Hilos Culturales Summer Institute attendees experience Upper Rio Grande traditions


group photo of participants and faculty of hilos culturales summer institut

In the oldest town in Colorado, tales of conquistadors, traditional art forms, songs, and dances were passed along to a current generation of Adams State University faculty and staff. The third annual Hilos Culturales Summer Institute, held in San Luis the fourth week of July, enlightened attendees on the rich history and culture of the Upper Rio Grande people.

The tightly scheduled days begin with morning workshops. Carlos Gonzales shared his expertise with Adams State administrative staff. Barbara Catbagan and Scott VanLoo, active learning/teaching facilitators, engaged campus faculty in strategies to better engage students in the classroom.

Seated on old church pews, cooled by afternoon breezes waving curtains inward, the cohesive group listened and participated as experts in their field shared their knowledge of the Spanish Colonial visual arts, music, dance, language, lineage, religious ceremonies, and stories.

While the institute extended knowledge about centuries old customs and traditions, an underlying current spoke to the participants about the struggle for the early Europeans and the Indigenous populations to adapt and maintain their culture as the passage of time brings new governments, language, and society's education and expectations.

According to Lillian Gomez, Title V Institutional Grant Project director, understanding that all students bring to the campus and classroom a diversity of backgrounds helps professors and staff break down preconceived ideas and focus on delivering unbiased learning opportunities.

Every year, 20 Adams State faculty and staff members are selected to attend the Hilos Culturales Summer Institute, funded by ASU Title V dollars appropriated by the United States Department of Education for Hispanic Serving Institutions.

In its third year, the institute began when Gomez realized the potential of partnering with Hilos Culturales to further the mission of the Title V grant and Adams State to serve the regional population of Hispanics. Herman and Patsy Martinez, Adams State alumni '69 and '70, co-founded Hilos Culturales, Inc., a Colorado non-profit organization.