By Gabriela Flora, AFSC Project Voice Regional Organizer
We have been strengthening, expanding and deepening our relationship with Regis University in Denver. The panel, workshops and class project AFSC has partnered with Regis on have provided important mechanisms to work with students and faculty to educate about, bring light to and work for change on immigration issues.
We are thrilled to now have Tania Valenzuela, who just graduated from Regis, on the AFSC Colorado Area Program Committee. She brings a much needed immigrant voice to the APC and an energetic talent that strengthens our work. It was a great honor for me to serve on a panel with Tania and another undocumented Regis student, Heidi. (Click here for an article about the panel.)
Tania (who helped organize the event) and Heidi shared from their heart about their realities and challenged Regis students and faculty, along with the institution, to truly address immigration issues. My voice on the panel helped bring in the role of the ally audience, challenging people to get involved and recognize their privilege and role in changing the broken system. I have had to opportunity to support Tania as she moves into the post-graduate workforce and provide her with feedback on her resume and a cover letter.
The Regis Peace and Justice class took on an analysis of the letters from our letter writing ladder that have been published over the past five years. Their investigation and perspective provided significant insight into the important impact of our letter writing campaign. In follow up with the professor of the class, we have decided to make this an ongoing project with his Peace and Justice classes.
Next semester, students will analyze Denver Post articles on immigration, broken down into categories and time periods that will provide us with needed data that we can use as follow up to an editorial meeting AFSC staffer Jordan Garcia and Coloradoans for Immigrant Rights members had with the Post in May.
This long-term project provides students with important insight into the role of the media in defining how the issue of immigration is viewed by the mainstream and connects principles of peace and just to the struggle for immigrant rights. The project provides AFSC with longitudinal analysis of how the topic of immigration has been treated by the paper; additionally, we now have some very energized and well educated new members of our letter writing ladder.
As a background to the project, AFSC staffer Jennifer Piper and I did the immigration timeline with the students and explored the themes and rhetoric in immigration policy and attitudes throughout history. This provided the students with an understanding of our work and basis from which to do the analysis. We will continue these workshops with the classes as they begin their analysis for us. Additionally, Piper was on a Peace and Justice career panel that provided an avenue for students to learn how others have taken their values into the workforce.