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ASU’s Mexican Americans of Litchfield Park Oral History Project earns Best of the West award


October 27, 2006

Arizona State University’s Mexican Americans of Litchfield Park Oral History project was recognized by a coalition of community, business and civic organizations for its significant contribution to the West Valley community. For the second consecutive year, ASU has received the Celebrating Cultural Awareness honor at Westmarc’s annual Best of the West awards. The award was presented to ASU at Westmarc’s 14th annual Best of the West Awards dinner, Thursday, Oct. 27.

The Mexican Americans of Litchfield Park Oral History was project was directed by Gloria Cuadraz, director for the Ethnicity, Race, and First Nations Studies program, and associate professor in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU’s West campus. Cuadraz interviewed former Mexican American camp residents and traced the history of Litchfield Park and the migrant workers who broke ground, dug canals, cleared and irrigated the land and planted and harvested crops.

Several students from New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences were also credited for their work and contributions to the oral history project. Ed Burleson, for example, directed and edited "Voices from the Camps of Litchfield Park" with the assistance of Marcos Pineda. Elizabeth Martinez is currently conducting oral histories with a second set of interviewees, in addition to transcribing of the interviews.

What makes the project so significant is that students, historians and scholars are now provided an opportunity to reflect on an important snapshot of history, economics and culture. West Valley citizens in particular now are able to study, explore and appreciate how a unique history has shaped and continues to shape the quality of life in Litchfield Park and the greater Phoenix community.

In addition, Westmarc honored ASU’s Professional Development School/Avondale School District Partnership Program. The PDS/Avondale partnership program is an 18-month fast-track program that places College of Teacher Education and Leadership students in the classroom for four five-week rotations in the District’s primary and middle school classrooms before these ASU students even begin their teaching careers. The Avondale Elementary School District has been a PDS partner for two years, and ongoing performance-based research indicates that elementary school students of first-year, PDS‑ prepared teachers have significantly higher test scores. The program received an honorable mention.

Westmarc, an acronym for Western Maricopa Coalition, was founded in 1990 and promotes public policies leading to growth, quality of life, strong community development and a favorable public image. The awards were presented to organizations, programs and individuals for their varied contributions to the West Valley.