COSECHA VOICES: Documenting the Voice of the Migrant Student


The University of Texas-Pan American’s the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) launched a special project designed by Tato Laviera, Dr. Stephanie Alvarez, and Jose Luis Martinez; “Cosecha Voices—Documenting the Voice of the Migrant” in Fall 2007.  Cosecha Voices is a collaborative project in which migrant students who currently participate in the CAMP program, as well as CAMP alumni, and any students classified as migrant take a Spanish class that is designed to explore and document the migrant experience while at the same time strengthening the students’ Spanish writing skills.  In this class, Students partake in regular class activities, an oral history workshop given by the Department of History, and 7 bi-weekly intensive writing workshops led by American Book Award winner and Best-Selling Latino Poet in the United States, Tato Laviera.  Based on the student’s knowledge, experience, and oral histories, Mr. Laviera instructs the students on how to turn that knowledge into an original creative piece.  These workshops use a humanistic approach to the complicated social experiences of migrants and allow migrant students to come to terms with the affirmation and celebration of their status as important contributors to U.S. society.  Their documentation and sharing of their experiences with the public, could potentially allow society itself to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the contributions migrant farmworkers make to the U.S. and the obstacles faced by migrant children.  Additionally, because this group is one of the most vulnerable in terms of dropping out of college, we believe that a class such as this one could potentially lead to a greater understanding of self, higher self-esteem, and motivation to end the migrant cycle by graduating from college.  Moreover, the outcome of the class would be to provide documentation of the migrant experiences of the Río Grande Valley of South Texas.  Currently a documentary on the project is in production under the direction of Silvia Solis and Jay Garcia. Additionally, Cosecha Voices provides workshops to Migrant Middle School Students of the Rio Grande Valley with the assistance of the Region One Educational Service Center Migrant Education Office.  Therefore, the primary goal of the class is to not only document the experiences of the migrant, but also share that experience with the public on a large scale through public presentations, archival of the documents, workshops, the creation of digital stories and possible publication of the students’ work.

*artist: María Lourdes Alvarez, Cosecha Voices Participant


Recently our project's founder, Tato Laviera, underwent brain surgery and was left without a home.  Please help Tato put a roof over his head.  Donate here

For more information on Tato's situation read the following
NY Times article.