-Ron Lapitan, Community Outreach Coordinator
“I was planning to see my counselor, but then I came to this class, because I definitely didn’t want to miss this,” said Malori, a student in the leadership course at Yorktown High School which is doing our Health as Right Program this semester. For a person in any youth empowerment program, such a comment is a gift and an affirmation. It tells us we’re doing our job, which is to give youth their own intrinsic reasons for being a part of this world besides grades.
Last class, we picked “Immigration” as the subject for our semester service project. Today, we split the class into groups to research different aspects of the immigrant experience, including Food Insecurity, Employment, Education, and Legal Assistance. The teachers weaved it together with a lesson about examining the validity of sources.
“.Edu means it came from a university, which is usually good. .Gov is also good, which means it came from a government. .Org means it came from a non-profit, which could be either good or bad, because every non-profit has its bias,” explained the teacher to the students.
At the end, the groups came together and shared their most poignant learnings.
“I read a story about a woman who went to get a restraining order for her abusive husband. But then her information was used to call immigration, because she was undocumented,” said one student from the Law Enforcement Abuse group.
“Yes, a big problem is that undocumented people are scared of reporting crimes,” commented the teacher.
“I went through airport security together with a Muslim family. They easily let my family go through, but they immediately took the Muslim family behind us to search and question them because they were wearing hijab,” added Ethan.
There is very little I actually do in the class, other than provide a context for service-learning. But the students and teachers alike embrace that situation and make the objective their own, as if they were waiting for it all along.