Instructor: Marcy Fink Campos, Ed. S.                                                American University The Latino Community of the D.C. Metropolitan Area     Spring 2014      American Studies 340.001 CB  

Course Overview and Methodology

This course explores the Latino community of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, its history and origins, as well as current challenges and contributions. The DC/MD/VA (DMV) region is estimated to house about 805,000 Latinos, and over 250,000 are of Salvadoran origin. According to the 2010 census, 9.1 % of Washington, D.C.’s population is Latino. This is the second largest concentration of Salvadorans in the entire country, following Los Angeles. Community-based organizations and the neighborhoods where they are based are an invaluable resource and provide an opportunity for hands-on learning about concerns at the forefront of local Latino life. Fundamental to this course is the theory and practice of “community-based learning,” commonly known as “service-learning.” Each student will spend out-of-class time collaborating with a D.C. area nonprofit organization or school that is addressing Latino concerns. This experience, plus research on a specific issue, will provide the basis for your final paper. Students are encouraged to work in groups and can select from issues including but not limited to: immigration and legal rights; affordable housing and tenant organizing; economic development; education and youth development; health; and employment. While the course has a local emphasis, it will always analyze issues in a broader national and international framework. Students are expected to engage actively both outside and inside of class, thinking critically about the issues at hand, following the news, and expressing diverse views of the issues. Teaching and learning methods include: readings about historical and contemporary issues; film viewings; historical fiction; community visits/walking tours; guest speakers; campus & community forums and events; research; and in-class participatory activities using a method called “educación popular.” Sources of information go beyond our reading to include organizations like the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project (, National Council of La Raza (; the White House website (, and the DC Government’s Office on Latino Affairs (OLA)(; Spanish-language newspapers (eg. El Tiempo Latino, Washington Hispanic) and television stations (Univisión & Telemundo); cultural events and venues (e.g. GALA Theatre, Hola Cultura); and diverse perspectives (left, liberal, conservative, and ultra-conservative) on current issues like immigration (websites will be made available). You can also participate in the Community Service-Learning Program (CSLP)in which you add one (1) pass/fail credit to this class while carrying out a total of 40 hours of service with the same group you use for your project. This requires an online application (through “EngageNet”) with the Center for Community Engagement & Service Center (MGC 273).

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Situate the presence of Central America immigrants in the DC area in relation to US foreign policy and geopolitical issues of the late 1970s/early ‘80s, and more recently, poverty, inequity, and violence in Central America.
  • Name the “push” and “pull” factors that contributed towards the migration of AU’s Latin American workers to this area.
  • Identify factors that contribute to the transnational identity of area Latinos.
  • Develop an expertise around one issue impacting the Latino community, the strategies being utilized to resolve it, and the major role that community-based organizations and churches play in addressing concerns through direct service, advocacy, and organizing.
  • Describe the philosophy, aims, and impact of community-based learning, and how it promotes reciprocity between university students and nonprofit groups.
  • Become conversant in diverse perspectives of the national immigration debate, and initiatives such as Deferred Action (DACA), the DREAM Act, and “comprehensive immigration reform.”

  Course Requirements & Assignments All students are expected to complete the assigned readings before coming to class, take notes, be prepared to participate in discussion of the material, and to lead discussions. Grades will be based upon:

  1. Participation in class entails many factors, including: being an engaged listener and participation in class, being prepared (vis-à-vis readings, speakers, etc), co-leading a discussion with a classmate, working well in teams, online (Blackboard) reflections and reactions, going to public events, and sharing outside resources with peers. This aspect of class is key. 20%
  1. Four short essays or reaction papers (2-3 double-spaced pages each) on given topics that draw from the session’s readings, novels, interviews, and/or community events. Papers much be handed in on time or will lose points for each day late (unless medical situations or emergencies require a delay.   10 points each x 4 papers = 40%
  1. Short Open Notes Midterm Exam:         10 %
  1. Final Project drawn from research and community-based learning that includes a written paper and an engaging class presentation using a visual (preferably a poster, PREZI, or PowerPoint) on the issue you select. Group projects are encouraged among students with similar interest areas or at the same site. A short form in which you identify your “issue” and organization is due January 28th.
  • Research Paper with bibliography 20% (10-20 pages, depending on size of group).
  • Presentation to class:                         10% (About 10 minutes with visuals)

