Snow

TALES FROM THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT:

NEH Summer Institute

A Summer Institute (Residential) for Secondary School Teachers (Grades 6–12) at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in collaboration with Center for Inter-American and Border Studies (CIBS) and Institute of Oral History (IOH)

July 16th – July 30th, 2023

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

2023 Summer Institute

Sections

Getting Ready
Attendance and Punctuality
Collaboration and Expectations
Expenses
Travel
Housing
Stipends
Continuing Education Credit
Family Questions
Readings and Content
Technology and Support
Additional Travel
Contacts
Applying in the Future (post after May 1, 2023)

 

Getting Ready

Q: What can I do now before the Summer Institute begins?

A: Plan ahead for the following: 

  1. introducing yourself to other Summer Scholars (teachers), 
  2. finishing your book-based readings before the Institute,
  3. planning what to see and do in El Paso, and
  4. sorting which items to bring as luggage. 

 

Q: How will Summer Scholars receive communications before the Institute begins?

A: The directors will be sending e-messages to all Summer Scholars via the e-mail addresses on file. Each Summer Scholar will be assigned to one of the directors for communications.

 

We will also have a Twitter account and announcements via Slack and a live feed on our home page. 

 

These will be our primary forms of communication and updates. Telephone communications will be an option when necessary. 

 

Q: Will there be any media announcements on my acceptance?

A: Yes, we will be sending out an electronic press release to your school district in early May 2023. You’ll receive a copy of the media communication to distribute as well.  

 

Q: What is the best way to plan to live for two weeks in El Paso?

A: It will be hot. Dress accordingly. Sunscreen is highly recommended as is a large reusable water bottle. 

 

Q: Do I need to make my own travel arrangements? 

A: Yes. We prepared some suggestions below. 

 

Q: When should I plan to arrive in El Paso and to be on the UTEP campus? 

A: Plan your airline or car travel arrangements now to ARRIVE on Sunday, July 16th, 2023. 

 

Consider the following before making your travel reservations and itineraries:

 

  1. Arrive in El Paso on Sunday, July 16th, 2023, BEFORE 3:00 PM Mountain Time. We have a welcome with drinks and light appetizers that is scheduled to begin promptly at 5:30 PM.

 

  1. Make sure you’ve booked your flight early to get the best possible fare. 

 

Q: When should I plan to depart from El Paso? 

A: Plan your flight reservation now to DEPART on Sunday morning, July 30th, 2023. 

 

Consider the following before making your travel reservations and itineraries:

 

  1. Saturday is not an option for departure, since we have an evening program scheduled on Sat., July 29th. 

 

  1. Depart on Sunday morning, July 30th. We will not have any scheduled programming that day. 

 

Q: What’s the best way to get to the UTEP Miner Canyon (housing site) from the El Paso International Airport (ELP)?

A: We recommend Über or Lyft, which get positive feedback in El Paso. The taxi service and Sun Metro local transit systems are also options.

 

Q: My brain is feeling slightly fried already. I am trying to rewire my brain, so I can enjoy the Institute, too. Is this possible?

A: Yes. Take deep breaths. This will be fun. 

 

Q: Who is sending and answering these FAQs?

A: Summer Scholars and faculty are sending and answering these. 

 

Q: What about travel and health insurance? 

A: You are responsible for purchasing any added health or travel insurance prior to your travel to El Paso. 

 

Attendance and Punctuality

Q: Am I supposed to be present for Institute meetings and proceedings?

A: Yes. You are expected to attend every class meeting of the Institute. Exceptions will be made only in cases of illness or other major events.

 

Q: Are the field trips mandatory?

A: All Summer Scholars must attend the field trips unless they’re noted as optional. Exceptions will be made only in cases of illness or other major events.

 

Q: Can I receive my full stipend even if I am absent and non-participatory without completing the e-portfolio (lesson plan with components)? 

A: No. Stipend payments will be based on attendance in the Institute, participation during the Institute, and completion of the e-portfolio

 

The stipend will be paid in full following completion of the Summer Institute and in Aug. 2023. 

 

Plan to have access to funds of your own for spending while in the Institute.

 

Q: What happens if I can’t make it to class?

A: You are expected to attend every class. Exceptions will be made only in cases of illness or other major events.

 

Q: What does an Institute day look like?

A: Each class day will be guided by an essential question that will be answered by the Summer Scholars, faculty, and lecturers through the journaling, readings, artifacts, and field site visits (field trips). 

 

Collaborative learning is our goal and practice. Your own understanding will be complemented by the faculty and lecturers’ expertise.

