In the first part of this project, students studied the history of San Diego through the history of lowriders, combining desk research, visits from guest speakers, and field work in the local community. From this research, students made zines about specific aspects of lowrider culture.
In the second part, every student became an expert on a specific history topic and created a model car that combined timelines, images of key people, quotations and QR codes linking to relevant resources, so the cars themselves became teaching tools.
Finally, each student exhibited their learning to another class of students, using their car as an instructional aid.
Studying this topic in the classroom has been the single most unifying force among my students every year. Aside from learning the history of our rich bi-national community, studying lowrider culture allows students to explore themes of identity and belonging, cultural heritage, advocacy, immigration, personal expression, family, citizenship, stereotypes & assumptions, community, language, intergenerational legacies and reciprocal relationships. Additionally, it gives us the opportunity to hear authentic community voices via lowrider guests speakers that we welcome into the classroom, allowing students to engage with the deep knowledge of elders in our community. Students are able to look critically at their own assumptions and stereotypes, and critically examine the prejudices held within their own families and communities.
I appreciated and felt inspired when [guest speaker] Mr. Rigo said that one of his most important moments in his life was realizing and identifying as Chicano. That finding an identity and community from that made you stronger. I can relate to the affirming and good feeling of finding a community and solidarity with people that share similar identities, interests, and experiences as you. I’m glad I got to hear him talk about it. I still struggle with what identities I really feel connected to, but hearing that he felt the same, and worked to create a safe environment for yourself and others makes me very happy. Thank you for teaching us about epistemology. Learning that truth comes from our community will guide me in the future. It reminds me that our communities give us strength.