April 25, 2014, “Nuestras Historias” Documentary Screening
On April 25, 2014 SPOHP premiered “Nuestras Historias,” a film produced by SPOHP Digital Humanities Coordinator Deborah Hendrix and Latina/o Diaspora in the Americas Project Coordinator Génesis Lara. The film sheds light on the Hispanic-Latino community at the University of Florida and the origins of the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, or “La Casita,” on campus.
- Watch “Nuestras Historias”, now available on YouTube!
Background: Developing the Film
The SPOHP-produced documentary, Nuestras Historias, seeks to tell the history of the Institute of Hispanic-Latino cultures at the University of Florida through memories from students who have called the center home for decades. In English, “Nuestras Historias” can either mean “our stories” or our “histories.”
The documentary was organized by SPOHP with IH-LC’s former director, Dr. Eric Castillo, for the center’s twentieth anniversary. Throughout 2013, UF Center for Latin American Studies Program Coordinator Nathalia Ochoa and SPOHP staff and interns conducted 35+ interviews for the project, which SPOHP Latina/o Diaspora in the Americas Project Coordinator Génesis Lara and SPOHP Digital Humanities Coordinator Deborah Hendrix edited into the “Nuestras Historias” documentary.
Event Presentation: Screening “Nuestras Historias”
Following opening remarks from UF Vice President Dave Kratzer, the film “Nuestras Historias” was viewed by a full audience in the Ocora at Pugh Hall on April 25, 2014. The documentary featured the narratives of current and former University of Florida students, as well as former directors of the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures spanning a twenty-year period.
Despite differences in age and family background, “Nuestras Historias” tells the story of a community committed to acquiring a great education in honor of their families and also with the hopes of making this world a better place.
Vanessa Carlo-Miranda, one of the founders of La Casita, spoke about the negative response she received at a Student Government meeting when students gathered to request renovation funds from SG. After their harsh remarks, Vanessa remembered feeling infuriated and hurt, saying, “in my heart, I was a Gator like any other. I was no different than anyone else in that room. But in their hearts I was. I was a very different kind of Gator.”
Vanessa was not the only person to have such experiences at the University of Florida years ago. The film features narratives from students who remember being discriminated against at UF, and who later used those experiences as motivation to create spaces where Hispanic-Latino students could find support and tools for success on campus. La Casita has been the place for the past twenty years.
Coordinator Lara hopes the film, in many ways, may serve as an awakening for students, faculty, staff and administrators on campus to realize the issues that the Gator Nation is currently facing, including a lack of retention and recruitment of faculty and staff of color at the University of Florida.
After the screening, audience members were able to ask questions of the film producers. Nathalia Ochoa, Génesis Lara and Dr. Paul Ortiz discussed which steps could be next for organizers of the UF Latina/o community, and many audience members expressed their belief that the film should be viewed by even more students and UF administrators.
Lara believes the message of Nuestras Historias is first and foremost for current UF students, specifically minority student communities. “My hope is that these communities will come together and fight together to create a more unified campus for all. We, as students, cannot forget those that came before us and were brave enough to not just fight for their present but our future as well. It is now our job to fight for a better future. To UF faculty administrators, my hope is not solely that they listen to the students, but also work with the students, collaboratively and honestly.”
This public program was made possible by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures. It was also co-sponsored by the University of Florida’s Student Government and the University of Florida Alumni Association and the Association of Hispanic Alumni.
We owe much thanks to all the alumni and students who volunteered their time to tell us their historias. We can never forget the power of Nuestras Historias. As Nathalia Ochoa stated, We need to own our stories, because no one can tell us what we are and who we are not if we know it.