Culture makes the world go around. Discussing it opens minds and broadens horizons. Experiencing different cultures adds value to learning about them, something which motivates Hector Agredano.
Agredano is in his second year at PCC as a full time geography instructor. He teaches geographic information systems (GIS), the technical component of the field, which involves drones, remote sensing, cartography and data analysis.
In a two-person faculty team, he and Brennan Wallace, director of PCC’s GIS program, each have unique skill sets that complement each other and the geography department. And for the time being, they share a small office.
“He’s kind of naturally more artistic than I am,” Wallace said. Artistry is important to the GIS cartography course taught by Agredano. Good maps need to balance form and function. Good stories help bring maps to life.
“We work very collaboratively,” Agredano said, outside of their tiny office, where the backs of their chairs can easily hit each other. “We joke that it’s like a bunk.”
Agredano particularly enjoys bringing the world of cultural geography to his students in GEOG 002, where the class benefits from his undergraduate experience at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC).
“That school is different … I feel like my students are looking for that,” Agredano explained, drawing a respectful comparison of the nurturing personality of UCSC to its larger, buttoned-up sibling, UC Berkeley, about 75 miles away. Neighbors, geographically speaking, in Northern California.
One of the teaching tools Agredano values is the Culture Box.
“That’s a way to validate students who might feel that they’re not so in touch, or might not be so interested in being in touch with an ethnic or national culture,” Agredano explained.
This activity allows students to define, share and connect with others. In this way, students understand culture as a mix of ethnic or national background with pop culture preferences, subculture identification, objects and ideas.
With this as a first-week activity in class, Agredano establishes a welcoming environment for learning and camaraderie among his students. This inclusive approach to culture and individuals is key to his teaching style and what he wants his students to take away from class.
“It gives you a very broad menu of options and then I like to take things in a specific direction,” Agredano said. “The classes allow me to bring in elements, and to update them too, which is good.”
The exchange of ideas in class is also an interactive endeavor which he encourages.
“Students here care, and if they care, it makes you care. And if they see that you care, there’s a good connection there,” Agredano said.
Agredano is also freshman member of PCC’s Academic Senate. He is happy with what this appointment will add to his teaching responsibilities.
“The senate is part of that joint governance,” Agredano said of the relationship between administration and faculty. “You also provide service hours to the college and to your community.”
As PCC settles in with new Superintendent-President Erika Endrijonas, the Senate has a fresh start.
“Consistency is good, and stability is good, especially at those top posts,” Agredano said, looking forward to participating in leadership and moving the college forward.
He has experienced life traveling and spending important formative years in pivotal times in Northern California and New York City for his graduate work and where he began his career as an educator. In 2011, he witnessed the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York during the ongoing aftermath of the 2008 U.S. economic recession.
He brings his New York experience to the classroom as a real-life example of human geography. This is what he enjoys teaching in GEOG 002; how everyday activities of individuals, cultures, corporate interests, government institutions and politics combine to shape the human experience. Meanwhile, Agredano’s life and times have given him a deeply personal perspective.
“I am a person of principles, and my principles are a compass that I use to guide me,” Agredano said. “I’m thankful for where I am, and to those who helped me be here.”
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