Hello everybody! Full disclosure: this is the first time I’ve ever blogged, so please be patient with me as I learn my way around the blogging world! As with the start of every block, this week has been a whirlwind of activity! For the first time all school year, I’m in a class at or near full student capacity, which as a fairly shy person has been quite the adjustment. Although being packed into an Armstrong classroom was initially a little overwhelming, I’m actually quite excited to be a part of such a large class. For most of the year I’ve immersed myself in upper-level English courses where I’ve been surrounded by fellow English majors. In contrast to my previous six blocks, Mexican American Literature has a wide range of students representing every grade level and a number of different majors. Although we’re only a week in, I’ve really enjoyed the different perspectives of my fellow classmates. The variety of their viewpoints is incredibly refreshing and I think will help generate some fascinating discussions later in the block when we’ve all worked through the beginning-of-the-block jitters.
Throughout the week, our readings have given us all a glimpse into some important US history surrounding the settling of the West. Although a decent chunk have some background knowledge on how the West was settled, especially with regard to land acquisition, this is the first time we’ve learned about it from a non-white perspective and the differences are pretty astounding! I certainly never imagined the legal battles landowners became involved in that resulted in the destitution of a huge number of Mexican landowners. Silly me figured that the US gained the land through the same violent measures used against Native Americans in previous years! Long story short, I already feel like I’ve learned a lot and never expected to learn so much history in a literature class!
Yesterday, as part of class requirements, we attended Kristen Iverson’s lecture on Rocky Flats and the book she wrote about growing up in that area. For anyone who doesn’t know the significance of Rocky Flats (and believe me, yesterday I was one of those people), it was a facility in Arvada that produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The area is profoundly contaminated and many people lived or live nearby in complete ignorance of the health risks associated with the plant. As a native of Denver, Colorado, the information Ms. Iverson talked about was shocking and horrifying. Plutonium has contaminated soil, air, and water and there is almost no clean-up happening in large part because of expense. Although the plant was shut down a number of years ago (interestingly after the FBI raided it, which has one government agency investigating another government agency), numerous employees and local residents are experiencing debilitating health problems, including cancer, as a direct result of their exposure to chemicals from the plant. Even though I was a little unsure about the talk, I’m so happy that we all went because it taught us important facts about Colorado, but also helped us draw parallels between current issues and what we’ve been reading about in class.
Lots to think about and discuss after this week! Like I said at the beginning of the blog, I’m new to this, so still exploring what I can do, which means pictures or something along those lines will appear in my next post once I’ve figured more things out!