 

Summer Scholars will be in learning pods of up to three to four educators. Although all Summer Scholars are responsible for completing journaling and readings, specific themes will be assigned to each pod. We expect to have about 6 to 7 pods. 

 

Summer Scholars will work collaboratively and will launch the conversation based on the prior days experiences and assigned readings at the beginning of either the morning or afternoon sessions.

 

Next, the faculty and lecturers will continue the conversation on the theme and concepts toward answering the essential question of the day. 

 

This format works well with the ownership of concepts and interpretation of the readings with expertise from scholars (faculty and lecturers) who are active researchers and educators in the discipline.

 

Collaboration and Expectations

Q: At my current school, I work collaborative with several teachers and administrators. Would this be possible in our Institute?

A: Yes, collaboration is essential. We are stronger in our teaching, research, and leadership through collaboration and cooperation. 

 

We will model cooperative and collaborative learning each day. We will work together to build more bridges of communication for teaching, learning, and fun. 

 

Q: I get along with everybody, until somebody presses my buttons. What can I do to plan ahead?

A: Before and during the Institute, be mindful and maintain awareness as an educator, learner, listener, and presenter in the presence of our colleagues who will be Summer Scholars, faculty, lecturers, and Institute administrators and supporters. 

 

A central part of the Institute experience is participation and the exchange of ideas. However, disagreements will arise, for which a high degree of respect for the ideas of others is expected from everyone. 

 

Remain mindful and also compassionate and respectful with courteous treatment and regard for fellow scholars, university personnel, and community members. The concepts, themes, and topics under study can become debatable and political regardless of political affiliation or interests. 

Each of us is responsible for following and upstanding the Principles of Civility for NEH Seminars, Institutes, and Workshops.

 

Following the Principles will allow for a significant learning experience where diverse interests, ideas, and experiences will expand the scope and sum of knowledge. Some of the topics of discussion will be of a sensitive nature (politics, politics, sexuality, etc.) and may invoke individual experiences. 

 

We will also visit sites with varying interpretations about the chronicled history. We will meet people who may have opposing political views. We are a community of scholars and as such we are expected to distinguish opinion from argument. 

 

Thus, we will be nudged to think differently and to challenge ourselves and others about specific concepts, ideas, and perspectives we may hold that can directly influence our students’ thinking and lives in the schools and communities where we work and live.

 

Q: Will we establish Institute expectations as Summer Scholars, so we are in mutual agreement about our responsibilities?

A: Yes. Plan on this to occur our first two days of the Institute. 

 

Q: I’d like to have some personal conversations and maybe some autographs. Will we have one-on-one time with the faculty and lecturers?

A: Yes. We have scheduled time to engage with the faculty and lecturers for your own growth and interests. 

 

Q: Will we have a chance to give feedback on the Institute after a few days of experiencing it?

A: Yes. We will conduct a brief survey. Based on feedback, count on the directors to: 

  1. make any adjustment where possible, 
  2. change course as needed, and 
  3. inform you if policies have our hands tied as directors.

 

Expenses

Q: Do I have to buy any textbooks or other materials for the Institute? 

A: No. The Institute will cover the cost of your books as well as any fees to museums, performances, and historical sites. 

 

In an effort to be environmentally conscious and cut down on paper waste, we also encourage Summer Scholars to read any articles or essays on their devices, laptops, machines, or iPads. 

 

Q: What expenses can I expect to incur while in El Paso, including transportation and meals?

A: El Paso is a relatively inexpensive city. There is a newly minted Streetcar operated by Sun Metro, the local transit system. Sun Metro provides a reliable bus system that can take you most anywhere in El Paso. 

 

Taxis are a bit more expensive and sometimes unreliable for pickup, so Über may be a better alternative. 

 

Food is cheap, depending on where you eat. In the vicinity of the University, expect to spend anywhere from $8.00 – $24.00 for dinner.   

 

Q: Is there an estimated sheet of expenses I can incur while in El Paso?

A: Yes. Click here [insert link here] to review it.

 

Travel

Q: When should I plan to arrive?

A: Plan your airline or car travel arrangements now to ARRIVE on Sunday, July 16th, 2023 and BEFORE 3:00 PM. 

 

Consider the following before making your travel reservations and itineraries:

 

  1. Arrive in El Paso on Sunday, July 16th, 2023, BEFORE 3:00 PM Mountain Time. We have a welcome with drinks and light appetizers that is scheduled to begin promptly at 5:30 PM.

