SPO graduate student Rodney Lebrón Rivera, Assistant in Instruction for SPA 250 / LAS 250 Identity in the Spanish-Speaking World, has been awarded a grant by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning to develop the digital pedagogy project The Puerto Rico StoryMaps, which served as the capstone of the class study trip to the island during fall break.
Rodney collaborated with the Digital Learning Lab to conceive, manage, and implement an assignment designed to offer a creative alternative to the traditional essay, while encouraging students to think about spatial connections to identity. Students carried out fieldwork during our stay in San Juan. Upon their return, they used StoryMaps to produce media-rich essays that explore the significance of space and geography to their topics. The Puerto Rico StoryMaps gave SPA 250 / LAS 250 students a fantastic opportunity to advance their digital literacy, create maps, and pair them with text to produce compelling narratives. Thanks to their collective efforts, we now have a digital archive of their study-abroad experience, which can be shared with a wider audience, emphasizing the potential for humanities research to reach the public.
Visiones de resistencia y resiliencia. El discurso político-comunitario en Puerto Rico
By Sejal Goud ‘25
Visiones de resistencia y resiliencia explores the complicated relationship between resistance, resilience, and Puerto Rican identity. Beginning with dictionary entries of resistencia and resiliencia, the StoryMap works from the perspective of two community organizations—one urban (Taller Comunidad La Goyco), one rural (Casa Pueblo)—to challenge and infuse these standard definitions with lived experience. Through multimedia reflections, including a conversation with SPO Professor Emeritus Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones on the topic of la brega puertoriqueña, the project highlights how definitions that have historically been used to justify a lack of sustainable infrastructure in Puerto Rico can be reclaimed and redefined by communities in ways that incorporate specific histories, geographies, and futures.
VIVA LA PATRIA: Una examinación del nacionalismo cultural puertorriqueño
By Emilia Santianni ’25
Through this StoryMaps project, I explore the nuanced Puerto Rican identity present in every corner of the island. I study language issues, music, dance, and the iconography of the flag alongside the island’s colonial past to provide a comprehensive analysis of the development of a distinct Puerto Rican national identity. The research relies on textual and visual material gathered during our trip to the island, including graffiti and murals, quotes, and videos. These cultural and linguistic expressions are interpreted as evidence of communal strength and of a cultural nationalism that distinguishes Puerto Rico from the United States while rejecting the colonial system that has been institutionalized throughout the island’s history.
By Bryce Springfield ’25
During our trip, we had many opportunities to observe and immerse ourselves in places, situations and interactions marked by democracy or the absence of democracy, from a student coffee cooperative and the hostel where we stayed, to Casa Pueblo and the Capitol, as well as a theater workshop at the collective Agua, Sol y Sereno. This StoryMap project focuses on some issues related to the expansion and restriction of democracy in Puerto Rico, including the current situation of US colonization, capitalist property, and the artistic creativity of the collective. The idea that the incompleteness of governmental democracy in Puerto Rico has fostered the development of alternative democracy projects to deal with social failures is affirmed.