In 2019, students in the Community Development in the Upper Midwest class worked closely with the City of Columbus Junction, the Columbus Junction Public Library, and University of Iowa Upward Bound students to produce three documentary videos portraying the relationship between people and place for Latinx residents of Columbus Junction. Residents, including two Upward Bound students, and public officials described the evolution of Columbus Junction into a diverse community that has become a major center of Latinx population in Iowa.
This year the class consisted of two graduate students, one in Urban and Regional Planning and one in English, along with seven undergraduates with majors including English, English and Creative Writing, Art, Geography, International Studies, and Political Science. Their variety of backgrounds brought a creative and broadminded approach to the documentaries.
Each group of UI students selected from a set of interviews they completed in February and March, 2019, to formulate a five minute video documentary on the Latinx community in Columbus Junction. What emerges from the videos is a strong sense of community that exists in Columbus Junction among the Latinx residents. Our University of Iowa students spoke to a variety of Columbus Junction residents including an owner of a restaurant who had moved her business from Los Angeles to Columbus Junction, a local rap artist whose music has gone international, and a young woman who is the valedictorian (and homecoming queen) of her high school class.
These documentaries are a fulfillment of one of the Iowa Storytelling Project's key goals: to demonstrate the variety of identities, experiences, and places that characterize communities in Iowa.