Latinos in Rural America (LiRA) is a public humanities project designed to broaden knowledge, engagement and understanding of the Latino experience in rural Ohio. LiRA will achieve this objective by building from past successful efforts, which have served a similar purpose for other ethnic minorities. Working in close collaboration with Kenyon’s Digital Initiatives Librarian, Jenna Nolt, and two Kenyon summer scholar students, the project engages members of the Knox County Latino community and local institutions such as the Knox County Health Department, Knox County United Way, Mt. Vernon’s St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church (a pivotal hub for Latinos in Mount Vernon) and other community organizations. In addition, LiRA will consult two humanities scholars who specialize in Ohio rural life and Latino immigration, as well as work with Kenyon students enrolled in SPAN 380, Introduction to Chicano Cultural Studies (fall 2015) as part of the actual student course activities. This collaboration will culminate in a public bilingual exhibition, Latinos in Rural America, which will travel locally and throughout Ohio, December 2015 – March 2016, and which will constitute the primary vehicle to bring visibility and cultural presence to the emerging Latino community in rural Ohio. The project will digitize these materials to support the community-engaged learning component of SPAN 380, a core course of Kenyon Latino Studies concentration.
Themes of the exhibition will include: history of the Latino population in Knox County, journey stories (the past), what and where is home (the present), food culture, church, family life, personal and community aspirations, Latino communication norms, contributions to local, state and national life, and perceptions of diversity and inclusion. Based on the collected content, the core of the exhibition will be a series of ten banners depicting the Latino experience in Knox County. Two digital stations will supplement the exhibition. One will project a selection of video interviews onto a screen. The second station will support an online, on-site reflection piece or evaluation to measure the impact of the exhibition on participating audiences. To ensure compliance with applicable regulations and guidelines on research with human subjects, the Kenyon College IRB will review all questionnaires. The oral history project will be reviewed and registered with this body as well. As part of this process, the project director and Kenyon summer scholars already completed the Kenyon IRB’s Human Subject training course prior to beginning summer research.