Wednesday, May 31, 2023

MEDIA ADVISORY: Aztech Kidz Code 3rd Annual Summer Camp—an Initiative of Academia Cuauhtli—Begins Soon!

Students, Friends & Colleagues:

Yes, the legislative session was devastating in so many ways and on so many levels. Hopefully, most of us still have an awesome life outside of the legislature where God's work is still getting done.

Accordingly, a number of you have followed our local community work at Academia Cuauhtli in Austin, Texas. Academia For the last couple of Summers, we have held our marvelous Aztech Kidz Code Summer Camp (see Press Advisory below).

Todos mis respetos, much respect, to founder Azteca Sirias, as well as to project manager, Maria Unda, who is a doctoral student in our Education Policy and Planning program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. Same for all our outstanding teachers shown in the photo below.

Seated left to right: Dr. Chris Milk, Santiago Sirias Angel, Azteca Sirias, Drs. Angela Valenzuela and Emilio Zamora, Maria Unda, Jenna Jacob. Katya Guzman, Irving Maldonado Salinas, and Mario Ramirez.

In its third year of existence—and with significant help from the City of Austin—AKC will serve over 180 students in three, 3-week summer programs throughout the summer, serving mostly immigrant, working class children in the district’s bilingual/dual language program. 

A few extra shout outs to Katya Guzmán, our newly-hired, full-time Academia Cuauhtli Coordinator, ESB-MACC Culture and Arts Manager Michelle Rojas, Division Manager of the Museums and Cultural Programs Division for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department Laura Esparza, and AISD Superintendent Matías Segura and his many amazing staff, together with Yvette Cardenas and Cody Fernandez in the AISD Multilingual Department.

At the city level, special thanks to City Council Members Vanessa Fuentes and Chito Vela for their incredible support for everything Cuauhtli.

Abundant thanks, as well, to Gerardo Gandy and our many friends at Gensler Architects for your books donation and our budding partnership. Last, but not least, abundant thanks to both Dr. Victor Saenz and UT College of Education Dean Charles Martinez for supporting our efforts over the years. It definitely takes a village.

Like us on Facebook and treat yourselves to this explanation of "Non-Fungible Tokens," or NFT’s, by Azteca Sirias here

Geez, I need to take this class! Just listening to this makes me feel both excited and lost. This, despite our young people being more than ready for this AP preparatory, Computer Science curriculum. 

Academia Cuauhtli and AKC come out of the Ethnic Studies Movement, the latter of which tends to focus on secondary and college level teaching, instruction, and curriculum development. Given this lack of focus on children and adolescents, both our regular and Summer programming helps fill this yawning gap. 

My heart is full.                                                                                                                                                                

-Angela Valenzuela

P.S. Emilio and I will be with another Academia Cuauhtli initiative, namely, La Colaborativa Cuauhtli—this June in Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico. Thanks to funding support from LILLAS at UT, we are bridging our work involving Central Texas bilingual/dual language education teachers with an initiative of the University of Arizona Tucson. Specifically, Emilio and I are this years' Richard Ruiz Scholars in Residence at Resplandor International, a special needs rural school for the rural children of  Guanajuato, GTO. Thanks to University of Arizona Professor Emeritus, Dr. Todd Fletcher, for honoring us with this invitation. More to come soon on La Colaborativa Cuauhtli.




May 31, 2023 


CONTACT: María Del Carmen Unda


Austin, Texas - On June 5th, 2023, Academia Cuauhtli, the Austin Independent School District, and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center are hosting its third Aztech Kidz Code Summer Camp. As an initiative of Academia Cuauhtli, the camp consists of three, three-week camps serving 180 Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o low-income youth in the district’s bilingual/dual language education program. Youth of all ages will learn about coding, blockchain, gaming, and Artificial Intelligence, much of this from an Indigenous perspective that additionally involves Aztec ceremony and ancestral funds of knowledge. 

Azteca Sirias, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and founder of Aztech Kidz Code, expresses the following, “Indigenous pedagogies are a vital component of computer science education for our communities. By teaching about the rich algorithmic history and culture of our ancestors, we can help them to see themselves in the field and to develop a sense of belonging. It is also important for kids at 1-8th grades to be exposed to current technology trends because it helps them develop critical thinking skills, engage in the expanding tech landscape of Austin, and integrate positive forms of transformation in their everyday lives.”

Managed by Dr. María Del Carmen Unda, the camp takes place at Sanchez Elementary School and is offered bilingually in English and Spanish. With funding support from the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, Academia Cuauhtli co-founder Dr. Angela Valenzuela expresses, “There is tremendous demand in our city for exactly this kind of free, Summer programming for low-income, mostly immigrant youth who otherwise would not have access to opportunities like this. We are so grateful to our partners, and most especially to our staff and teachers, for carrying out this beautiful vision that merges the modern and postmodern with the ancient ancestral knowledge.”

We invite the press and public to any of the three following graduation ceremonies we are holding this Summer where we will engage in both ceremony and a sharing of the students’ creations as follows: Saturday, June 24; Saturday, July 15, and Saturday, August 5, 2023.