Comparative Latinx Course Collecting Supplies For Immigrant Families

April 16, 2019

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Students in the Comparative Latinx Immigration course are not only learning about the hardships many immigrants face, they’re directly helping families who’ve been sent to San Antonio from the border.

Taught by TLU’s Center For Mexican American Studies Director Dr. Jennifer Mata, the class has partnered with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC) of San Antonio as part of their backpack project to gather much needed supplies for refugees. The IWC—a faith-based movement meeting the changing needs of asylum seekers, refugees and at-risk immigrants in collaboration with others—came together in the summer of 2014 in response to the overwhelming need of unaccompanied children coming to the United States from Central America.

The IWC collaborates with many organizations and serves as advocates for the needs of these vulnerable populations.

In addition to donation boxes in the Alumni Student Center and academic buildings, local community partners also accepting supplies include the Seguin Public Library, Faith Lutheran Church, Emmanuel's Lutheran Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Seguin Coffee Company, Pin Twist, Thunder Paws, and KWED Radio.

The most needed items are: shoe laces, toothbrush and toothpaste, wipes for body or hands, Kleenex, non-perishable snacks and water bottles, pens and notepads, coloring books and crayons, 4X6 blankets, English to Spanish dictionaries, small stuffed animals, and feminine products (pads preferably). Donations will be collected through April 30 at all locations.

“I believe in a world where people should help others in times of grief, loss, and fear,” Mia Ramirez, a senior English Literature major, said. “On my first training day, I saw children playing with one another and mothers offering each other a listening ear. If giving someone something as simple as a backpack of supplies can make a difference in their day, it could possibly make a difference in their world.”

Junior Political Science major Derek Guevara said the course helped him learn about the historical background of the countries these immigrants are fleeing from and the war and violence forcing them out.

“This journey is something that’s not easy for them,” he said. “These are families and children. Now that I’ve taken this class, I have a better understanding of why and what these people are going through this. We should take care of each other."

Student Francisco Olvera knew he wanted to take this class as soon as he found out their service project would be gathering supplies for immigrant families. He and others even went through Trauma Informed Training to be better equipped at interacting with the individuals they meet.

“Their situation is so much more complicated than it looks,” Olvera, a sophomore Kinesiology major, said. “It more than just handing out backpacks and we learned that they could be going through trauma from what they’ve faced in their country. We learned different techniques to use when approaching them and how we shouldn’t stand over them but actually kneel down beside them.”

For senior Psychology major Leslie Flores, the class and project has had a very personal connection. Her mother came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 19 and she was able to get her citizenship with the help of people she met.

“She was very close to the age I am now,” Flores said. “They’re scared coming here and if their first interaction is with us giving them a backpack of supplies, it makes their transition easier. I took this class because I come from a Mexican background. And with the political climate right now, I wanted to learn more about immigration. There was a lot of stuff I didn’t know and it’s so much more than what we see on TV. It’s much more complicated than most people know. The border is around us. The detention centers are around us. We live here and we should know what’s really going on. It’s important that we help these families.”

Pictured above L to R: Mia Ramirez, Leslie Flores, Derek Guevara, and Francisco Olvera. 

Article Written by TLU's Office of Marketing and Communications 

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