As a part of their first unit in history this year, 8th Grade students are exploring Los Angeles culture through multiple lenses and experiences. The unit, called "Finding Your LA Roots," takes inspiration from a well known PBS show hosted by eminent scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Like the notable Americans on the show, students have explored their own family histories through oral history and personal archives in order to explore how their own history is connected to key elements of Los Angeles history, from the entertainment industry and higher education to migrations from the US south and many countries around the world.
In order to deepen students’ understanding, teachers Nichole Stater Foss and Jean Paul deGuzman led a field trip to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum where students explored LA’s urbanization in two different exhibits there. Last week, the Humanities Learning Series hosted Nobuko Miyamoto and Xochi Flores of the organization Great Leap for a participatory dance workshop that also connected to the "Finding Your LA Roots" unit. Nobuko and Xochi challenged each student to engage with the multiple cultural layers and histories of local migrant communities through dance. The students learned the history of Fandango and Obonduri dances and explored the ways the Great Leap and its annual festival FandangObon bring diverse Los Angeles migrant experiences together.