Week of Introductions

My name is Maria Guadalupe Manzo, but my friends and family call me Lupita. I’m a Southern California native who was born in Pomona, but raised in the growing desert town of Victorville. I graduated in 2014 from the University of California, Riverside with a major in English and a minor in Environmental Science. After college, I served a year in Providence, RI with City Year, an AmeriCorps program. While it took me a while to figure out the geography and the ins and outs of New England living, I was able to work in a 8th grade English classroom where I tutored and mentored multicultural, inner-city students from under-served communities. It was a tough and ever-changing job, but extremely rewarding in the end! From these different experiences I learned that I really liked working with communities and kids who are multicultural to increase the importance they place on education, but that I also wanted to integrate this with my background in environmental science. Luckily, I was given the chance through the Latino Heritage Internship Program and the Hispanic Access Foundation to do just that! This summer I will be working out of the Los Angeles District Office of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to create various educational resources for local educators and students about the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, CA. A bit confusing, but you’ll catch my drift soon enough. But, basically, it meant that after almost a year away from my homeland, I got the opportunity to come back 3,000 miles to sunny California (closer to home-cooked meals) and leave behind the piles of snow and the emerging humidity to do some pretty awesome work in essentially all the areas I’m interested in! (woot woot!) My first week in the office has been great and I have been especially mesmerized by the location of the office at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. On my first day I got the chance to take a short tour around the Plaza and Olvera Street and I was more than overjoyed by the sights, smells, and the presence of my Mexican culture. I was able to learn some brief history of the building that I am working out of, the Firehouse next door, the Pico House (which became the first hotel West of the Mississippi), and Los Pobladores who established the city in the late 1800s. After we toured the Avila Adobe House on Olvera Street, we stopped by Mr. Churro for lunch and I ate a torta for the first time since I left California last July (ate it so fast there was no time for pics!).

La Plaza at the Historic El Pueblo

La Plaza at the Historic El Pueblo

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The plaque listing Los Pobladores who founded el pueblo de Los Angeles in the late 1800s.

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The lavish Pico House.

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Olvera Street

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The vendors selling Mexican souvenirs along Olvera Street.

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The Avila Adobe house, the oldest house in Los Angeles.

Other than that, I have been having a great time settling into the office, getting to know the awesome people here, and scouring through books and films that showcase Cesar E. Chavez’s life. As of late, I’ve been brainstorming activities for elementary-aged students and have been trying to do this in conjunction with California teaching standards. So, all in all, it has been a great start and I can’t wait to continue this work after the holiday weekend! Happy 4th of July!

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