By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Production Editor
A group of Manhattan College students took a trip to the Lower East Side to learn about the history of immigration in the city, while also taking a look into modern day issues that immigrants face in society.
The trip was led by coordinator of social action Jacquie Martin, graduate assistant Jubilee Aguilar and student leaders Sabrina Beharry and Olivia Stewart. 11 students went on it, including myself.
The experience was split into two days: there was the preparation meeting held on Feb. 18, and the trip was the next day. The preparation meeting was an overview on what students were going to be learning about while also getting the opportunity to speak to an immigrant, Reshad Ahamdi.
Ahmadi was an Afghan consultant and engineer on a U.S. military base near Kabul. He shared his life-changing experiences with the group going on the immersion, and how they led to him and his family moving to the United States.
Another guest speaker who came to the meeting was Marti Michael. Michael was a social activist who is dedicating her retirement to helping others. She explained her past as she went to the border to help asylum seekers and help provide the resources they need.
Martin explained why these guest speakers were important people to listen to and why we should learn from them.
“We can learn from different groups of people and hear stories from people who have been through immigration problems first hand. To hear the voice of other people is important and students should open up and learn more,” Martin said.
The first stop on the trip the next day was the Tenement Museum, which explores different stories about Americans and their relationships with immigration. At the museum, the group took a tour of some apartments where we learned about the people who lived there.
Later on, the group went to Chinatown to speak with picketers outside the MOCA (Museum of Chinese in America), who explained that the museum wasn’t representing Chinatown or Chinese history in a respectful manner.
“MOCA accepted Mayor de Blasio’s $35 million bribe to support the new mega-jail in Chinatown,” the flyers they handed out said.
Hearing this information shocked most of the participants on the immersion, including Sabrina Beharry. It made her think about what representation means, she said.
“One of my biggest takeaways was to not take information at surface value,” Beharry said. “I learned digging deeper is always an important thing to do and to always try to consider multiple angles in a situation before I make a judgment about something.”
After stopping to get dim sum in Chinatown, the group went to La Salle Academy to have a group discussion about the trip. During this time students reflected on the experience, saying that overall, the trip was successful and showed students a new side to the world around them.
“I think the trip was really important,” Martin said. “I think immigration and all of this is such an important issue that it should be talked about more. Immegration is such a timely issue, and that students should learn about our country’s history more revolving around it.”
Beharry said this trip helped her look at her own view of immigration and how her family’s history shaped it.
“I have a single perspective of immigration like the one that my family has experienced, and I just wanted to see what immigration would be like for other cultures and problems they face.” Beharry said.
Stewart had some encouragement for students who would think about participating in a L.O.V.E immersion trip in the future.
“I honestly would say go for it, because there’s a lot of different aspects and different paths that you can take that might be interesting to you and there’s a lot of really great people. So I think it’s something that’s really great to get involved with,” Stewart said.
The CMSA will be hosting another LOVE trip where students will be going to Flint Michigan from May 20 through May. 27. To find more information you can email Jubilee Aguilar at email@example.com or Jacquie Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.