By Samantha Walla, Staff Writer
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “immigrant?” That’s the question sophomore Shannon Raczynski sought to shed light on during her first weeks back at Manhattan College by creating a short but impactful video of student opinions on immigration.
Directed by Raczynski and filmed by junior Kaiyun Chen, the video features the unfiltered responses of several MC students on the quadrangle describing their initial associations with the word “immigrant.” Raczynski was sure to begin filming before proposing her question to ensure an unfiltered response. Their answers range from simple to personal, showcasing the diverse array of views students have on what it means to be an immigrant.
“I feel like a lot of people have negative connotations against the word ‘immigrant’,” said Raczynski, a peace studies and philosophy double-major. “I honestly just wanted to see people’s first ideas of what came to their mind because I assumed that the response would be very diverse, and it was.”
This curiosity, along with encouragement from her advisor and chair of the peace studies program, Kevin Ahern, and her role in Manhattan College’s social action group, Just Peace, gave her the idea to capture the response in a video, which she filmed with the assistance of friend and Just Peace executive member, Chen.
When asked about the responses that she filmed, Chen responded, “many of our students answered the question with ‘family’, which really warms my heart. I am surprised to see so many students associate their own lives and themselves with the word ‘immigrant’. I think that really shows love and the Jasper spirit.”
This video comes at a time when immigration is a subject of much contention in politics, as the rescindment of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was announced earlier this month.
Raczynski cites this as a factor that shaped the responses she recorded. “I was expecting some negative feedback and there was nothing bad. Even though I had planned to do it for a few weeks, it was the day after the DACA incident, a lot of people were influenced by that.”
Unsurprisingly, the video is gaining recognition and provoking discussion around campus. Just Peace, Manhattan College’s social action group, typically organizes socially-conscious events such as movie screenings and speakers, making this video a perfect starting point for conversation within the club.
“Shannon told me about her idea for the immigration video at the very beginning of the semester,” said Samantha Wilson, president of Just Peace. “I was immediately excited because I knew a project like this video happening so early on in the school year would set the tone for students to have an open dialogue on campus about issues we are facing today.”
The impact of the video continues to reach more and more Manhattan College students. Many professors have contacted Raczynski and asked that they show the video to their classes. Even participants of the video have expanded their view on immigrants.
“People who were in the video came back up to me later and talked to be about it and said how they didn’t realize how diverse [the] responses would be. Immigration right now has a lot to do with Central and South America in the United States. So many people said Ellis Island, a lot of people said family. And those people who said that came back up to me and said ‘that’s crazy, I didn’t realize so many people had ties,’” said Raczynski.
Raczynski’s video can be viewed on Just Peace’s Facebook page, JustPeaceMC, and will be linked on The Quadrangle’s website, mcquad.org.
Editor’s Note: Kaiyun Chen also serves as a staff writer and photographer for The Quadrangle.