Challenging Stereotypes in the Classroom and Community | New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina

New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina is a curriculum-based media project for classrooms and communities that examines the cultural and economic contributions of Latino workers in North Carolina, as well as the challenges they face. The New Faces curriculum informs and engages youth and adult learners around issues of worker's rights, economic justice and race and ethnicity..

The Problem

Currently the world is experiencing an all-time high of migration, a phenomenon largely due to the economic pressures of global capitalism on the world’s poorest citizens. North Carolina is no exception to this phenomenon, and during the past 10 -15 years has experienced a rapid increase in new Latino immigrant populations in every county, from the coastal region, to the piedmont to the mountains. During this period of swift demographic change, Working Films was conducting outreach for our first multi-media economic justice curriculum, On the Job in North Carolina, From Farm to Factory to Fast Food. As we talked to teachers across the state about this curriculum, they voiced that it did not address the economic and cultural impact of the growing number of Latinos in North Carolina. They also observed that some of their Latino students and community members were experiencing a troubling wave of discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiment. They were in desperate need of materials to address these social, economic, and cultural issues.

The Process

Responding to the plea from teachers and basing our work on our experience with our first curriculum project, On the Job in North Carolina, Working Films initiated a new curriculum project, New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina. Our staff with expertise in curriculum design reviewed the North Carolina curriculum standards and began to create a series of lesson plans that addressed those standards and that also communicated key ideas that dispel stereotypes of North Carolina’s growing Latino population. The curriculum developers identified films that incorporated these issues and selected clips that served as the basis for many of the lessons and activities in the curriculum. Throughout this development process, Working Films solicited input from Latino leaders in North Carolina along with teachers and university professors. Teachers taught sample lessons and offered their feedback. New Faces: Latinos in North Carolina was also presented for review at statewide teacher conferences in disciplines such as social studies and language arts. The curriculum launched in Spring 2007. After three successful years of use in North Carolina classrooms, community centers, and professional development settings New Faces was revised to reflect changes in the realities facing North Carolina’s Latino community. The revised version released in 2010 includes additional information on topics such as globalization and its relationship to migration, as well as updated information on immigration policies and how they affect communities. This new version also attempts to be more inclusive and approachable for a wide range of audiences.

The Solution

The New Faces educational materials are appropriate for 8th -12th grade classrooms and for adult community groups that are learning about the impact of immigration, race relations, cultural diversity and equity in economic opportunities for all North Carolina communities. Using lessons built around documentary film clips, New Faces helps youth and adults understand the cultural and economic contributions of North Carolina’s growing Latino population as well as some of the challenges they face. All of the curriculum materials, including the film clips, are available online. Additionally, teachers, non-profits, and grassroots community groups can request a DVD of the film clips, free of charge.

The Result

The release of the original version of New Faces could not have come at a more appropriate time. As in many other places, Latinos in North Carolina are facing discrimination and other hardships as a result of the strong wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that is sweeping our country. For this reason, educators, particularly ESL teachers, and community organizations that serve Latinos have responded extremely positively to the curriculum, putting it to use with the goal of challenging stereotypes and making their communities more inclusive.

A well-coordinated outreach effort resulted in the successful implementation of the curriculum in North Carolina communities and schools. Outreach work on the curriculum has included presentations at statewide conferences for educators and immigrant advocates, as well as presentations at national events, such as the US Social Forum and the Allied Media Conference. Alliances such as the Adelante Coalition and NC Society of Hispanic Professionals, which promote improved education for Latino youth, have used the curriculum in their outreach work with educators and administrators in school districts across the state. In addition, we reengaged teachers who had previously expressed interest in this curriculum or On the Job, and collaborated with UNCW’s Centro Hispano and Watson School of Education to reach teachers and future teachers in Southeastern North Carolina.

The website, which allows users to watch the film clips and download all materials, has also played an important role in the wide use of the curriculum. One surprising and very positive result of the outreach is that professional development trainers in fields including medicine, education and social services have utilized the curriculum. Additionally, many college professors who teach seminars on immigration or who work in education schools are using New Faces.

This free curriculum is now in the hands of more than 300 teachers, university professors and community organizations statewide. The newly revised curriculum is now available for use across the state and Working Films’ expectation is that it will be even more effectively and widely used by teachers and organizers alike.

Director/ Producer:
Working Films Initiative

Release Date: 2007; update with new material: 2010



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