Greg Gentile

Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, Brooklyn NY

Through an investigation of one of the most controversial figures in Mexican history, "La Malinche," explore across Mexico themes of colonialism, feminism and indigenous history to engage students of different backgrounds and support their academic achievement.

Where I've Been

  • Cholula, Mexico
  • Cholula, Mexico
  • Coatzacoalcos, Mexico
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Guanajuanto, Mexico
  • Heroica Veracruz, Mexico
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Tlaxcala, Mexico
  • Villahermosa, Mexico
  • Xalapa, Mexico

My Fellowship in Images

In front of ancient Olmec ruins.
A mural of La Malinche.
At the top of the mountain named after La Malinche
Filming Chuvho a local guide we met in Antigua talking about La Malinche.
Ancient Olmec heads found near sites Malinche visited.
Gathering evidence to bring back to our students.

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

I have learned an incredible amount not only about myself but the history of Mexico. Having to interview a number of strangers in a foreign language was a very new task for me. It allowed me to see different historical perspectives and understand that everyone operates truly has their own story.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

I will use the all the sources we collected to highlight different historical perspectives as well as the surveys we took to support the learning target "understanding different historical perspectives." I think it's important for students to see that history is made up of artifacts and that history truly changes with time and perspective.

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

My personal accomplishment was truly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Having to talk in a foreign language and interact with everyday people in Mexico, as well as travel in a foreign land truly helped develop my own perspective and push my comfort limits. I felt like Anthony Bourdain out there.

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

We hope that by showing the students the interviews, images, artifacts, and videos, it will bring history and learning to life. We believe that for them to see that these debates are happening now and that these resources aren't totally abstract will raise engagement. We hope this will make all student learning more authentic in the classroom.

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

We hope to make our curriculum public when we finish it to encourage other teachers and schools to use and give their students a different perspective on this time period in history. Hopefully we can move away from the European-centric view of telling indigenous history.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

The final assessment will be for the students to argue for the legacy of La Malinche using all of the resources we have gathered. We would really like for this to be a big event where kids dress up, role play, play different roles in court, and present it to a large audience after having researched and prepared their sides.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

Indigenous history is still very minimal in our curriculums yet many still face issues and oppression such as the Standing Rock protests, and the Zapatistas in Chiapas. It is important to show different perspectives and narratives other than the colonial one. We want students to not only be aware of indigenous history, but know that it matters, and that much can be done to help.

How would you describe to a friend or a grant funder the most fundamental ways in which your fellowship has changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

Having to live in the history that we were teaching gave us a different perspective because now with a personal connection to the communities a different value has been placed on teaching and implementing this curriculum.