Originally posted by Amelia Barili on ameliabarili.com/blog, August 24, 2015.
Today my students’ work was featured in the home page of UC Berkeley. It was a delightful surprise to suddenly see the cover of our bilingual anthology Historias de indocumentados/Stories of the Undocumentedright there in our alma-matter’s website. That a group of undergraduate students–writing true stories about their struggles as undocumented, and those of their families, and of people they worked with in their service learning experience–made it to the front page of the website, is a very good sign that our time is (slowly) changing.
The whole process, from the creation of the course to the class process in which students felt safe to write, to their experience of volunteering to serve undocumented people at a small and powerful NGO located just across from the UCB campus, to the actual honing and translating of the students’ favorite stories, to gathering them in this anthology that was published last April, is a labor of love with many facets. I’ll share with you more details in future blogs.
For now, let me just express how happy I am today! What an enormous satisfaction it is to have assisted these students to give voice to those stories that help us all see the faces of an invisible population (over 12 million people) who live in the shadows of the USA, often in very vulnerable conditions, with nobody to whom to go when their rights are being violated, living in constant fear of being deported. This is a very real fear, and many families have been torn apart by a father or a mother being deported, including some of the families of students writing in this anthology.
With this bilingual anthology Historias de Indocumentados/Stories of the Undocumented, these undergraduate students are contributing to change our social landscape. They are daring to give voice to what before was not told to anyone else; to stories from their childhood, their first day in school, the crossing of the border, the fear of being deported, the sadness of seeing the vulnerability of children that are traveling alone trying to reach the North, escaping from violence and poverty, and longing to be reunited with the part of their family that made it to this other side earlier. By choosing to give voice to these stories, they are becoming at the same time researchers and objects of research. But now, it is their own reflections and their own voices that help us see, from very close by, the anguishing situation of the undocumented population. These students are moving from being object of others’ writings or opinions to being agents of change. In this way academic education becomes also a game changer.