Thirteen students across a range of years and majors spent their spring break (Mar. 17-19) engaging the theme of Immigration and Advocacy in Tacoma. Through volunteering, a cultural immersion, nonprofit tours and visiting with local activists, students explored the history of immigration in the US, the current state of immigration reform and the various obstacles that immigrants face within Tacoma and Pierce County. Students started spring break with a dinner kick-off on Sunday night and a viewing of the documentary “Harvest of Empire.” They volunteered with Guadalupe Gardens on Monday and participated in a cultural immersion by visiting a Vietnamese monastery and restaurant in south Tacoma. Afterwards, they listened to the story of Luis Ortega, Political Director for the DREAM Act Coalition of Washington State. On Tuesday, students visited with representatives from Northwest Detention Center Roundtable, took a guided tour of Tacoma Community House and wrapped up on campus with a pizza celebration.
Overall, students enjoyed Alternative Spring Break and appreciated this year’s emphasis on education and advocacy. One student said: “I loved exploring Tacoma a little more and really liked the broad inclusion of different aspects of the immigrant population and the mix of fun, food, education and service.” Students also felt more connected to the issue of immigration and knew of ways they could get involved on- and off-campus. “ASB provided me with numerous resources to continue my new interest in immigration matters.” The response from service agencies and off-campus communities was positive as well. A representative from the Vietnamese monastery said: “The abbot was pleased to have people interested in hearing about the challenges immigrants face. Students from Puget Sound are more than welcome to visit and contact us in the future.”