Building community on campus and in the community

Lucena Valle reflects on her experience as the Humanities Out There Teaching Fellow

Lucena Valle is a PhD candidate in the Program in Visual Studies.  She is in her second year as the Humanities Out There Teaching Fellow, serving as instructor and mentor for undergraduate students interning in the Bowers Museum after-school program.

What has been most rewarding about working with UCI undergraduates?
Working with UCI undergraduates has given me an opportunity to see the great dedication and enthusiasm our interns bring to the work they do at the Kidseum. Each quarter with HOT has been so rewarding to see our undergraduate interns grow in confidence and gain new skills through this internship.  Interns like anthropology major Andy Fuenzalida Gonzalez, whose experience participating in archeological digs earned him a part-time position teaching archeology workshops at the Kidseum. Since graduating from UCI last spring, Andy is now preparing to apply to graduate school in the fall, and after his work at the Kidseum he hopes to pursue a career in teaching.

What has been most rewarding about working with the Bowers Museum’s Kidseum after-school program?
One of the most rewarding aspects of working with the Kidseum’s after-school program has been the opportunity to make a tangible positive impact on the academic performance of under-served immigrant children who participate this program. Since partnering with the Kidseum, the tutoring provided by our UCI interns has helped dramatically raise the student’s math and language arts scores by nearly 90%.

What have you learned about pedagogy as the HOT Teaching Fellow?
Going into this program, I was especially interested in developing course curriculum that could draw connections between pedagogic theory and practice to explore teaching through the lens of inquiry. For example, last quarter HOT interns completed a community inquiry project creating a case study examining one of the schools served by the Kidseum’s afterschool program. Their research initiative, which set out to evaluate the ongoing gentrification in downtown Santa Ana, mapped local educational resources near the Kidseum, and analyzed OC educational policy to make our work at the Kidseum more well-informed and responsive to our learners.

What have you learned about university-community engagement as the HOT Teaching Fellow?
During my two-year tenure here, our program’s developing collaboration of community-focused service learning has made great strides facilitating undergraduate interns gain real-world applications for their humanities coursework. Similarly, my experiences as a HOT teaching fellow have made me a committed stakeholder in reimagining a humanistic education that places professionalization and community engagement on equal footing with research and theory.

How has this experience contributed to your professional development as a scholar?
Serving as HOT graduate teaching fellow has provided me with an array of valuable experience, from implementing new approaches to curriculum development, assessment, community outreach, to investing in mentorship that I am confident will translate to impactful career paths inside and outside of academia. Participating in this fellowship has given me the opportunity to explore career synergies of community service practice and scholarship.