Tina Eng and Samved Sangameswara were part of the 2016-17 Germanacos Fellowship for Sharing History and worked with a class of English Language Development students at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, CA.

The city of San Lorenzo has changed drastically over the last few decades, beginning as an almost entirely white population deeply protective of its citizens. As more and more residents from the diverse Bay Area began migrating into the city, and immigrants from other countries found themselves starting over in San Lorenzo, the city has had to grapple with these changing demographics.

This evolution of race and identity within one city became the focus of the students’ oral history project. The seven students in this class came from four different countries, each of them learning to call San Lorenzo their new home and facing xenophobia from the start. Using this opportunity to learn more about their role in this community, the students began to feel like a part of the history of the city rather than newcomers.

Each student conducted interviews and wrote profiles of longtime residents, compiling all their stories into a book: San Lorenzo Conversations About Change, Race, and Community.

They also held a roundtable discussion with teachers, students, and other residents, sharing their fears and hopes for the future of their community. The students led the discussions, guiding the participants through the complicated history of San Lorenzo.

“[The students] learned so much about themselves throughout the process, and I think the biggest thing they learned was how to engage with people outside of their social circles.” —Tina Eng