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San Antonio artist establishes “M.A.S for the Masses

By KeAnna Whisenhunt
La Prensa de San Antonio

San Antonio native and artist Moni Avila has designed a program that will educate the public on the importance of Mexican American culture and its history.

Inspired by her own upbringing and family background, Moni Avila wanted to create a way for people to learn more about Mexican American history and the impact it has on the Alamo city. In reference to her personal contribution to starting this program Avila details, “I come from a huge family. There are probably about 175 of us living here in the area, and none of us know anything about Mexican American studies at all, other than what is taught — maybe a page or page and a half in the classroom.”

With nearly 60 percent of San Antonio’s population being Hispanic or Latino, Mexican American Studies are a prominent part of the city’s character and traditions.

As the creator and event organizer of “M.A.S for the Masses”, Moni Avila is hoping that those who attend the classes take something away in the end. “What makes Mexican American Studies so important is that you have to know who you are, where you came from, and what your history is. You have to know who you are to know who you want to be,” says Avila.

To understand Mexican American studies is to understand the history, literature, culture, sociological perspective, politics, culture, and humanities.
Courses instructed during this six-week program will define those components in a way that is highly educational, but fun for everyone.

Modeled after the Mexican American Studies program implemented at the University of Texas-Pan American, the courses taught will incorporate major modules of the university’s Mexican American history classes.

While many typical classes are held in a lecture setting, each instructor has his or her own creative approach to teaching the courses. Moni Avila has designated individuals who have a passion for sharing their knowledge of Mexican American studies. The instructors’ professions have variety, ranging from community activists to artists.

Classes begin Sunday, July 5 and will end Sunday, August 8. Each 90-minute course of the six-week program will be taught by a different instructor. Each course will define a different construct of Mexican American studies, in a condensed form.

“The first course is going to talk about Indians and Spanish heritage in Mesoamerica, to the Spanish conquest, to the Mission system,” Avila describes.

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