Total:             30%   Total is 100 points/100% Opportunities for “extra credit” may exist too. Grades will be posted on Blackboard.   Student performance in this course will be guided by the following point system:  

93-100                A 77– 79   C+
90-92               A- 73-76     C
87-89               B+ 70-72     C-
83-86               B 60-69     D
80-82               B- 59 and under F

  Resources on Campus Academic Support & Access Center : offers study skills workshops, individual instruction, tutor referrals, and services for students with learning disabilities. Writing support is also available. If you quality for accommodations due to a disability, please notify me in a timely manner with a letter from the ASAC so that we can make arrangements to address your needs. website: Counseling Center : offers counseling and consultations regarding personal concerns, self-help information, and connections to off-campus mental health resources; International Student and Scholar Services: Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI): Center for Community Engagement & Service:   Technology All students are expected to have an email account and to check it regularly; it is the best means for me to contact you and the class as a whole (I write lots of group reminder emails via Blackboard). You may use computers in the course for note-taking only or sharing online resources. Use of other applications (Facebook, email, internet browsing, etc.) is not acceptable. Individuals violating this policy will be prohibited from using their computer in class for the remainder of the semester. Cell phones should be turned off before the start of class and should remain off throughout the entire class meeting. Students observed in violation of this policy will lose participation credit.

Attendance Since we only meet once a week, regular and punctual attendance each week is critical. If illness or personal concerns make it difficult to attend a class, please inform me in advance by email or phone. You are responsible for making up work missed by checking in with classmates and the instructor.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to abide by American University’s Academic Integrity Code. Plagiarism and dishonesty will not be tolerated. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism or dishonesty or you are unclear about any other rights and responsibilities in the Academic Integrity Code see:  

Course Texts & Most of the course readings will be in PDF form and available online on Blackboard’s E-reserves or under Course Documents. I strongly encourage you to print them out, take notes, and have them on hand during our discussions. In addition, I will likely email or give out additional readings as the issues we are studying are very current and things change daily. I will revise readings, assignments, and deadlines as needed to support the learning objectives of this class. Please share anything you come across (newspaper articles, readings, cultural events, forums….) with your classmates.  

Texts (available to purchase or rent in bookstore in the American Studies section):

  1. Learning through Serving: A Student Guidebook for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement across Academic Disciplines and Cultural Communities, 2nd edition 2013, Cress, Collier, Reitenauer, and Associates, Stylus Publishing.


  1. One Novel of Historic Fiction: Each person will read one of two novels of the region that reflect the transnational nature of the issues we are studying (available at AU bookstore used or new):
  • Odyssey to the North, Mario Bencastro (El Salvador & Washington, DC)
  • The Tattooed Soldier, Hector Tobar (Guatemala & Los Angeles)


  1. Context Matters: Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement in Nine U.S. Cities, Series on Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement, Xóchitl Bada, Jonathan Fox, Robert Donnelly, Andrew Selee, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2010.   (Free copies will be given out during class)

Course Outline

  Week 1: January 14 - Overview and Introduction to the Course Review syllabus, books, structure of class and assignments; discuss key terminology and issues; and meet other students. Discuss the what and why of “community-based learning” and CSLP. Note: Make every effort to see the AU showing of film Monseñor: The Last Journey of Óscar Romero. Date/time: Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm. Location: Abramson Family Founders Room at SIS. Go here to rsvp: will discuss on 1/28.   Week 2: January 21 - Latino Identity in U.S. & Historical Roots in D.C. Readings: Lozada, Carlos, “Who is Latino?” Washington Post, June 23. 2013, page 1. Lopez, Mark Hugo, Gonzalez-Barrera, Ana, “Diverse Origins: The Nation’s 14 Largest Hispanic-Origin Groups,” Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, June 19, 2013. Cadaval, Olivia, "The Latino Community Creating an Identity in the Nation's Capital." Washington Odyssey: A Multicultural History of the Nation's Capital, Ed. Francine Curro Cary. Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Books, 1996, pp. 231 - 249.   Cress, Christine, et al, “Introduction: Why a Book about Service-Learning,” pp. 1-4, & Chapter 1: “What is Service-Learning?” pp. 7-15 in Learning through Serving: A Student Guidebook for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Across Academic Disciplines and Cultural Communities. Deadline to register for CSLP (optional): Tuesday, January 28 Week 3: January 28 - How Geo-Political Issues Fueled Immigration North Discuss The Last Journey of Oscar Romero; Watch Harvest of Empire (EVS Productions) in class. Readings: Gonzalez, Juan. “Central Americans: Intervention Comes Home to Roost.” Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, Penguin, 2011, pages 129 - 149. In advance of today’s class, preview one film. Innocent Voices, DVD 4633 (Library Media Center)or Granito: How to Nail a Dictator are top choices but others can be proposed. Due:

