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Puerto Rican Heritage Cultural Ambassador Program to be Taught in Ohio

Josue Mendez

An Intro to Puerto Rican Studies course will be taught at the Lorain County Community College, located in Northeastern Ohio. It will be taught by Centro's own Dr. Raquel Ortiz. Classes begin October 2nd, run for 10 weeks and there’s the option of a web blend class that meets on Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. or a class that 100 percent online. The course will focus on the “racial, historical, linguistic, religious, social and cultural reality of the Puerto Rican diaspora" with a special focus on migration to Lorain, Ohio.

Puerto Ricans began arriving in Lorain in the mid-20th century. Like many others who left the Island around that time, they were in search of economic stability and opportunity. These pioneering migrants began to add to the character of the city and created a “Little Puerto Rico” of their own and now have institutions, political and socio-economic power and their own heroes and history that can and should be studied.

While courses centered on the Puerto Rican experience aren’t new to other areas within the United States, this course will be the first of its kind in the state of Ohio. Dr. Ortiz will use a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States and will make an effort to highlight the relationship the diaspora has with the Island and the importance of continuing to demand public policy to expand relief efforts in Puerto Rico, for U.S. citizens.

This will be the first time the Center for Puerto Rican Studies’ Puerto Rican Heritage Cultural Ambassador program is being used as the primary source of the curriculum for a collegiate course. The Cultural Ambassadors Program has been used and incorporated in certain history courses in a number of high schools, colleges, and libraries in New York and Ohio. Through the program, participants complete a number of assignments that include viewing the Pioneers/Pioneros Documentary Series; completing reading assignments on Puerto Rican history, culture, and traditions; and learning key dates and historical events that have shaped the diasporic experience. 

Students who complete the Intro to Puerto Rican Studies course at Lorain County Community College will not only receive three college credits but will have also have completed Courses #1 & #2 of the Cultural Ambassador Program. By becoming Puerto Rican Heritage Cultural Ambassadors, they will join others in sharing and teaching about the people, stories, struggles, and triumphs of Puerto Rico & the Diaspora.