Campbell students Anna Baker, Morgyn Lyden and Katia Thomas concluded their semester-long research process by presenting their Disney-themed projects at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS) at UNC-Wilmington in December.
Led by Dr. René Ibarra, associate professor of Spanish for the College of Arts & Sciences, the students learned not only how to prepare a successful presentation, but how to move while presenting, how to react to questions from the audience and how to integrate questions and suggestions from attendees into their research by annotating for later review.
“Their sessions were heavily attended; there were about 60 people present,” Ibarra said. “They were nervous, but once they started presenting, they gained confidence and captured the attendees. The audience reacted positively to their research.”
Baker’s presentation was titled: “Disney’s Encanto and Colombian Displacement.” Her presentation involved family displacement in Colombia during the country’s civil war by offering statistics to discuss the theme and how this was portrayed in the film. She touched on militarism in Latin America and the representation of the faceless Caudillo in the movie. Baker also explored the significance of La Casita (the little house) in the film and its meaning related to the previous topics.
Lyden’s presentation explored how the Disney’s Coco celebrated Mexican cultures while bringing attention to the issue of immigration. Miguel, the main protagonist, crosses from the Land of the Living to the Land of the Death in search of a deceased family member’s blessing to be a musician. By making Miguel cross the border, the film exhibits symbols alluding to current political tensions regarding border control and documentation in the U.S. These references illustrate a deeper connection between family and the value of memories in Mexican cultures.
In her session, Lyden depicted the relationship between the Mexican themes of family and memories with the current political issues surrounding border control between Mexico and the U.S. Through learning more about Mexican values portrayed in the movie, she illustrated the coming-of-age story of both the main character and the real-life issues of immigrant children.
Thomas’ presentation focused on the Disney Pixar film Coco and how to use this film to explore its potential to teach primary grade students about memory, death and Mexican culture. Culture is an important tenant in the 5 C’s of teaching foreign language: communication, culture, comparison, connection and community. If cultural education is systematically planned to support students in developing a firm foundation in Mexican/Hispanic culture, they will be able to holistically explore the Spanish language and make lasting connections that will positively impact language acquisition.
“Through the series of lessons they created, the students expanded their multicultural understanding through exposure to Mexican music and familial connections to memory and death,” Ibarra said. “The participants walked away with activities, handouts and strategies for teaching Mexican culture in their classrooms.”