Stern: Casa Zapata
Casa Zapata is a four-class house focusing on the Chicanx and Latinx experience through educational and cultural programs. Zapata residents are engaged in a wide range of activities — staging plays for Zoot Suit week, planning film series, and sharing poetry and music at regular dorm gatherings. Zapata has been a source of inspiration, creativity and community for over fifty years.
I (Elvira Prieto) was born and raised in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley working alongside my parents and siblings in the grape fields and fruit packing sheds of Reedley, CA and surrounding communities in Fresno County. I am the first woman in my family to attend college. I received my B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I have worked in higher education, student affairs, academic advising, policy analysis and implementation, and community-based education for over fifteen years.
I am also a writer and poet and I am recently published on a manuscript in poetry and prose about my life journey, "An (Im)possible Life: Poesia y Testimonio in the Borderlands". I began writing poetry and prose over 15 years ago, due in large part to the encouragement and mentorship of my dear friend and teacher, Renato I. Rosaldo, Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, Emeritus at Stanford University. My writing is focused on the retelling of life recuerdos (memories) and testimonio with the intention of creating spaces of learning, light, love, and healing for individuals and community.
Having grown up in a very humble and economically disadvantaged, but extremely hard working immigrant family, I learned very early in my life the incredible value of an education as a means to the better life my parents wished for their children when they risked their own lives to come to the US. My work in education has always been informed by a desire to be of service in the field that allowed me to both honor my parent’s sacrifices and also to pursue my dreams.
My own education at Stanford and my personal and professional development and learning came from spaces like El Centro and the residences in which I lived, as much as from any of the classes I attended. Ujamaa, Adams, Yost, and Twain Houses were spaces that, via programming, shared meals, and all-night conversations not only helped me feel at home at Stanford, but they also afforded me the opportunity to learn about myself and the life path I could hope to follow.
Working in education is my passion, as is being an artist and writer, and contributing to the educational journey of others is a responsibility I take very seriously. I come to work every day with an open heart and a willingness to share of myself and learn as much from my colleagues and students as I can ever hope to teach them. I believe this same sense of love and respect for all members of the communities in which I participate is of value in service in our residences. I cannot imagine my own education without the rich life experiences, relationships and bonds I was able to create both as a resident and as an RA during my undergraduate journey at Stanford. I was able to live and learn with peers from backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives about life that were often times very different from my own, and although navigating difference can sometimes be challenging it can also be deeply fulfilling if we engage in open dialogue with a willingness to build relationship, to find common ground, and too learn. My goal as an RF is to help my RAs and other residence staff create opportunities for learning and sharing that celebrate diversity and promote a sense of “familia” for our residents, where the members of our house community can feel supported, honored, and safe.
My family is an incredibly important part of my life both at Stanford and outside of it. My siblings and I are very close and we are all involved in education or community development as part of our professional and personal endeavors. We are a very open and loving group and I have found that my students often enjoy spending time with us during community building events or holidays, especially when my nieces and nephews are around because little kids can be light and lots of fun. They will likely visit the dorm and help us create a sense of extended family at Casa Zapata as well. My hobbies include writing poetry and prose, reading historical fiction especially with themes of fantasy and magic, watching movies, listening to live music, dancing, hiking and being in nature.
I love spending time by the ocean as it is a place of peace and renewal for me. I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc., and more recently Game of Thrones. I love to cook and bake and eat, especially spicy food and/or most things chocolate. I am fascinated by alternative medicine and holistic healing practices, especially for promoting emotional and spiritual well being.
Casa Zapata Theme
Casa Zapata is a four-class house focusing on the Chicanx and Latinx experience through educational and cultural programs. Casa Zapata’s ethnic-focused theme creates a common bond for all residents—Latino and non-Latino alike—that fosters cross-cultural understanding and creates outstanding learning opportunities. House life is full of many different activities and programs, some of which focus on Chicanx/Latinx history, art and culture, while others address issues that are defined by residents and the greater Stanford community. And it has been our experience that this environment creates unparalleled opportunities to pursue your passions and to explore new ones. We hope to foster an environment that encourages exploration, fosters honest and open dialogue about difficult issues, and values diversity.