This past Sunday, the IYWP had the pleasure of hosting a panel & presentation for a group of Iowa City students between the grades of 8th & 12th. The presentation included topics of immigration and identity and what that has meant over the past few decades. Led by IYWP director Mallory Hellman, the students were given the chance to engage in conversations about important race movements throughout America’s history as well as being able to put their feelings towards immigration onto paper.
After the initial presentation was over, the students were then joined by a group of esteemed leaders of the Iowa City community –all of which have dealt with issues of race and immigration throughout their lives. The panel consisted of Rachel Torres, a graduate from the University of North Texas who currently researches how certain factors regarding immigration enforcement influence the political and social acculturation of Latinos in the United States; Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz, a Netherlands native who is now the new Rabbi for Congregation Agudas Achim here in Iowa City; Mazahir Salih, community organizer for the Center For Worker Justice and the first Sudanese woman to be elected to a city council in the United States; and finally, IYWP intern Joshua Balicki, a student here at Iowa who is a filed descendant of the Oneida Nation and a lineal descendant of the Mohawk Nation. Joshua’s current academic research interests include Native American boarding and industrial schools and blood quantum laws.
The students were given the chance to listen and ask the members questions about race, immigration, and their experiences combating racial stigma and prejudice here in the United States. Questions such as “How does the current U.S. immigration debate affect your life, work, and study?”, “If someone has a question about your heritage or background, what’s the best way to approach and ask?”, and “Which event (or events) in history do you believe have contributed most to the way members of your cultural group are viewed by dominant American society?”.
The event was one to remember. The amount of engagement and insightful thinking that came from the students was remarkable. In addition, the panelist members speeches were inspiring and captivated the students with every word.
If you would like to attend more IYWP events, we have another exciting one this weekend! Join us this Saturday at the Mill from 12-2pm for Junior High Writing Jam! Click the link to for a look at the IYWP event calendar: https://iywp.org/about/events