Six UR students shared emotional stories about their experiences as immigrants in the U.S. last Wednesday evening at the Immigration Monologues held in Hoyt Auditorium.
The Immigration Monologues was one of five events that made up DREAM Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about immigration and social justice and named after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
Sophomore and member of UR Dreamers Haydi Torres, who assisted with the planning and execution of DREAM Week, felt it was important to give students a space to express themselves, and hoped it would diffuse misconceptions about refugees, immigrants, and undocumented immigrants.
“This is your chance,” Torres told students who were nervous or felt like it was too painful to talk about their lives. “Tell everything you wish people knew about your community and about what it’s like to be an immigrant.”
In his monologue, “The Wave-Particle Nature of an Immigrant’s Journey: Discovering Changeless Change as Internal Truth and Direction,” senior Raymond Lopez-Rios did just that.
Lopez-Rios opened by recounting his childhood and the abrupt transition he experienced at a young age, after moving to the U.S. when he was about 5-years-old and leaving behind a lifestyle he described as “pretty middle class.”
Though Lopez-Rios knew moving to the U.S. would present him with better opportunities, like a broader education, he remembers feeling dismayed upon arrival.
“Coming from your regular nuclear family house to having to live in the basement of your aunt’s house in Maryland is a bit of a shock when you’re 5 years old,” he said.
Sophomore Michael Reid felt similarly.
Reid was born and raised in Jamaica, and moved to the U.S. when he was 14, though he knew since he was 4 years old that his family would one day relocate.
“We weren’t struggling in Jamaica, but my parents saw it would be very hard for us, their kids, to succeed,” said Reid.
In his monologue, “The Life of a Jamaican Immigrant,” Reid described how the excitement of moving to the U.S. faded during his first week of living in New York City, when he had to come to terms with sharing a one bedroom apartment with four other people.
“That first week I almost cried,” Reid said. “I grew up in a house with a family in Jamaica. I’m used to having my own space, my own yard, and moving here to New York City, I came to the realization that it was nothing like I expected.”
The Immigration Monologues, Torres said, gave a human face to issues often spoken about.
“This is not about politics, this is not about right or left, this is about people’s lives,” she said. “You leave that room and think, ‘Wow I’ve never considered how hard it is to be an immigrant.’”
DREAM Week was co-sponsored by UR DREAMers, Students Helping Honduras, the Asian American Alliance, the Student Association for Interfaith Cooperation, and the Refugee Student Alliance.
Other speakers included University Program Associate at FWD.us Giancarla Rojas, sophomore Justin Delinois, sophomore Carley Haft, senior Delia Cruz Nochebuena, and sophomore Angel Martinez.