 

  1. Make sure you’ve booked your flight early to get the best possible fare. 

 

Q: When should I plan for my departure?

A: Plan your flight reservation now to DEPART on Sunday morning, July 30th, 2019. 

 

Consider the following before making your travel reservations and itineraries:

 

  1. Saturday is not an option for departure, since we have an evening program scheduled on Sat., July 29th. 

 

  1. Depart on Sunday morning, July 30th. We will not have any scheduled programming that day. 

 

Housing

Q: Is there an application form for housing at the UTEP Miner Village?

A: Yes. The application form will be provided to you via e-mail in early June 2023.

 

Q: When is the application deadline to request UTEP housing

A: The deadline is June 25, 2023.

 

Q: Has the housing location been identified already, or is it too soon to know? 

A: The housing site is likely to be Miner Canyon, which was our residence in July 2017 for our inaugural Summer Institute and in July 2019. 

 

Q: How much is housing at Miner Canyon?

A: Lodging at the UTEP Miner Canyon, which is located at 3490 Sun Bowl Drive, El Paso, TX 79902, will cost about $30.00 a night. With our calculation, $40 per night X 14 nights = $560.00. 

 

Q: Am I required to apply for UTEP housing for the duration of the 2023 Summer Institute?

A: Yes, you are strongly encouraged to choose UTEP housing, so we build community and engagement as Summer Scholars and with the Institute team.

 

Q: Will I have a roommate? 

A: Yes. All apartments are designed to house two individuals. Each apartment has two separate bedrooms, a shared bathroom, kitchen, and living area. 

 

Individual housing is available at a higher cost.

 

The housing administrator will make every effort pair roommates by gender. 

 

Q: Can I request a single apartment?

A: This may be a possibility. Include this in your UTEP Department of Housing and Residence Life application.

 

Q: What is included in my stay at the UTEP Miner Canyon?

A: It will be a furnished apartment with the following (note that meals, utensils, and cooking items are not included):

  1. Full kitchen (without pots, pans, and utensils)
  2. Semi-private bath
  3. Wireless internet
  4. Refrigerated air conditioning
  5. Linen
  6. Free parking with guest parking
  7. Parking permit

 

Stipends

Q: How much of my stipend should I plan on spending before I receive it?

A: Plan your travel now and expect to pay yourself back once you receive the payment of your stipend in Aug. 2023. Bring spending funds in case there are any delays with payroll based on your document submission and processing.

 

Q: Other than tax deductions from the $2200, will there be any other deductions?

A: We will automatically deduct the UTEP Housing amount for a two-week period. 

 

Q: Are there payroll documents to complete for my stipend?

A: Yes. You will receive these e-forms for completion by June 1st, and you will be required to return the completed e-forms to our Institute administrator. We will send an e-mail message to you by May 25th, 2023.

 

Q: Can I receive my full stipend even if I am absent or non-participatory? 

A: No. Stipend payments will be based on attendance in the Institute, participation during the Institute, and completion of the e-portfolio. 

 

Plan to have spending funds should there be any delays with your document submission an procession.

 

Q: Is there a bank nearby to deposit my stipend checks?

A: Yes. A few banks are nearby and within walking distance from our campus. Wells Fargo has an agreement with UTEP with a few ATMs on campus. A Wells Fargo branch office is located two blocks away from the UTEP Student Union. 

 

Continuing Education Units

Q: Can I get continuing education units for attending the Summer Institute?

A: Yes. The Extended University, Office of Professional and Public Programs, at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) offers CEUs that Scholars can earn through participation in the institute. 

 

More information about signing up for CEUs will be provided upon acceptance to the Institute.

 

Family Questions

Q: I’ve been accepted. Can my family and/or spouse come along?

A: This program encourages interaction among a group of NEH Scholars. While your family and/or spouse may come to El Paso while you are participating in the Institute, the NEH does not allow non-participants to attend sessions or go on excursions.

 

Readings and Content

Q: Where can I get access to the readings?

A: All the readings will be posted electronically on the Institute web page. They will be downloadable as of June 20th, 2023.

 

Three books, which are required reading, will be shipped to you, via US Postal Service, in late May 2023.

 

Q: Do I need to read EVERYthing?

A: We recommend completing all the required readings. You may wish to skim and scan the recommended readings and based on your disciplinary interest. 

 

Q: Is this Institute structured primarily for teachers of West Texas?

A: No. Though the borderlands histories and narratives of the greater Chihuahuan Desert are our primary case study, we have chosen the topics and readings for the Institute so that they might deepen an understanding of diverse communities. 

