The professor (third from right) and his students in Puerto Rico. The course attracted not only Spanish and Latinx majors but also those majoring in math, psychology, economics, film and media studies and other disciplines.

After learning how to incorporate documentary filmmaking into his teaching, Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez worked with students in his Spanish 345 course, “Puerto Rico: Diaspora Nation,” to conduct oral histories of Puerto Ricans in and around Holyoke, Mass., a city that’s home to the largest population of Puerto Ricans, per capita, in the continental United States. Then, over spring break, the class went to Puerto Rico to interview family members of the Holyoke subjects. Students turned the resulting footage into a 22-minute documentary film. On the pages that follow, the professor explains how the project came to be, five students describe the trip and some of the interview subjects share their perspective.

Professor Paul Schroeder-Rodriguez

Why He Taught the Course

In this first-person narrative, Paul A. Schroeder Rodriguez, professor of Spanish, explains why he taught the course.

Students in Paul Rodriguez's class

The Student View

Five students in Professor Rodriguez's course discuss what it was like to part of this experience.

Carlos Andino Cruz

The People in the Film

As a culminating project, the class created a 22-minute documentary film, Puerto Rico Pa’lante. It alternates between Spanish and English, with subtitles in both languages. 

Amherst students delivered dinners from Valentine Dining Hall to Puerto Rican refugees living nearby

The Storm Wasn't Over

Students delivered hot meals from Valentine Dining Hall to Puerto Rican refugees living nearby—and incorporated that effort into their coursework.