If you are interested in learning and talking about immigration and exploring some of Philadelphia’s immigrant neighborhoods, then SJU Reads is for you!

The idea for SJU Reads 2019 came about after Nancy Fox, Associate Professor of Economics, read Dear America, by José Antonio Vargas. Vargas is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, an acclaimed filmmaker, and an immigration advocate. He is also a DREAMER, an immigrant to the United States who arrived as a child and lived his life in an undocumented legal status. In Dear America, Vargas shares stories of his childhood in the Philippines, his arrival and adaptation to life in the U.S., and his journey into and through immigration reform activism. Although his past is unique to his specific circumstances, Vargas’ story has much in common with those of other immigrants, both documented and undocumented alike. This book is a starting point to delve into the meaning of what it means to be American and to explore facets of the immigrant experience in Philadelphia today.

Immigration is a fundamental aspect of American history and society. It is also a hot button issue, and one that can be divisive. Currently and at all levels – community, municipal, state, national – there is talk about and action on legislative and policy reform to address newcomers to the United States through family reunification, work permits, refugee programs, and irregular/unauthorized entry. In Dear America, Vargas sheds light on the issues facing over eleven million (11,000,000!) undocumented immigrants living in the country, and SJU Reads will offer a compelling and participatory examination of these issues.

Since February, a group of faculty and staff have been putting together a diverse and interactive program for twenty incoming freshmen. You’ll arrive to campus early – on Thursday, August 22 – and spend the morning and early afternoon moving into your student housing with the help of our SJU Reads student leaders. You’ll then spend the rest of the day meeting and getting to know other participants, exploring the SJU campus and surroundings, and discussing  the fundamentals of America’s immigrant history, Catholic social teaching, and the Jesuit commitment with respect to migrants. On Friday, you’ll have a full day of activities after breakfast, including discussion and dialogue about Dear America, followed by a trip to explore the art, architecture, culture, and food of immigrant neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Philadelphia has been intentional about welcoming immigrants in the last two decades, and their settlement here has helped our city grow in a vibrant way. Friday afternoon will be an opportunity for you to explore your new home and to understand the contributions immigrants have been making as well as the barriers they face in caring for their families.

SJU Reads is a short but engaging early arrival program that incorporates the passions and enthusiasm of student leaders, faculty and staff, and incoming Hawks, and puts the SJU mission into action, as all participants continue to cultivate themselves as engaged citizens in inclusive ways in the pursuit of social justice.

Check out the SJU Reads website here!

– Dr. Gioioso, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of the Latin American and Latinx Studies Program