As a DiaspoRican, or a Puerto Rican in the diaspora who has lived most of her life moving back and forth between Puerto Rico and the United States, I am acutely aware of the importance of connecting struggles across geopolitical, cultural, and identity-based markers. Living in and out of diaspora has taught me to be conscious of how linguistic and cultural conditions influence decisions I make in my writing, scholarship, and teaching, as well as how I approach the diversity of students in my classrooms.
Drawing on my work in cultural rhetoric and multimodal composition, which I approach through a transnational feminist and decolonial perspective, I help students critically question discourses that may affect or empower underprivileged communities while improving their abilities as writers and readers who understand how language can influence the lives of individuals or a collective.
Besides a focus on language and rhetoric, in my classrooms I encourage students to pay attention to publics in and beyond temporary geographic contexts as a way to acknowledge other cultures and histories. As an educator, my pedagogy focuses on producing more conscious, critically aware, skillful and reflective global citizens who can communicate effectively in a variety of contexts and situations.
In the above set of images, I include a flier of an event I organized at the University of Kentucky, as part of the Year of Migration series of the College of Arts and Sciences, connected to my course titled, Beyond Electoral Politics: Public Advocacy in Everyday Life. It featured Puerto Rican scholars artists, and activists talking about migrations in the midst of colonial and climate crises. As part of the same class, we visited the African American Heritage trail, learning more about Lexington histories of Black activism and memorable figures. The bottom right image features a student-planned activity to discuss course readings about political rhetoric in public and digital spheres.
In future courses I expect to expand upon the kinds of diverse, inclusive, creative, collaborative, and experiential learning practices I’ve already applied in my ten years of teaching through a cultural rhetoric and composition approach. I hope to continue to engage students in experiences that make clear the kind of impact we can have in creating a more equitable academy and society.