by Ann Abbott
Yesterday I posted about Prof. Lissette Piedra's model of engaged citizenship as a model for our Spanish community service learning (CSL) students. She was extremely engaged in the fight to retain the position of "Bilingual Family Liaison" for Urbana schools. To do that she:
- Researched information about Latino demographic and educational trends.
- Wrote a detailed and well-argued memo to the School Board.
- Involved the local press in the issue.
- Spoke before the School Board.
- And contributed to the successful outcome: the position was not eliminated.
Prof. Piedra is to be admired. Yet, is there a middle ground between CSL work for course credit and the lengths to which she went?
How about this postcard campaign on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform sponsored by the Jewish Council on Urbana Affairs? Would students who are working with community members (youth and adults) who are impacted by immigration reform put their name to a postcard that supports real policy reform to benefit those community members?
Do our students even know what comprehensive immigration reform would look like? Even if students don't want to sign the postcard and send it, just reading it may open their eyes to the risks and obstacles that the people they work with for 28 hours this semester face 24 hours a day.
Furthermore, this "Postcards to Congress" campaign highlights the intersections of religion, politics and social justice. The impetus behind a Catholic campaign for immigration reform might seem more culturally tied together. What does this postcard campaign reveal about the tenets of the Jewish faith that connect to a fight for immigration reform?
These are all questions our students can grapple with in class or in reflective homework assignments.