sincere hope that the cultural themes we chose to include are of interest to all. Moreover, we hope we have provided a conceptual multicultural foundation for the integration of material on Mexico into North Carolina classrooms and that these materials will be useful to both North Americans and Mexicans.

It has been very gratifying for me to work with all the contributors. As always it was a great pleasure to collaborate with Ken Stewart and Chapel Hill High School on the video Being Bi-National and Adolescent. I want to thank particularly Bill Wisser, who worked very hard to make this project a success. Others who have given good advice and support along the way are: David Carlson, Claudio Fuentes, Jonathan Hartlyn, Natalie Hartman, Audrey L. Heining-Boynton, Lars Schoultz, and Kristin Wilson. Andy Brawn and Tom Cox deserve much of the credit for the final production of the original video. Lastly, I would like to thank the Center for Public Service of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for supporting my project and awarding me in 1998 one of their first Public Service Grants. We are indeed fortunate to work at a university which fosters and rewards outreach efforts for all who live in North Carolina.

Little documentary work on the growing Latino population in North Carolina has been done to date, although this will likely change. A recent documentary was Cruceros y Caminos (1996) undertaken by Shane Nye and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. This documentary depicts religious and community life among the Spanish-speaking inhabitants of Clifton North Carolina. The Outreach office of the Duke-UNC Program in Latin American Studies has a lending copy available of Cruceros and Caminos.

As a part of the Multi-media Resource Packet the experiences of the Latino student population in North Carolina are the subject of the original video Multiple Identities: Being Bi-National and Adolescent. Three Mexican-American students and one Colombian-American student share some of their encounters in adapting to high school and student life in North Carolina and North American teenage culture generally. Also topical to the Hispanic population here in North Carolina is footage of the Fiesta del Pueblo. It is our hope that this video will be of particular use to North Carolina educators, and that it will inspire dialogue and discussion among students. Perhaps students will want to create a video project of their own!

Sharon Sullivan Mújica
Institute of Latin American Studies
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill