WashU undergrads partner with students at Tecnológico de Monterrey on podcasts


Video conferencing technology has enabled unexpected collaborations to emerge between scholars and students across international borders. Last fall, students in Tabea Alexa Linhard’s “Afterlives, Ghosts, and Haunted Places” seminar, a class that is part of the new undergraduate curriculum in Spanish, collaborated on a joint research project with students from the Tecnológico de Monterrey, Ciudad de México campus.

Linhard, professor of Spanish, global studies, and comparative literature, developed the collaborative assignment with her colleague Margaret Echenberg at the Tec de Monterrey. They were both teaching classes on literature and cultural studies that semester. Echenberg’s class in Mexico was entirely taught in English and focused primarily on the United States, while Linhard’s class, taught entirely in Spanish, centered on the Spanish-speaking world. They saw an unusual opportunity for students to work across linguistic and national borders on a shared project.

“We asked the students to produce short podcasts related to migration in the contemporary era,” said Linhard, whose current research also involves migration, but in the 1930s and 1940s.“While our courses weren’t entirely about migration, we each had a unit on that topic built into our courses already, and so we decided to focus our collaboration on stories that involved  migration.”

Ale Uriostegui, a junior majoring in Latin American studies and Spanish, was a student in Linhard’s seminar. She wrote a poem about her family’s experience with migration as part of the final project. 

“In our podcast episode, our group created a space to analyze immigration through anecdotes, literature, and policy. The project gave me the opportunity to reflect on my family’s immigration experience and share these reflections in a poem,” Uriostegui said. “The Global Classroom project illustrated the importance of approaching immigration through different lenses with different people, as every lens and person offers fruitful insight to spark discourse and provoke inquiries that lead to meaningful change.”

Linhard was introduced to Echenberg several years ago by a common friend, and when they last saw each other at a conference in Buenos Aires in 2019, they decided to collaborate, given that Tec de Monterrey is one of Washington University’s partner institutions in the McDonnell Scholars International Academy, which recruits top scholars from partner universities across the world and mentors them as they pursue graduate and professional degrees at WashU.

Their collaboration was further made possible by the Global Classroom initiative at the Tec de Monterrey. Modeled after similar programs at the State University of New York, the Global Classroom initiative provides faculty at the Tec de Monterrey with technological resources and training to partner with colleagues at a foreign university in designing a classroom experience.

“Not everything in the collaboration was flawless, but Margo and I were always more interested in the process than in the final product,” Linhard explained. “Coming up with a draft for the script, revising it, and recording it exposed the students to new and perhaps unexpected perspectives on migration. Moreover, the fact that WashU students worked in Spanish and Tec students in English meant that nobody was in their comfort zone, which ended up being a good learning environment for everybody.” 

“For me, what I liked best about the project, with all of its imperfections, was that it was completely and unapologetically bilingual and that it allowed the students to discuss migrations from ‘both sides of the border,’” said Linhard.