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.

In the recent past, North Carolina has experienced unprecedented growth of non-native English-speaking individuals. This increase is tied directly to the rapid economic growth in numerous small and large industries such as the poultry, pork, garment, furniture, and technology industries. The fastest growing sector of North Carolina’s non-native English-speaking population is Hispanic, and predominately Mexican.

According to statistics published by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in March 1998, the Hispanic student population has increased 285.6 percent in the last seven years. With this growth comes the need to educate teachers, administrators, and the community at large. What is also necessary are ways and means to facilitate the induction of these students into the school population and the school culture.

Hence, the purpose of this project is to disseminate information on Mexico, its culture, and its young people to help the Hispanic students experience a smooth integration into the public school system of North Carolina. This project also intends to assist with building cross-cultural awareness among the students, teachers, and administrators of the school, as well as with the members of the surrounding communities. This dissemination of information is in the form of a newly created presentation The Many Faces of Mexico, the incorporation of an existing slide presentation entitled Mexico: From Tenochtitlan to Taco Bell, four units for teachers based on Mexican cultural celebrations, and an original video created by four local Mexican students and two Mexican educators who teach in North Carolina. This five-part resource packet will be introduced and made available throughout the state.

The outcomes and end products of this project were created by individuals with a long pedigree that demonstrates a knowledge of technical and presentational/instructional issues as well as those pertaining to the Hispanic culture. Also incorporated were an understanding and sensitivity to the necessary pedagogy as mandated by the National Foreign Language Standards and the ESL Standards for Pre-K-12 Students. Finally, the original video Multiple Identities: Being Bi-National and Adolescent is important since it acknowledges the issues of one of the largest populations of students at risk of failing in our schools, that being Mexican adolescents living in the United States. The topic is profound, compelling, and worthy of the exploration.