  • Final Project Form (It identifies your research topic, & site for community-based learning).
  • Set up meeting time with professor in groups or individually.
  • Short essay #1 (extended)

  Week 4:   February 4 - Community History & Growth of the Latino Nonprofit Sector Watch documentary film Through Our Eyes: 30 Years of Latino History, 2006, Maya Productions Readings: Cantor, Guillermo, and Da Vita, Carol, “Civil Society Structures Serving Latinos in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area,” Urban Institute, 2008. 8 pages. Constable, Pamela, “Saul Solorzano touched thousands of lives in D.C.’s Central American Community,” Washington Post, September 3, 2011. Constable, Pamela, “D.C. Latino center’s leader hits the streets on immigration, seeks financial cushion for group.” Washington Post, October 10, 2013. Cress, Chapter 2” “Building and Maintaining Community Relationships,” pp. 17-28 and Chapter 3: “Becoming a Community,” pp. 33-42.   Week 5:   February 11 - Key Issues/Factors in Analyzing Latino Communities Across Cities Guest speaker: Jonathan Fox, Faculty, SIS. Readings: Preface, pages 5-7, and Chapter 1: “Understanding Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement,” pages 7-12 in Context Matters: Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement in Nine Cities. Brick, Kate, Introduction,   pp. 2-4, and Singer, Audrey, Chapter 1: "Latin American Immigrants in the Washington Metropolitan Area: History and Demography, pp. 5-18, in Local Goes National: Challenges and Opportunities for Latino Immigrants in the Nation’s Capitol.   Week 6: February 18 - Discuss Historical Fiction Novels & Prepare for Community Visit Watch two videos in class: Muralimso DC (produced by Hola Cultura). and Journey (Efrain Ramirez) Guest speaker: Luis Peralta, muralist. Readings: Rodriguez, Ana Patricia, Chapter 6: “Departamento 15: Salvadoran Transnational Migration and Narration,” from Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures, pp. 167-194. Due:

  • Short Paper #2: Two-three page book analysis based on novel: Odyssey to the North by Mario Bencastro or The Tattooed Soldier by Hector Tobar.

  Week 7: February 2 - Mt Pleasant Walking Tour & Dinner (Haydee’s Restaurant) Transportation via vans from University (Meet in front of Bender Library at 5:15 pm; we will be back by 8 pm). Guests at dinner: Karlísima Rodas and Lilo Gonzalez. Readings: Sheridan, Mary Beth, “15 Years After Violent Clashes, Fragile Accord Being Redrawn, Washington Post, May 7, 2006. Dvorak and Klein, “D.C. Blaze Displaces Nearly 200: Northwest Apartment Building Had History of Code Violations,” Washington Post, March 14, 2008. Schwartzman, Paul, “4 Years After D.C. Fire, Ex-tenants and Mount Pleasant Area Face Frustration,” Washington Post, January 26, 2012.   Find at   Week 8: March 4 - Latino Youth, Schools and Agencies: Strategies for Change Guest speaker:   Luis Cardona, Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. Readings: DeParle, Jason, “Struggling to Rise in Suburbs Where Failing Means Fitting in,” New York Times, April 19, 2009. Noguera, Pedro, “Latino Youth: Immigration, Education and the Future,” InMotion Magazine, 2006. Chapter 7 of Context Matters, “Immigrant Youth as Emerging Actors,” pp 38-47. Sara Satinsky, Alice Hu, Jonathan Heller, Lili Farhang, “How Family-Focused Immigration Reform Will Mean Better Health for Children & Families,” Read: Forward, Exec Summary, & Introduction: Events of Interest: Panel discussion: The Republicans' Latino Problem and How it Can be Fixed, March 7, 2014, 9 am - 3 pm. SIS Abramson Family Founders Room. CLALS website. And 2014 NCLR National Latino Advocacy Days, March 5–6, Washington, DC:                 To volunteer:   SPRING BREAK: NO CLASS MARCH 11   Week 9: March 18 - Labor/Employment & Union Issues Watch film Aquí Estamos (produced by AU alum Charlene Shovic); Discuss worker interview results. Readings: Dazio, Stefanie, “Profile: Aramark Employee Shares How She Came to AU,” The Eagle, Oct. 11, 2010. Kazin, Michael, “Labor Needs More Than Labor: How a workers’ movement at Georgetown University provides a template for the future of American labor,” The New Republic, April 1, 2011. Find at Buckley, Cara, “Domestic Workers Organize to End an ‘Atmosphere of Violence’ on the Job,” New York Times, June 9, 2008. “Bill Ensuring Rights for Domestic Workers Approved 9-0 by Montgomery Council,” found at Moreno, Sylvia, “Holding Their Ground,” Washington Post, December 9, 2007. Due:

