By Mariana Arevalo, Class of 2026

Oftentimes, we are just existing rather than living without knowing the context and purpose of our duty in this world we call Earth. On June 6, 2022, I had the opportunity to attend the Museum of South Texas History in the city of Edinburg, TX. As I entered the museum, I thought it was like any other building in the Rio Grande Valley. I assumed I was going to reinforce my knowledge of the location’s history. However, I entered the experience open-minded and coachable. This trip made me realize that events and circumstances shape who we are in terms of personality and region. I remember my first impression of the museum and then realizing that it was more than just a building. The architecture and the gems hidden inside made it symbolic.

The tour guide explained to us each component of the museum in detail. What caught my attention the most was the tour guide’s passion for history and telling stories, as well as his emphasis on the importance of narrative and the influence of who had dominance over the media. A story must not be told only from one perspective. For instance, the conquest of South Texas should include both the thoughts of the indigenous people and of the outsiders; this helps us see both sides of a story.  This experience also helped me understand my location in Brownsville, TX. Perhaps I had viewed the Europeans who conquered the land as heroes; however, I realized the indigenous people played an essential role in cultivating the roots for the land we know today.

A quote at one of the exhibits by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca portrayed the people living in South Texas at the time he visited as people who value family the most over anything else. People living in my hometown, Brownsville, TX, as well as people living throughout South Texas, are most commonly Hispanics who share a culture of unison. This is why it is hard to leave the Valley. I have personally had a rough time not being near my family since I attend a university in another location. However, being away from my family only makes me value the time I spend with them even more.

After listening and making connections with the stories told in the exhibits, I can now appreciate my area more and I am called to action to keep learning and discovering the meaning of South Texas.

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