 

Summer Scholars are also encouraged to bring to the Institute literary, historical texts about identity and binational experiences in their own regions of the country. This can expand our dialogue. 

 

Technology and Support

Q: Should I bring my own laptop and other devices?

A: You will have access to a computer laboratory outside of the classroom sessions. It is, however, advisable that you bring your own laptop or iPad for daily usage. 

 

Q: Are there additional roaming or international fees for my phone carrier by being so close to another country?

A: Check with your carrier beforehand.  

 

Q: Will there be Wi-Fi access?

A: Yes.

 

Q: What are the e-portfolios?

A: The e-portfolio projects, housed in a Web platform and named Tales from the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands: A Humanities Archive, will be lesson plans or units OR a multimodal essays with a summary of what each Summer Scholar learned about a concept presented and that is most applicable in his or her individual secondary classroom, grades 6–12. 

 

A template will be provided and the e-portfolio must be completed to earn your stipend.

 

Q: What will be in my e-portfolio?

A: Each participant will create a minimum of two lesson plans or a unit plan using materials from the Institute. 

 

Summer Scholars will use the resources on the project Web site along with resources and writings compiled through the e-portfolio Web site to transform their Institute experience into an e-product.

The e-portfolio will be directly applicable to the Summer Scholars’ teaching and for other teachers to adopt and use.

 

Q: What will happen to my e-portfolio after it goes live online?

A: After the Institute, the Summer Scholars’ individual e-portfolio projects will be posted to UTEP Tales from the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands: A Humanities Archive. 

 

Based on permissions, the e-portfolio based projects will be made available to Summer Scholars and interested teachers nationwide beyond the Institute period.

 

Q: What support can I expect from the Center for Faculty Leadership and Development team?

A: The e-portfolios to be developed by the Summer Scholars will be managed on a platform in consultation with the UTEP Center for Faculty Leadership and Development team (CFLD).  

 

The CFLD team members will be present in the assigned laboratory during specific time periods, although it is the individual Summer Scholar’s responsibility to develop the content of the lesson plans and to make sure the content corresponds to state or national standards in your discipline, content area, or subject.

 

Q: Will there be time to work on my e-portfolio during the two-week Institute?

A: Yes. All Summer Scholars will have three to four hours to work on the e-portfolio each day with additional time available during the two-week period. 

 

Q: Can I begin working on my e-portfolio now?

A: Yes, you may begin thinking about an essential question and using the readings you received to begin brainstorming and planning. 

 

Additional Travel 

Q: Are we allowed to travel to Ciudad Juárez, México?

A: NEH is not responsible for incidents that may occur if you choose to cross into México. 

 

There are no travel restrictions into Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. However, parts of the city remain dangerous for residents and travelers. 

 

If you wish to travel into México be aware that a U.S. Passport or Passport Card is required.

 

Contacts

Q: How do I reach Drs. Ignacio Martínez and R. Joseph Rodríguez, the Institute directors?

A: You may send us e-messages to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

For any urgent questions, our cell phone numbers will be provided in early June 2023. 

 

Q: How often are the Institute web pages updated?

A: In the weeks ahead and until the Institute begins, we will update these web pages once a week. 

 

A date on the last update will be provided as a reference for the reader. 

 

Q: I found out about your program after the deadline. Can I still apply?

A: Unfortunately, no. For us to consider your application, it must be submitted electronically by the deadline date, which is final.

 

Q: If I’m not a classroom teacher, can I still apply? OR I teach abroad, can I still apply?

A: According to the NEH website, full-time teachers in US K–12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Institutes. 

 

For more information, please read the “Application Process” page.

 

Q: How many Summer Institutes can I apply to?

A: You may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (Seminars, Institutes, or Landmarks Workshops) per year, and you may attend only one. Once you accept a program’s offer, you may not withdraw your acceptance to switch to another NEH Summer Seminar, Institute, or Landmarks Workshop.

 

Q: Can more than one person from my school apply?

A: Yes.

 

Q: I’m a graduate student who wants to pursue a career in 6th – 12 teaching. Can I apply?

A: Yes. The program accepts new and beginning teachers to the field.

 

Q: How will I be notified if I am accepted?

A:  All applicants, whether accepted, waitlisted, or rejected, will be informed by email on a date set by the NEH (April 3, 2023). We also call all accepted applicants. 

 

If your email address or phone number has changed since you applied on the NEH website, please let us know so we can update our records. Accepted applicants will have until April 14, 2023 to accept or decline the offer.