Nazario immigration discussion to tie in with revitalized minor


Jessica Guerrucci Managing Editor
Tamonda GriffithsEditor-in-Chief

With the intent of creating a broader conversation about immigration, Sonia Nazario’s arrival on campus is one that Carmen Coury said she hopes will encourage students to think about their role as citizens and the U.S.’s role within the broader hemisphere.

“I’m also hoping this experience will help them understand immigrants and refugees as human beings and recognize some of the push and pull factors that are driving migration,” said Coury, assistant professor of history. Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Sonia Nazario, will be a featured speaker on Nov. 13.

Her arrival comes in time for Social Justice Month where she will discuss her book “Enrique’s Journey: The story of a boy’s dangerous odyssey to reunite with his mother.”

The event, which was organized by the Latin American and Caribbean studies program, chose to host her during the time that William Faraclas, the director of the program, said the university was trying to revitalize the Latin American and Caribbean studies minor.

“By taking a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies,” said Faraclas, “they will learn about culture, they will learn about history, and they will bring to their work, whether it’s in education, human services, public health, nursing, social work, they’ll bring the strength to understand people who are different from them.”

The minor was previously available to students, but Faraclas said they had not done a lot to promote the program and people were unaware that it existed. As a result, he said Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bruce Kalk, put a committee together to revitalize the program and to give it strength and relevance. The issue of immigration which Nazario will discuss, is one Faraclas said ties in closely with the Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor.

“Immigration is just a current issue right now that is on the agenda of the American people,” said Faraclas. “It naturally ties into Latin American and Caribbean studies because there are many people who are coming from that part of the world, Latin America in particular, either to find sanctuary or a safe haven.”

Additionally, in preparation for the arrival of Nazario, faculty members and students from the education, history and social work departments, in collaboration with Tina Re, librarian of Arts and Special Collections, will be creating an artists’ book to present to Nazario as a gift.

“What artists’ books are, are books in the form of a work of art,” said Re.

When people think of artists’ books, Re said they think of a coffee table catalog of works from a specific well-known artist. Re said she was approached by the Latin American and Caribbean studies planning committee to not only come up with an idea for a book, but also to include as many departments as she could manage. Through text and images, students are being asked to explore the plight of the people affected by contemporary U.S. immigration policies, the historic implications of U.S.-Latin American relations in the 20th century, and their reactions to the major themes in the book, Enrique’s Journey.

“I have been working with selected social work and history classes on artists’ books,” said Re. “Students are making their own pages and collages for the books and some of their pages will be incorporated into the ‘long book’ for display during the event as well as a book to be gifted to
Sonia Nazario.”

One of the classes involved in putting together the artist book was Coury’s History 309 class, Issues in Global History. She said the experience has allowed students to be creative and it encourages them to push themselves while also having fun.

In Coury’s class, she said students have read Naziaro’s book, “Enrique’s Journey” and have been looking at immigration from a wider historical lens and understanding a broader U.S. and Latin American relationship.

“When we look at the region historically,” said Coury, “and we consider the region from a western hemisphere perspective, we must recognize the role of the United States in creating those conditions of instability.” \

By learning about the topic of immigration
and through Nazario’s talk, students will have the opportunity to better understand the immigration dilemma, one that Coury said people generally have little understanding of how the U.S. created conditions for.

By learning about the immigration issue, Faraclas said “to know is to understand,” he and said it is hard to understand Latin America and the Caribbean without being educated about it or experiencing it firsthand. However, he said he hopes Nazario will humanize the issue.

“She’s going to speak authoritatively about a subject that is on all of our minds,” said Faraclas. “It’s really hard to escape that debate. It goes on around us and there’s a lot of misinformation and a lot of opinion that gets thrown around, but I think Sonia Nazario is going to be able to put a human face on this discussion, and I think people will be able to understand this in a very different way.”

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