This week, La Posada has had the pleasure of meeting and working with five committed sociology students from Governors State University located in the South part of Chicago, Il. They are all students in Sociology Professor Dr. Daniel K. Cortese’s Social Inequalities course. The professor wants his students to experience an immersion – a lived experience of – meeting and working with immigrants and asylum seekers. The students chose La Posada as the place to do this service learning project. La Posada provided a perfect opportunity to spend a week volunteering since Dr. Cortese is also a member of the Stewardship Committee of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Chicago, a church that has an established mission relationship with La Posada.
While at La Posada, the students are undertaking two service projects: tutoring and painting the exterior of Casa Belen, the commons building.
When asked to reflect on his student’s impressions, Dr. Cortese commented “Most of my students are first-generation students in college and have humble backgrounds by American standards—qualifying for financial aid due to their family’s income. I think what is the most transformative for my students has been their ability to communicate across cultures through meaningful interactions and experiences with La Posada’s clients. The differences between us seem so insignificant compared to our similarities. For example, one student, Mike, made fast friends with Tomas from Africa over a quick game of basketball—learning about Tomas’s experience with and escape from persecution. And, in another example, Brianna, a student, connected with Abel through the ESL experience. They were learning each other’s words by using translation software on their phones. And, my student Tommy used the globe as a tool to show two adult La Posada clients from the Congo where he was from, and learned how they immigrated from Africa and their migration experience.
In each example, I could not have “taught” any of this from a textbook to make these points so clear for them. It’s been a wonderful exercise of showing how building bridges through love and selflessness makes society much stronger than walls can ever do.”
We are grateful for the help these students and Dr. Cortese are providing to La Posada and our clients. They will be great ambassadors for La Posada’s story and for the stories of the humble clients they encountered during their stay. The stories they tell of their experiences can help put a human face to the label “immigrant” and “asylum seeker.”