Beyond Borders:

2009-10 Civic Engagement Theme

Rapidly changing immigration and migration patterns in the 21st century, driven by multiple sources, including war, natural disaster, economic pressure, the decline of the nation state and advances in communication and transportation technology, pose significant challenges for the global community. Americans celebrate diverse immigrant populations that helped build a flourishing nation but also struggle with exploitation, discrimination and sometimes outright enslavement of these same populations. What is clear is that global patterns of immigration and migration are intimately connected with developments in the United States.

During the 2009-10 academic year the Bluffton community engaged in scholarly analysis of local, national and global immigration issues and engaged regional immigrant populations. Topics of interest included immigration issues in Europe and the Middle East, human trafficking and exploitation, the role and needs of U.S. migrant workers, the concept of a living wage, immigration law, migrant schools, undocumented workers, language issues, the legitimacy of immigration restrictions, representations of immigration in the arts and border security.   

Activities throughout the year included:

The theme was introduced to first-year students in their summer orientation reading assignment, "Enrique's Journey" by Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer-prize winner feature writer. Ms. Nazario addressed the campus community as the speaker for opening convocation on Sept. 1, 2009, then again as a guest for an alumni/student book discussion of "Enrique's Journey" during Civic Engagement Day on April 1, 2010.    

The civic engagement scholar for 2009-10 was Dr. Paul Neufeld Weaver, assistant professor of education. Dr. Weaver has more than 27 years experience working with immigrant populations including working in a refugee camp and a Mennonite Church sanctuary as a translator and interpreter, and creating a dual-immersion K-8 charter school which serves primarily children of immigrants.

The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center hosted a children's conference, "Celebration of Peace: Beyond Borders." "The purpose of the conference was to provide activities to raise awareness of stereotypes and labels that tend to separate people," said Louise Matthews, director of The Lion and Lamb.

 A three-day conference on immigration, headlined by author Dr. M. Daniel Carroll Rodas and civic rights leader Baldemar Velasquez, brought together scholars, church leaders and immigrants.
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Civic Engagement Day

Activities planned to wrap up the year's studies included the following:

    • Immigration debate
    • Lecture on immigration's economic impact
    • Border crossing simulation where students were stopped and papers checked as they crossed the Riley Creek
    • Viewing and discussion of "Fuerza"
    • Alumni book discussion with author Sonia Nazario
    • Report on student experiences at the Mennonite Central Committee United Nations seminar on displacement in Congo, Colombia and Iraq
    • Readers Theatre presentation

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