This semester I am co-facilitating a one credit course titled Beyond the Border: Immigration Stories. My co-facilitator and I knew we wanted to teach a one credit course as sophomores, but we were not sure what we wanted our course to be about.
I knew I wanted it to be about social justice because that is something that I am extremely passionate about. After many conversations we decided that we wanted to teach a course on immigration. We are both immigrants from the Dominican Republic and we both felt that many of our values stem from our identity as immigrants. At a campus like Stonehill, immigration is not a topic that is often spoken about. We also thought that with the new president, it was a good time to discuss how immigration in the U.S might change in the upcoming year.
Yesterday, we had our first official class. It went better than I expected. Our students shared a variety of experiences and perspectives regarding immigration. I cannot put into words how great it felt to be in a classroom with 9 other passionate students who were just as invested as I am about learning more about immigration. People shared some incredible stories about their families and their experience coming to the U.S. Other students shared that they feel very removed from the topic, but that they are committed to learning more about immigration. Despite our various experiences about perspectives with immigration, the room was filled with positive energy. In all the stories people shared about their experience coming to the U.S there was a theme of opportunity, struggle, hard work and resilience.
After co-facilitating the first class I have been assured that facilitating this class is the best way to end my time at Stonehill College. As a shared my story with the students I thought about my mother and everything she had to do so that I could have the opportunity to be in this classroom with the 9 students. I am so grateful for everything she has done for me and my siblings. At the age of 20, my mother immigrated to the U.S., carrying a newborn and a toddler. She did not have a degree; she was a single mother; she did not speak English; she did not have a job waiting for her. To think that because of her bravery I am able to be here is breathtaking. I know that there is nothing I can do to repay her for everything she has done, but graduating college is a good place to start.
With that said, it is very important, especially as first generation college student we remind ourselves of the sacrifices that our parents and guardians have made for us. This reminder should serve as our motivation every single day to get up and be the best we could be. I cannot wait to walk across that stage in May with my graduation gown and think to myself “I am an immigrant, I am first generation college student, I am a student of color and I am also a college graduate”. Thank you, mami.