Aimee Preciado has been participating in her local Cinco de Mayo celebrations in McFarland, California for nearly a decade. She for a long time thought that the Mexican party celebrated the country’s independence.

“I just never really thought about it too much,” said Preciado, 17, a junior of Mexican-American descent at McFarland High School.

He learned more about the history and meaning of Cinco de Mayo when he watched a TikTok video posted by his world history teacher.

«So it’s May 5, 1862, also known as Cinco de Mayo, and the French are about to fool around and find out,» Lauren Cella, who teaches 10th-grade world history at McFarland High, said in a TikTok post that has since amassed more than 530,000 views. . In 1867, Mexico expels the French and [Emperor Maximilian] he died shot and Mexico remained independent. Questions?

Cella, 30, of Mexican, Puerto Rican and Chinese descent, has amassed more than 146,000 followers on TikTok for her content that explains world history through a Gen Z lens, including slang, expressions and references to pop culture and the latest trends. The video of her on Cinco de Mayo had generated more than 1,000 comments as of Thursday.

“You make this so much more interesting,” commented one TikTok user, while another said it was the first time in their 49-year life that they understood what Cinco de Mayo was all about. Another added how they «learned the most in a TikTok video that’s 2 minutes or less.» [compared] to a year of Latin American history class.”

Cinco de Mayo is often associated in the US with margaritas, beer, food, and cultural celebrations. But unlike Mexico’s Independence Day, which falls on September 16, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the triumph of the Mexican army over the French army—considered the strongest army in the world at the time—in the Battle of Puebla. on May 5, 1862. .

“There is such a lack of awareness in the United States about history, world history, especially other cultures or traditions,” Cella said. «Even among the Mexican community, I think there is still some confusion about the origin of Cinco de Mayo.»

Cinco de Mayo celebrations are actually much bigger in the United States than they are in Mexico. Over time, the holiday in the US evolved and became more commercial, as companies began promoting Cinco de Mayo in the 1980s and 1990s to reach more Latinos and other tequila and beer consumers.

Ties between the United States and Mexican history overlooked

The histories of Mexico and the United States are intertwined, and something that is often overlooked is the fact that it was General Ignacio Zaragosa, a Texan born in what is now Goliad, who led the Mexican forces to victory over the French.

“This fact should make Americans, especially Texans, very proud of their connection to that event,” Raul Ramos of the University of Houston told NBC News in 2016. “But it often doesn’t resonate. The Mexican aspect of Texas history has been so marginalized and ghettoized that it takes extra effort for people to learn about it.»

In Cella’s classroom, the majority of her students are Latino. When her students say they don’t particularly like the story, she takes it as a challenge. Cella’s presentations and lectures differ from her online TikTok videos in that they are more traditional and in-depth than the 60-second clips she posts. But she does occasionally use words that the younger students of hers identify with more.

Lauren Cella teaches a history lesson to her tenth graders.Courtesy of Lauren Cella

“The way children learn now with technology and their attention span, you have to be able to relate it. You have to be able to break it down and eventually the academic vocabulary will come along,” Cella said. “I have to keep up with all the jargon, culture and trends…even if I don’t want to. I’m surrounded by teenagers.»

“He said things in a tone that was easy for us to understand, easy to understand and didn’t bore us. Like, I’ve never been bored a day in his class,» Preciado said.

“She’s putting the story into Gen Z words, basically, you know; it is more attractive to us. We don’t want all the official stuff. We want more of the simple — the way she uses more of our slang, in a sense,” said Lucas Rodríguez, 17, a senior in her journalism elective class.

Cella said her students have found her TikTok videos and are her biggest fans. “I’m sure it’s so scary, but it’s okay, I just accept it. I am very, very lucky to have an amazing department and management that are very supportive of me.”

Most of the comments she gets online are actually from adults, she said, recounting how they didn’t learn or retain much history in school. She attributes learning failures to the pressure teachers face to meet state standards and tests.

Despite its efforts to offer relatable history lessons online, it has received some criticism from commentators who find its content too condensed.

“You can’t tell the whole story in 60 seconds. The goal is to arouse interest and understanding. And what I think is really cool, if you go to the comments, is that people will like to add things… They’re basically having this conversation, this class discussion in the comments section,” Cella said.

“I think the approach has obviously resonated with people on the Internet. And I’m really still very surprised that so many people care about the story and are excited about it, and it’s a lot of fun,” Cella said.