This morning's class was taught by two guest speakers, Judith Bernstein Baker and Javier Garcia Hernandez. Judith is a lawyer as well as a social worker, the foundation she works with is called HIAS. She talked to us about what her organization does, the history of it, and immigration here in the U.S.. Yesterday, we focused on Asian immigrants, and so today we turned our attention on over to Mexican immigrants. Javier gave us a lot of information and personal statements regarding the current immigration laws, hardships faced by immigrants, and facts and statistics. I don't want to go into detail about this topic, because I, being Mexican, would be clearly biased to one side. What I will say is that if you'd like to learn more about the organization Judith is a part of, you can visit their website: www.hiaspa.org.
Today's lunch wasn't a normal lunch for me, or for anybody else in the class. Instead of letting us go at 12 so we can go get our lunch and reconvening at 2 for the afternoon session, we took a trip. We went to Juntos In the organization's own words, "Juntos is a Latino immigrant community led organization in Philadelphia fighting for our human rights as workers, parents, youth, and immigrants." Since the morning's topic was immigration, more specifically Mexican immigration, it only seemed right that we visited that organization. When we arrived we were ushered into their cafeteria, and they served us lunch. They made us tamales and flautas, which I thought was incredibly thoughtful. Now I don't know if any of you know, but it takes so much time and effort to make tamales especially for a large group of people like us. I felt really welcomed and comfortable in that environment.
After we all finished up the delicious lunch, the organization's leader, Miguel, spoke to us. We separated into small groups of about six, and each group had a member of the organization to talk to. My group had Eric, and he was amazing. He was a bit shy at first and asked Miguel to answer a lot of the questions that we had asked. After a bit of time, he began to open up a bit and confessed that he doesn't talk much because he feels that his English isn't good enough. He wants to go to college but without a social security number, it might not be possible. Eric knows where he wants to go, what he wants to study, and that he will work as hard as he has to, to accomplish his goals. He really made me realize how lucky I am. I can apply to any college I want, he can't even apply. There are so many opportunities here in America, but most of them are only available to citizens. It is hard for Eric, it has been hard ever since he came to the U.S. when he was four, but he seems so confident that he'll accomplish every goal he has set for himself. He was an inspiration.
The rest of the day was quite productive. The class walked around South Philly mainly at the Italian Marker, with a quick stop at Geno's (cheesesteak place). We looked around to see the influence immigrants had and continue to have in those areas. After walking around for what felt like a million years in a sauna, we headed back to campus on the Septa. I did my last load of laundry, well I hope I don't have to do more tomorrow. I also began to prep my things for packing, all of my drawers are empty and my clothes are all separated and folded. I went to the gym for one of my last work out sessions, but that wasn't until after I returned from a dessert outing with the girls from my floor and RC. The night ended with Chloe, Alysa, and myself pitching in to buy Insomnia cookies. Alysa had been telling me nonstop for the past week that I cannot leave Penn without trying the famous Insomnia cookies, so I thought I might as well get it over with. I must admit they were pretty good, but nothing extraordinary. I think I had set my expectations a bit high since I had heard so much about them, but either way I'm glad I tried them!