Barefoot Heart author speaks about migrant experience, education and achievement

Elva Trevino Hart

Elva Treviño Hart taught two journaling workshops at the Spring Conference of the Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy on Saturday, February 25.

An audience of more than 400 gathered on Friday, February 24 to attend a presentation by Elva Treviño Hart, author of Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child.  The program was part of  One Community/One Book  2012, a project jointly planned by The Libraries and the San Antonio Public Library, with broad support from the UT Health Science Center community and funding from Humanities Texas.

More than 320 attended the program in the newly remodeled Holly Auditorium on February 24.  Audiences also watched via video conferencing from the Harlingen and Laredo campuses, from the Institute for Health Promotion Research, and via web link.

Treviño Hart reflected on changes that have taken place in the lives of migrant farm workers over the years:  She believes farm workers are more vulnerable today than in the 1950s because of increased use of toxic chemicals, and because a larger proportion of the migrant workforce is undocumented, and thus unable to press claims when they are treated unfairly.   She responded at length out of her personal experience to a question about folk remedies and healing practices of  Mexican American communities in South Texas.

Ms. Treviño Hart also read two passages from the recently-released book, Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon, by Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa.  One of the passages spoke about the continuing reality of racial prejudice that is experienced even by professional health care workers.  The other was about the beauty of the human brain, which transcends racial and ethnic differences.

Treviño Hart was in San Antonio from Tuesday, February 21 through Saturday, February 26 in connection with One Community/One Book 2012.  Tuesday evening she attended a book discussion hosted by Dr. Eileen Breslin, Dean of the School of Nursing.  She had lunch on Wednesday with the Committee for the Advancement of Women and Minorities, and later attended a book discussion hosted by Rajia Tobia, Executive Director of Libraries.  On Thursday morning Treviño Hart and Dr. Irene Chapa of the Office of Recruitment and Science Outreach met with 60 students, plus approximately 20 parents, at San Antonio Independent School District’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy; Treviño Hart spoke about the importance of setting personal goals and seeking out the help of others.  Later that evening, she spoke to an audience of 135 at the San Antonio Public Library Central Library.  On Saturday, Hart was the keynote speaker at the Spring Conference of the Voelcker Biosciences Teacher Academy.  She conducted two conference workshops on journaling that were attended by 50 teachers.

Altogether, more than 600 individuals have attended One Community/One Book events this year.  Additional discussion groups are scheduled later in March and early April.

Partners in One Community/One Book 2012 include the Academic Center for Excellence in Teaching; the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics; the Office of Recruitment and Science Outreach; Michael Lichtenstein, M.D.; and Rajam Ramamurthy, M.D., all of the UT Health Science Center.  The program is also funded in part by Humanities Texas, the local affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian