As Latinas with diverse biographies in and out of the university,1 we share a commitment to actively engage with all of our communities. As students and teachers, we are expected to leave our personal lives out of our "intellectual" workspaces, causing feelings of isolation and fragmentation (hooks, 1994). We are concerned with the ways we can maintain a sense of connection and wholeness for our well-being and that of our communities. Our collaboration with the National Latina Health Organization's (NLH0)2 Intergenerational Latina Health Leadership Project has enabled us to work toward this goal. This project provides a revolutionary model for holistic health education that includes university courses, regional conferences, community partnerships, and student internships. Together, these components offer an opportunity to participate in an integral educational experience that is aimed at co-creating the field of Latina health and dismantling a hierarchical model of teaching and learning.

In this chapter, we share our reflections about the project's successes and challenges and why we feel it has been a transformative experience for all involved. Having had numerous discussions as we developed the course, planned for conferences, and prepared public presentations, we found that these pláticas (intimate conversations, see Godinez this volume) have inspired some of the clearest articulations of our pedagogical theories and methods. So, following our commitment to integrate ways of knowing and teaching from in and out of academia, we have chosen to employ what in academia might be considered a nontraditional method to collectively write this article to be reflective of our dialogues (see Smith & Smith, 1983). We, Jennifer Ayala {JA) and Patricia Herrera (PH), co-instructors of the Hunter College course, Laura Jimenez (LJ), consultant and former Program Director of the NLBO's Intergenerational Latina Health Leadership Project, and Irene Lara (IL), co-instructor of the UC Berkeley course, held a series of bicoastal discussions from Fall 2001 to Spring 2003. The edited transcriptions of these telephone and e-mail discussions as well as the historical background of the project follow. Although the four of us are the co-authors, the creativity, determination, and commitment of many women have fueled the project and collaborative on both coasts. Muchas gracias hermanas (thank you sisters) for your commitment, faith, and work on this project.3

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Book Chapter

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Publisher Statement

Copyright © State University of New York Press. This chapter first appeared in Chicana/Latina Education in Everyday Life: Femenista Perspectives on Pedagogy and Epistemology .

Edited by: Dolores Delgado Bernal, C. Alejandra Elenes, Francisca E. Godinez, and Sofia Villenas

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