An educational Spanish language video series created specifically for Latino immigrants


Project History

Jennifer Horner, Director of the Southwest Iowa Latino Resource Center (Red Oak, IA), first envisioned ÉXITO EN EL NORTE in response to immigrant needs she encountered daily in her work. In 2000, she collaborated with Experience Education, a non-profit organization that designs and develops educational tools and resources for English and Spanish-speaking communities, to make this ten video/DVD series a reality. Iowa State University Extension also partnered with Experience Education and SWILRC throughout the filming and editing process. Learn more about our partnerships and collaborations on the Partners & Contributors page. Below, Jennifer shares more about the project’s history and development.

jenn and childer

How did ÉXITO EN EL NORTE come about?

After working directly with immigrants for over eight years, I realized there was a body of vital information that immigrants desperately needed -- information specific to Spanish-speaking immigrants living and working in the U.S. I thought, "If immigrants here in this small town were having these problems, unaware of how things worked, this must be the case in small towns and big cities everywhere. How could people be effectively reached with the information and resources they need?"

Working so closely with immigrants as the Director of the Southwest Iowa Latino Resource Center gave me the opportunity to get to know what the most important issues and informational needs were. It also gave me the chance to investigate and find solutions to some of the common concerns in the areas of taxes, housing, and employment -- the ten topics covered in the series. It is of utmost importance that immigrants have accurate information. I've heard so many stories about people being taken advantage of, or just not knowing where to go to find reliable information. There's a lot of confusion about what's "true," about what's reliable. People make decisions based on unreliable information, decisions that can have a long-lasting impact. Immigration status plays heavily into all of the topics. But one huge misconception everyone has--immigrants included--is that being undocumented means having no rights, being excluded from justice. The United States is a country literally of "justice for all." Just being here in the United States affords everyone certain rights. I want to make sure immigrants everywhere know that.

So why videos and DVDs?

Many immigrants coming here to the U.S. have not had access to much education. Many are escaping poverty. Many are minimally literate. I know first-hand that pamphlets and books are just not the right medium. These videos/DVDs present really relevant information and they don't ignore that a large portion of the audience will be undocumented. They are in Spanish, presented by native speakers. The information is presented in a friendly, professional, non-threatening way. It is important immigrants know what to expect, to know rights and responsibilities, and what to do if rights are violated. Fear rules many immigrants' lives. These videos aim to dispel some of this fear so that immigrants can take action and not be afraid of unknown consequences.

Who else contributed to ÉXITO EN EL NORTE?

My father, President of Experience Education, helped convince me that videos/DVDs were the best medium. He had already developed a successful formula for educational videos, having already produced a critically-acclaimed parenting series in Spanish. Luis Valdez had narrated the Families for Prevention series, and my father felt certain that this format and Luis’s contribution would also work with the vital topics presented in ÉXITO EN EL NORTE. One thing led to another and the pieces came together. Luis Valdez and Sandra Sanchez (AFSC Immigrants Voice Project) agreed to provide narration for the video/DVD series. Iowa State University Extension also joined in the partnership, providing funding, filming and editing services. Many Red Oak immigrants volunteered to be the talent for the series, agreeing to be filmed in everyday situations. They felt it was a way for them to "give back" to the Center and they were excited to be able to help other immigrants be more successful. Without everyone's willingness and cooperation, the project wouldn't have been possible.