Local Activism   |   Tucson, AZ

Interview with Ernesto Somoza - Love the Place You Live

December 2020 | Interview by: Raye Winch | Photos by: Rachel Castillo

Ernesto Somoza; stands inside his classroom at Pueblo High School in South Tucson, Arizona where he teaches Graphic Design. He is surrounded by props and tools used in his classroom.

Ernesto Somoza; stands inside his classroom at Pueblo High School in South Tucson, Arizona where he teaches Graphic Design.

“It is gold where we live. Love the place that you live and get engaged and you can't go wrong.”

Ernesto Somoza is a lifelong Tucsonan, an artist, educator, and outdoor enthusiast. Through leading student cycling, hiking, and camping trips he helps to instill a sense of belonging and love of the land and region.

He graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts and now teaches a state-of-the-art graphic design course including 3D printing, drone flying and website design.

Original music produced by Jaime J. Soto

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Ernesto Somoza; educator and activist stands inside his classroom surrounded by 3D printers, computers, drones, cameras, bicycle gear, graphic design posters, fiber optics, LED lights and more. 

Image left and right: Ernesto standing inside the computer classroom; a space designed to inspires students. Equipped with Apple computers, color changing LED lights, music, plants and wall art. 

Transcripts English

Raye Winch: Today we are speaking with Ernesto Somoza, a lifelong Tucsonan who is using his Creative Energy to harness the passion of his students. He teaches dual enrollment graphic design at Pima Community College and Pueblo High School. Ernesto, what are some of the most innovative things you are teaching in your class?

 

Ernesto: In my class, I've gone above and beyond to include 3D printing, laser engraving, and all kinds of innovative technology that is going to be the future.

 

Raye: That's amazing to have drones, 3D printers in a high school class. What impact do you think that access has on your students?

 

Ernesto: I believe when students are able to see their creations and like let's say Adobe Illustrator and then actually see it be cut laser cut into wood or 3D printed then that's when they're like, whoa, this is so cool and seeing students just get so like surprised with that. They're like, wow, I had no idea that you could even do this with graphic design. That excitement is what drives I believe my program and why I'm also so excited to teach this program.

 

Raye: You're involved in a lot outside of the classroom as well with many of the student clubs. Could you talk some about the clubs that you're involved in?

 

Ernesto: I'm the advisor of the technology Club. So it's called tech club. I'm also the advisor travel Club. I also have another club which is Road Warriors, which is our Cycling Club. So what I like about cycling classes it shows you like how To love your community and there's so many things about like being on the Loop. The Loop is like in the heart of Tucson and there's so many things that we're able to experience on the loop. And so many students are just like wow, I never even knew that this resource was here in Tucson. So sharing things like that with my students. I'm also the adviser of hiking Club. We've got to White Sands New Mexico. We have gone to the Grand Canyon a few times. We went to Plateau Point. It's just so much fun being able to share a lot of these experiences with students and showing them to love, not only Tucson, but showing them to love our Earth, showing them to love nature, and showing them just these, I believe, resources that they can use to calm themselves. And, the more that we connect with nature, the less we stress and I'm trying to share that with students.

 

Raye: You take your students to a very special place at Sabino Canyon. Could you tell us about that spot and why you take students about place in particular?

 

Ernesto: So, every year I take students to Sabino Canyon and I like to take them to a place really close to the Sabino Canyon Dam. And, the Sabino Canyon Dam is a place where the National Park Service came in and they dammed it, and now it's kind of changed. It used to just be a stream but you know, you have this like now dammed River. So, most people when they go to Sabino Canyon, they don't realize that Native Americans here in Tucson occupied that space. I think if you go to the visitor center, there is like maybe like a picture a couple pictures or to that talk about this. But I believe the National Park Service should be like saying like Native Americans, this was Native American land in this area. Native Americans actually had crops, they had a grinding mills and they had,not mills, but they had grinding stones. So I take my students and I show them the grinding stone and I tell them like, you know, like look at this and like see that like we came first. We've been here. So when like people tell us that like like you don't belong here or you don't belong in this country or you have people saying those types of things. It's really untrue because like we've been here as a culture for a long, long time. This is like a place where you can like come and like know that like, we have a place here. You are here and don't ever let anyone tell you that you don't belong.

 

Raye: Do you have any final messages you'd like to send out to Pueblo students and students everywhere?

 

Ernesto: I really highly recommend students to get involved. Get involved in their communities, get involved in their schools get involved just in general. Don't ever feel like like, ahh, I hate my community, I hate living over here. There are so many beautiful things in this little community, even especially like here at Pueblo as a micro-community, but like, as a big community, the City of South Tucson. It is gold where we live. Love the place that you live and get engaged and you can't go wrong.

Image Left: Ernesto Somoza, standing on a once vacant lot on the North Side of the Pueblo Hight School campus, where he helped to organize students and alumni to plant 19 new trees. Image Right: Ernesto showing off blisters earned while digging irrigation trenches for the newly planted trees. 

Transcripciones Español

Raye: Ernesto Somosa es un Tucsonense de toda la vida que está usando su energía creativa para aprovechar las pasiones de sus estudiantes. Se graduó de la Universidad de Arizona con una licenciatura en Bellas Artes. Y ahora enseña un curso de diseño gráfico de doble inscripción tanto en Pima Community College como en Pueblo High School. Ernesto, muchas gracias por estar hoy aquí con nosotros. 

