The MENTE Project came about from a history, teaching, and a need. The founding organizer of the Migrant Education Network for Tradition in Excellence, Dr. Reynaldo Reyes, saw this as an opportunity to honor his mother’s and grandfather’s history as workers in agriculture, on farms, and having participated in migrant education programs. And honoring them was a way to honor the lives and sacrifices of the many other migrant and farmworker families and communities that have helped build and maintain our farming and food industry.
As part of his work as a university scholar and educator, he wanted to establish a legacy of service to and advocacy for the migrant and farmworker community and their children through his abilities to utilize and build on the generosity of time and resources at the university, the community, and future educators. This effort began with his teaching. Dr. Reyes saw this as a way to use the service model as a way to prepare future educators (and now other university students) to work with marginalized students in the most humanizing and pedagogically effective ways.
After inviting students from a local migrant education program to his classes to engage in unique “envisioning pedagogies” and experiences with UTEP future educators, he saw that there was a great need to provide such opportunities to more students and to institutionalize such efforts for this student population. With the amazing collaboration and support from various offices and departments at the University of Texas as El Paso, from individuals and businesses from the local community and beyond, the MENTE Project and its annual symposium has evolved in a high quality and engaging experience. Students from migrant and farmworker communities do not just attend and passively listen. The MENTE Symposium is an opportunity for the student attendees to engage and, hopefully, act and build on the energy and inspiration that can be encountered with caring and compassionate others who provide their personal and professional knowledge to inspire and show what is possible in the seen and unseen.