Fordham CSTAC Delivers Parent Workshop on The Immigrant Experience

On April 6th, Fordham University’s Community Schools Technical Assistance Center (CSTAC) was invited to participate in the Third Annual Parent Symposium from Community School District 10, a full-day event hosted by District Superintendent Maribel Torres-Hula. The event — devoted to parents of the 45,000+ students across 59 schools in this District of the Bronx– was an opportunity for parents and families to build community and build awareness around their child’s education, and the resources available to support all involved. Over 500 joined to hear keynote speakers, be introduced to resource vendors, and participate in workshops where parents can learn resources not only for their students, but for themselves as well.

Recognizing the power of family engagement in community schools, Fordham’s CSTAC joined in the day to offer a parent workshop titled, “The Immigrant Challenge,” by Educational Consultant Dr. Luz Torres. Workshop attendees were invited to share their own experiences and recognize, unitedly, the challenges they face through the immigrant experience, and the means by which they can access support. Although the audience represented multiple different countries — from Mexico, to Guatemala, to Argentina, to the Dominican Republic– Dr. Torres was pleased to facilitate the workshop entirely in Spanish, their shared language, and invited all to feel comfortable and connected in discussing their concerns. Attendees engaged with questions on their community’s needs, from navigating the education system, to seeking jobs, housing, and health services. Participants received information on immigrant rights, assistance with documentation, legal representation, adult education, and more.

A key item of discussion was the struggles parents face when they cannot not speak English, which “can hinder them,” said Dr. Torres, “and can also make them the target of discrimination and racism.” Through the workshop, Dr. Torres encouraged attendees to speak with their Principals and Parent Coordinators about the benefits of parent classes in English as a Second Language. She urged all in the room to “Take risk, practice your English, and don’t be embarrassed.” In reflection, Dr. Torres added that through the workshop, what participants “got from each other was strength, and a sense that they are entitled to do this.”

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