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The Aquilian

Does Gonzaga talk enough about immigration?

Gonzaga students enter a simulated refugee shelter during the 2018 Ignatian Heritage Day. (Photo from Gonzaga Flickr account)

A few years ago, during spring of my sophomore year, Gonzaga held a refugee-themed Ignatian Heritage Day. Students received a little taste of what it was like to be a refugee for a day by participating in activities such as a simulated border control. After participating in these events, we then talked about the issue of immigration and what we can do to help. The immigration-themed day was a great idea, but why should it end there? 

Immigration is one of the most pressing and relevant issues in our world today, reaching all parts of the globe, including the United States. It is a constant piece of conversation nationally and internationally. We spent one day learning about it two years ago.  Still, does the Gonzaga community talk and reflect enough about the global immigration crisis? 

As a Jesuit school, we learn to follow our faith, and our faith teaches us to love our neighbors and to accept strangers into our home. Yet, where at Gonzaga, whether in our classes or elsewhere, do we learn about immigration? 

The Washington area is an extremely diverse place. According to an analysis of data from 2015 by the Migration Policy Institute, approximately 24% of the population  in the Washington region (which is 1,460,000 people) is foreign born. Of this foreign born population, approximately 363,000 are estimated to be unauthorized immigrants.

In fact, you may even know some people at Gonzaga who are or have parents that are immigrants or foreign born. My parents are an example of this, as they moved to Washington, D.C. from Spain and Sweden over 20 years ago.

Currently at Gonzaga, we have clubs and organizations such as the Latino American Student Organization and the Spanish Honor Society that touch on the topic of immigration. We also have the Apopka spring and summer service trips and the Nogales, Arizona service trip that focus on immersing students into immigrant communities to gain a deeper understanding of their life and struggles. But can Gonzaga do more?

Some possible solutions include taking a page out of the Onyx Club and having an immigration-themed speaker series during Hispanic heritage month, as well as holding bake sales, fundraisers, and other immigration themed events. Another possible solution could be to have an immigration-focused unit taught in foreign language classes. This way, Gonzaga students become more educated on immigration and why it is relevant in our classroom, in our faith and in our world.


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    Madeline AlbrittainMar 21, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Love the idea of having speakers touch on immigration during HHM. Great article, Alex! Bien hecho 🙂