UC Links Statewide Office on the Road - Y-PLAN program visit in San Jose

April 7, 2022

On Friday March 18, 2022 the UC Links Statewide Office (John, Karla, and Mara) was able to make an in-person visit to Escuela Popular, a PreK-12th grade bilingual charter school founded on the teaching principles of Paulo Freire in 1986 by the current director’s mother! (you can’t make this up!!) The school is located in East San Jose, and hosts an intergenerational Y-PLAN action research project connecting the school, the San Jose State University Department of Child and Adolescent Development, and the San Jose Department of Transportation.

Check out our new two minute video field note!

Youth - Plan Learn Act Now! (Y-PLAN) - San Jose State University

Site location:Escuela Popular - bilingual PreK-12 charter school, East San Jose

Partners:Escuela Popular, San Jose State University Department of Child and Adolescent Development, San Jose Department of Transportation

Number of students: 29 8th graders

Number of graduate/undergraduate students: 1

Beginning last fall (2021), partners came together to improve the traffic corridor where Escuela Popular is located, as part of a city wide initiative, and address the question: “How can we make White Rd. safer for pedestrians?”  This blog post shares more details about the initiative and the related activity.

On the day we visited, all of the project participants were getting outside the classroom and going for a walk down White Rd., observing and taking note of the surroundings. Youth were given background information on the city street redesign process along with city planner words because they are learning to talk like planners. Some questions that were at the forefront of this expedition were: How can this street be made safer? Would a pedestrian island make it easier to cross? Do you want more visibility? How would you feel walking at night?

We're trying a new video field note format and I (Karla) created a brief two minute video providing an overview of our visit and the day's activities. We'd love to hear your reactions!


This in-person site visit was exciting for various reasons, one of them being the ability to come together in a physical classroom as we transition from strict pandemic protocols. It was nice to be able to see and hear youth as they played basketball or walked to class to begin their academic day. We were also able to hear a lot of Spanish being used as the students communicated with one another. Another nice aspect I (John) was able to see in action during this visit, was how cultural associations and connections were made by some of the students Karla and I had the opportunity to talk to—for instance, some students compared how street signals and traffic regulations work in their hometowns in Latin America. Finally, from my (Mara’s) perspective, the importance of a shared language was very clear to me. The students seemed more at ease when able to communicate in Spanish. I was definitely at a loss for communicating and connecting easily with the 8th graders. In contrast, and as noted above, by the time we were leaving, John and Karla (both native Spanish speakers) were calling out to students in the class, talking about their home countries (Colombia & Mexico) and other connections they had made :)