VILLANOVA, Pa.–In Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students don’t have to go far outside the classroom to gain a global perspective and expand their intellectual horizons. During the spring and fall of 2016, under the facilitation of two professors of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Dr. Raúl Diego Rivera Hernández and Dr. Tomás Hidalgo Nava, students collaborated with the Latino community of Norristown on a mural of Mexican social movements, through a partnership with the Center for Culture, Art, Training and Education (CCATE).
CCATE is an organization that assists and empowers the local Hispanic community by providing tutoring, after-school assistance, film making classes and other programs to promote education, art and Latino culture. When the organization decided to create a mural representing the struggles of the Mexican people, Drs. Diego Rivera Hernández and Hidalgo Nava, embraced the opportunity to partner on the project.
“It was beautiful to see Villanova students join the Latino community to create something together,” said Dr. Diego Rivera Hernández. “The mission of the project was to highlight the fact that the Latino population in the U.S. is producing culture and knowledge.”
Members of CCATE sketched the design and brought the canvas to Villanova, where Villanova and high school Latino students worked side-by-side to paint the mural for nearly six hours a day.
For Clayton Shepherd ’17 CLAS, one of the students who worked the project, the experience encouraged him to take on new perspectives. Presented with the narrative of the immigration journey and the story of the Mexican revolution, Clayton sought to learn more.
“Personally, it pushed me to further pursue the topic, as I recently elected to take a senior seminar about Latin American Migration as the culminating aspect of my political science degree,” said Clayton. “I'd recommend other students take part in projects like this because they diversify the Villanova educational experience and give insight that a classroom and a textbook cannot.”
In November 2016, CCATE members came to campus and presented the finished product—which illustrates a personal and profound timeline of Mexican history. As an expression of their gratitude for the sustained relationship with Villanova students, the Latino families donated the mural to the University. It is permanently exhibited on the 3rd floor of Saint Augustine Center.
“Dean Adele Lindenmeyr and Dr. Silvia Nagy-Zekmi, the chair of the Romance Languages department, supported the mural project with enthusiasm from its beginning,” said Dr. Diego Rivera Hernández. “This is an excellent example of how universities should respond to cultural projects created by communities.”
About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.