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Harvest of Empire, Our Pre-Course Assignment!

Hello Dragons!

The undertaking we’re all about to embark on is sure to be full of unexpected and amazing learning opportunities. As instructors we know that so much of the learning happens in the moment, on the ground and unscripted. Nonetheless we also have the hope to jump start our education together before we meet up with a pre-course task that we would like you all to complete.

As you know, the themes of our Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo as we say en español, program center around issues of immigration, indigenous realities, and land. We believe that all of these topics are inextricably linked to the history of the region and must be studied in order to have a grasp of what we will be seeing and hearing. There are any number of wonderful resources that touch on focus on these issues and we encourage you to pursue your own education by seeking out some information of your own. If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out the Course Preparation Manual or send us an email!

We would also like to ask you each to read a chapter from the book we’ve chosen to highlight, Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez. We are mailing each of you a copy of this book and it should arrive soon. If you would like to read more than your assigned chapter, you are welcome and encouraged! We would like you to bring the book with you on course and come prepared to share about the chapter you read at our orientation. If you are currently outside of the US, we won’t be able to mail your book but we will email you a PDF and give you your hard copy when you arrive!

In addition to reflecting on the chapter we’re asking you to read, we’d also like you to watch the documentary based on the book which can be found on YouTube at this link:

Please watch the movie and in your introduction on the Yak board please include something that you learned, some new knowledge or insight that you’ve had after watching the film.

Thank you all, we’re really looking forward to meeting up, traveling and learning together in this time of change that has the potential to be very powerful.

Please feel free to post any questions you have here on the Yak board and we’ll respond as soon as we can.


  1. Conquerors and Victims: The Image of America Forms (1500–1800)—Will M.
  2. The Spanish Borderlands and the Making of an Empire (1810–1898)—Anna
  3. Banana Republics and Bonds: Taming the Empire’s Backyard (1898–1950)—Tyler
  4. Puerto Ricans: Citizens Yet Foreigners—Will A.
  5. Mexicans: Pioneers of a Different Type—Sally
  6. Cubans: Special Refugees—Jane
  7. Dominicans: From the Duarte to the George Washington Bridge—Caroline
  8. Central Americans: Intervention Comes Home to Roost—Isabel
  9. Colombians and Panamanians: Overcoming Division and Disdain—Laura
  10. The Return of Juan Seguín: Latinos and the Remaking of American Politics—Nicoline
  11. Immigrants Old and New: Closing Borders of the Mind—Nina
  12. Speak Spanish, You’re in America!: El Huracán over Language and Culture—Matthew

With anticipation,

Your Instructor Team