  • Short Paper #3:   Group interview of Aramark employee of Central American origin.

  Week 10: March 25 - Violence, Drugs, and Poverty as “Push” Factors” Midterm today. Readings: Ramirez, Rosa, “More Central American Kids Crossing Solo,” The National Journal, Dec 7, 2012. Rotella, Sebastian, "The New Border: Illegal Immigration’s Shifting Frontier," December 5, 2012, ProPublica.   Week 11: April 1 - Latino Leadership in Local and National Politics Readings: Lopez, Mark Hugo, “Three-Fourths of Hispanics Say Their Community Needs a Leader: Most Latinos Cannot Name One,” Pew Hispanic Trends Center, October 22, 2013. Luis Gutierrez articles, October 2013 issue of Eventos VIP Pass, pages 6-9. Shear, Michael, “Obama’s Defender of Borders Is Again a Voice for Migrants,” NY Times, May 3, 2013. Chapter 9 of Context Matters: “From Civic to Political Participation,” pages 48-52, and Chapter 10 pages 64-69 only (section on DC area). Cress, Chapter 5: “Creating Cultural Connections,” pp. 67-78, Chapter 6: “Reflection in Action,” pp. 83-95, Chapter 7: “Failure with the Best of Intentions,” pp. 99-110.   Week 12: April 8 - The National Climate for Immigration Reform Film: Lost in Detention, PBS, 2011 (one hour) or Latino Americans: Episode 6, PBS special. Readings: Note: Expect more readings as the news on immigration evolves, but for now: Gonzalez, Juan. Chapter 11: “Immigrants Old and New: Closing Borders of the Mind,” Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, Penguin, 2011, pp. 190-205. Preston, Julia, “Amid Steady Deportation, Fear and Worry Multiply Among Immigrants,” New York Times, December 23, 2013. It’s online here: Vaughn, Jessica, “Where are all the deportations?,” December 2013, Listen to Interview on immigration policy on National Public Radio (NPR) with Mark Krikorkian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies and Ali Noorani, Executive Director of National Immigration Forum. January 6, 2014.   Websites of diverse political perspectives including:

  • White House view:
  • Center for Immigration Studies:


  • 4th short paper on immigration (questions to be distributed).

  Event of interest: American Studies Day, AU. 12 noon – 9 pm. Poster submission possible on your class CBL work.   Week 13: April 15 - Organizing for Immigration Reform Readings: Preston, Julia, “Young Immigrants Say It’s Obama’s Time to Act,” New York Times, Nov. 30, 2012. Gonzalez, Paulina, “The Strategy and Organizing Behind the Successful DREAM Act Movement: Undocumented Youth Have Shown that Ordinary People Build Extraordinary People Power, Even in the United States,” Part I: Special to The Narco News Bulletin, July 10, 2012   Week 14: April 22 Student/Group Issue Presentations


April 29 – No Class -- Study day   Week 15: May 6 - Student /Group Issue Presentations & Final Meeting Everyone must attend this final gathering. Location: TBD Evaluation of class and end-of-semester potluck dinner. Final papers are due on this date, but can be handed in earlier.