On May 30-June 1, the University of Arizona Center for Latin American Studies, UA South and Outreach College featured the film Al Otro Lado as part of the 2012 Summer Institute for Educators: Teaching the Borderlands. The three-day Institute provided K-12 and community college teachers with a range of experiences – from lectures about unique musical styles to a tour of the Arizona State Museum’s Many Mexicos exhibit.
Al Otro Lado allowed participants to consider the themes of both migration and music. The film’s powerful story line about the decisions of young corrido composer Magdiel to leave his fishing village in Sinaloa in search of opportunities in the U.S. was interwoven with the stories of famed corridistas who have had great success in the U.S. before him. These themes resonated strongly with the Institute participants, since many of their students have their own migration stories and idolize the heroes of the narcocorridos. Teachers debated the effect of narcocorridos on their communities – whether they simply glorify violence or fill a void for students by giving them heroes who overcome challenges similar to their own. UA South adjunct faculty and assistant vice chancellor of Pima Community College Dr. Dolores Duran-Cerda followed the discussion with a lecture about the folk art form of the corrido, including its role in the Mexican Revolution and the development of today’s narcocorridos.