 

Ernesto: Es un placer. 

 

Raye: Estás trayendo educación en tecnología y diseño gráfico de la más alta calidad al Pueblo. ¿Podría compartir con nuestros oyentes algunas de las cosas más innovadoras que está enseñando en su clase? 

 

Ernesto: En mi clase, he ido más allá para incluir impresión 3D, grabado láser y todo tipo de tecnología innovadora que será el futuro. 

 

Raye: Es sorprendente tener drones, impresoras 3D en una clase de secundaria. ¿Qué impacto cree que tiene el acceso en sus alumnos? 

 

Ernesto: Creo que cuando los estudiantes pueden ver sus creaciones en Adobe Illustrator y luego ver cómo se corta con láser en madera o se imprime en 3D y dicen, “Esto es tan genial,” y ver a los estudiantes simplemente quedar tan sorprendido con eso. Son como, guau, no tenía ninguna idea de que se pudiera hacer esto con diseño gráfico. Ese entusiasmo es lo que impulsa a creer en mi programa y por eso también estoy tan emocionado de enseñar este programa. 

 

Raye: También participas en muchas cosas fuera del aula con muchos de los clubes de estudiantes. ¿Podrías hablarnos de los clubes en los que estás involucrado? 

 

Ernesto: Soy el asesor del club de tecnología. Entonces se llama Club Tecnológico. También soy el asesor del Club de Viajes. También tengo otro club que es Road Warriors, que es nuestro Club de Ciclismo. Entonces, lo que me gusta de las clases de ciclismo es que te muestra cómo amar a tu comunidad. Hay tantas cosas para amar, como estar en el Loop. El Loop está en el corazón de Tucson y hay tantas cosas que podemos experimentar en el loop. Y tantos estudiantes están como guau, “Ni siquiera supe que este recurso estaba aquí en Tucson.” Entonces, comparto cosas así con mis alumnos. También soy consejero del Club de Senderismo. Fuimos a White Sands New Mexico. Hemos ido al Gran Cañón varias veces. Fuimos a Plateau Point. Es muy divertido poder compartir muchas de estas experiencias con los estudiantes y mostrarles que aman, no solo Tucson, sino mostrarles que aman nuestra tierra, mostrarles que aman la naturaleza y mostrarles estos recursos que pueden usar para calmarse. Y cuanto más nos conectamos con la naturaleza, menos nos estresamos y estoy tratando de compartir eso con los estudiantes. 

 

Raye: Lleva a sus estudiantes a un lugar muy especial en Sabino Canyon. ¿Podría hablarnos de ese lugar y por qué lleva a los estudiantes a ese lugar en particular? 

 

Ernesto: Entonces, todos los años llevo a los estudiantes a Sabino Canyon y me gusta llevarlos a un lugar muy cerca de la represa Sabino Canyon. Y la Presa de Sabino Canyon es un lugar donde entró el Servicio de Parques Nacionales y la represaron, y ahora ha cambiado un poco. Solía ​​ser solo un arroyo, pero ya sabes, tienes esto como ahora un río represado. Entonces, la mayoría de las personas cuando van a Sabino Canyon, no se dan cuenta de que los nativos americanos aquí en Tucson ocuparon ese espacio. Creo que si vas al centro de visitantes, hay como una foto, un par de fotos sobre esto. Pero creo que el Servicio de Parques Nacionales debería decir que esto era tierra de nativos americanos en esa área. Los nativos americanos en realidad tenían cosechas, tenían molinos y tenían, no molinos, pero tenían piedras para moler. Así que llevo a mis estudiantes y les muestro la piedra de moler y les digo, ya sabes, como miren esto y vean aquello como si fuéramos los primeros. Hemos estado aquí. Entonces, cuando la gente nos dice que no perteneces aquí o que no perteneces a este país o tienes gente que dice ese tipo de cosas. Es realmente falso porque hemos estado aquí como cultura durante mucho, mucho tiempo. Este es como un lugar donde te puede gustar venir y saber que tenemos un lugar aquí. Estás aquí y nunca dejes que nadie te diga que no perteneces. 

 

Raye: ¿Tiene algún mensaje final que le gustaría enviar a los estudiantes del Pueblo y a los estudiantes de todas partes? 

 

Ernesto: Realmente recomiendo a los estudiantes que se involucren. Involúcrate en tus comunidades, involúcrate en tus escuelas, involúcrate en general. Nunca te sientas como, “Ahh, odio a mi comunidad, odio vivir aquí.” Hay tantas cosas hermosas en esta pequeña comunidad,  aquí en Pueblo como microcomunidad, pero como, como gran comunidad, la Ciudad de South Tucson. Es oro donde vivimos. Ama el lugar donde vives y comprométete y no vas a equivocarte.

Ernesto Somoza in the classroom while being interviewed.

Ernesto Somoza inside his computer tech classroom at Pueblo High School. 

Image Left: Behind the scenes image of Marcel, project audio technician, during the interview with Ernesto.

Image Center: Behind the scenes image of Rachel, project photographer, taking portraits of Ernesto outside of Pueblo High School.

Image Right: Behind the scenes image of Raye, project interviewer, inside the computer tech classroom at Pueblo High school.