The University chapters of Amnesty International and No Lost Generation are hosting their first annual Immigration Week on campus. Throughout the course of the week, events each day are held that relate to migrants and migration issues worldwide.
The chapter of Amnesty International came to the University two years ago, realizing the need for a singular group on campus dedicated to issues of immigration. Current senior Yeralmi Massiel Valladares, a student from Honduras, created the chapter in her sophomore year.
Amnesty International is a part of the world-wide human rights organization that monitors human rights and seeks the release of prisoners of conscience and an end to the death penalty. No Lost Generation is a United Nations initiative that arose out of the Syrian refugee crisis and commits itself to action by humanitarians, donors and policy makers in support of children and youth affected by the Syria and Iraq crises.
On Monday, Feb. 17, Amnesty and No Lost Generation kicked off the week with a visual campaign around campus. Bright yellow footsteps around the Oreo through The Quad provided diverse perspectives on the immigrant experience. These steps debunked myths and explained realities of migrant stories.
On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the groups hosted a panel titled “The Unheard Stories at Villanova: Bringing Migrants’ Realities to the Forefront.” Students packed the Villanova Room to hear an in-depth panel discussion with both students and faculty from the University’s immigrant community.
A community dinner hosted by Catholic Relief Services, on Wednesday, Feb. 19, will be held in the Radnor and St. David’s Rooms of Connelly Center for students from 6 – 8 p.m.
Connecting Black History Month with topics of immigration, two University professors will host a talk in Falvey’s Speaker Corner at 4 p.m. Titled “Thinking race, Practicing Decolonization.” This dialogue sponsored by Africana Studies and Falvey Library will provide a space for professors to talk to students about timely issues surrounding human rights and migration in a global context.
Upon reservation, students will be provided with a free lunch on Friday, Feb. 21 at the Immigration Network Luncheon, usually open to just faculty. Students and faculty interested in topics of immigration justice and migrant rights will have the opportunity to openly discuss shared interests.
The first annual Immigration Week will conclude with a screening of “Clinica de Migrantes,” sponsored by Campus Ministry and ¡Levántate! in Corr Hall Lounge at 6:30 p.m. This documentary follows a clinic in South Philadelphia that primarily serves undocumented immigrants in the area.
Along with these events, Amnesty International on campus has partnered with Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design from Pasadena, Calif. in promotion of the immigrant Myths & Realities Campaign. This artwork all over campus is designed by members of Designmatters, an educational department of ArtCenter that joins artistic expression with social change. The department established a relationship with the United Nations in 2002.
The Amnesty International chapter on campus has had its goal for over a year to host a week-long event dedicated to immigration issues. “Our mission is humanizing the migrant,” Valladares said, “and sharing stories because stories are very powerful.”