Looking at the point of view of day workers when it comes to the issue of immigration may leave many students and community members at CU with a new perspective.
Sewall Hall was host to the first “Dialogues on Immigrant Integration” seminar Friday. The six-hour discussion was attended by CU students, workers and residents.
“We need to work as a community on bridging the gap we are seeing, especially the language gap,” said Mary Robinson, a junior geography major. “I think it helped being here because I was able to see the different perspectives and feel the experiences of people that work here.”
The seminar was organized by the non-profit group Dialogues on Immigrant Immigration. The group travels to various venues around Boulder raising awareness on immigration and worker issues by holding seminars to start conversation. The seminars consist of an open lunch initiating conversation with an emphasis on respect for all points of views, and a rule for everyone to remain anonymous.
The conversations were organized through an inner and outer circle. The inner circle would discuss issues for 30 minutes and then the group would change, allowing people from the outer circle to speak. However, it was the issues raised by workers that gave many people a new way to see how day workers really feel.
“The conversations opened me mentally because it allowed me to talk and that makes me happy because I don’t feel so lonely and ignored,” Sewall’s housekeeping supervisor Rose Freed said.
“I have seen people spread trash around their floors and beer bottles all over, but the worst was when someone put (feces) in the trash and then put it in the housekeeping closet. If these kids were at home they would not have been behaving like this,” Freed said.
Even though the acts of students are not necessarily directed towards immigrant workers it is hard for workers to have their voices heard.
“I am sick and tired of people saying ‘it’s just the Mexicans coming and stealing our jobs.’ Today we were able to express our feelings of being (in the U.S.) and doing the jobs we do and now we have been seen and heard like never before,” Freed said.
The seminar also had bilingual translators for immigrants, students and community members to properly voice their opinion.
Leslie Irwin is the coordinator of DOII and has learned just how much people can change.
“People learned for a day what it was like to be an immigrant,” Irwin said.
Irwin was also joined by Gerry Dorin, a clinical psycoligist from Longmont who travels to Boulder to help hold these seminars.
“I believe motivation to change comes when you know something about different people. The idea of ‘I didn’t know that about that person’ can leave us always pushing our own way, leaving us with a gap,” Dorin said. “Today I think we bridged that gap to build a connection, a human connection.”
The Colorado Trust’s Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative funded the group. The committee and the group both have a goal in the next four years to initate more conversations about immigration, which to them is the best way to influence society’s opinion of immigrants.
“I look around and see that everyone here is an immigrant and I now really feel like I am not alone, which comforts me,” Freed said.
Contact Campus Press Staffwriter Renee Tavera at Renee.Tavera@thecampuspress.com