CCE Instructor Profile: Learning about Puerto Rican culture with Kathy Rodríguez

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Monday, September 26th, 2022

Do you love arts and crafts and want to learn more about Puerto Rican culture? This fall, PCA&D is offering a variety of classes taught by Kathy Rodríguez. Intergenerational Studio: Ages 13-Adult – Vejigante Masks on Tuesdays starting October 4; Exploring Puerto Rico – Taino-Inspired Arts and Crafts: Grades 1-3 on Saturdays starting October 29; Homeschool Art Studio: Grades 1-5 on Wednesdays starting October 12. 

Rodríguez is a proud Puerto Rican Latina who lives in Lancaster. She works with PCA&D and with York’s Appell Center for the Performing Arts/Cultural Alliance to create unique, fun, and theatrical workshops for children and families. She is also a co-founder and company member of Teatro Paloma, Lancaster’s only Latinx theatre company, where she helps create shows and performances in the community. We asked Rodríguez to share a bit more about herself and her various courses this fall.

Can you tell us a little about your interests and classes this fall?

Kathy Rodríguez: Yes! I love creating unique classes where people can learn something new, like a fact or an art technique that is being forgotten. I especially have a focus in theater and Latinx themes. I have three workshops coming up this fall, two of which are a part of my “Exploring Puerto Rico” series!

The first is my two-day Intergenerational Vejigante Mask Making Workshop, here participants ages 13 and up can learn about Puerto Rican Vejigante masks and make their own! The second one of the series this fall is my two-day Taíno-inspired Arts and Crafts Class for Grades 1-3! Kids will get to learn about the Taínos of Puerto Rico and the culture. I have some cool crafts lined up like rock painting, clay pot making and fossil making. I’m also Hosting a three-day Workshop: Homeschool Art Studios-Grades 1-5, where parents can sign up their children to make different arts and crafts using recycled and natural materials!

What are you most excited about for these classes?

KR: I’m excited to create settings and opportunities for Boricua and Latinx children to learn more about their roots and history. I hope to help create a sense of pride and belonging in them. I also hope for all kids and families to learn something new that they could take away with them to continue to create and teach others.

What are some of the most important takeaways that prospective students should know about your classes?

KR: My goal during the classes is for each child to feel seen and for families to create unforgettable experiences together. You will always leave feeling like you learned something new and had fun!

What is your creative process and what will be your approach to teaching these courses? (What are you hoping to teach!)

KR: When I first think of an idea for a class or activity event, the first thing I think of is, “What is something that me and my friends wished we could have had as children?” Another form of this question I ask myself is “What is something we lacked or never got to learn?” Then it’s like a Google search goes off in my mind and I make a list! I take those ideas and work with PCA&D’s Center for Creative Exploration until we have a class. I am very intentional in the classroom and also love teaching with soft or upbeat music. I believe identity is important and try to teach that in all my classes as well. In the future, I hope to add more intergenerational classes and hope to explore different Latinx and theatrical themes.

What do you think the benefit of having an Intergenerational class is?

KR: The most important benefit to me is that participants have the opportunity to learn and partake in an experience within the classroom together as a FAMILY. Whether it’s a grandparent or a sibling, all can join in on the fun! I think it also gives opportunities to those in the older generations to do things they have never done before while having the option to not have to do it alone! 

What do you do for fun when you’re not teaching/working?

KR: Outside of PCA&D, I like to act with different theater companies in Lancaster and create shows with Teatro Paloma! I also like making videos for my TikTok channel, @Kati_la_dramati