Immigration

BGSU’s Bruce Collet has advice on how to help immigrants assimilate

By ROBIN STANTON GERROW for  BGSU Office of  Marketing & Communications As the Western world sees a new influx of immigrants, many with strong religious affiliations, countries are grappling with how to help them acculturate into their new societies. Dr. Bruce Collet, associate professor in the Bowling Green State University School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy and coordinator of the Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education program in the College of Education and Human Development, sees the important role public schools have in this process. In his new book, “Migration, Religion, and Schooling in Liberal Democratic States” (Routledge, 2018) he lays out recommendations on how these institutions can help facilitate immigrants’ integration. Drawing from political philosophy, the sociology of migration and the philosophy of education, Collet argues that public schools in liberal democratic states can best facilitate the pluralistic integration of religious migrant students through adopting policies of recognition and accommodation that are not only reasonable in light of liberal democratic principles, but also informed by what we understand regarding the natural role religion often plays in acculturation. Collet posits the question of how public schools in liberal democratic states — those that place a high value on freedom and autonomy — can help immigrants and refugees create a “sense of belongingness” to their new homes. “It really is about how educational policymakers and teachers can better understand the connection between religion and acculturation,” he said. Collet’s interest in this issue stems from a combination of scholarly work and personal experience. “My parents were emblematic of the 1960s,” he said. “They wanted to throw off the constraints of the ’50s. We moved to Madison, Wisconsin, when I was 7, and the journey for them was spiritual in a way not available to them when they were growing up. At a very early age, I saw the connection between migration and faith, as my mother, who was involved in the Quaker movement, worked with Central American refugees. Later, for my dissertation, I worked with Somali immigrants in the Toronto area on the relationship between the migration experience and perception of a national identity. Working with the Somalians, generally a religious lot, I found that religion surfaced as an important element of the diaspora and it piqued my curiosity.” For his current work, Collet found that religion can sometimes be front and center, either as an impediment or facilitator of integration into a…


Film series at Gish Theater explores exile & migration across continents

From BGSU INTERNATIONAL FILM SERIES “Exile and Migration” will be the theme of International Film Series in the Gish Theater in Hanna Hall on the Bowling Green State University campus. The films will be screened in the theater on Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. except on April 13 when the film begins at 8. The series explores exile and migration in feature films and documentaries from around the world, including from the US. The second film, “Earth” by Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, will deal with “partition” that divided India and Pakistan in 1947. Another focuses on North African migration to West Germany in the 1970s. “The Second Migration” (African-American migration from the South to the Northern cities) will be featured in a documentary in addition to the Zainichi, Korean migrants living in Japan and affiliated with North Korea. A Cuban film, “Balseros,” about the rafters who attempted to migrate to the US, is also scheduled. We end with a contemporary Senegalese film about migration via the Atlantic to Spain. The films will be introduced by the filmmakers on March 22 and 29 or by BGSU faculty members.   On 22 March, the film viewing will be preceded by a reception at 6:30 in front of the Gish Theater in the hallway.  For the second film screening with the filmmaker present (March 29), a second reception will be held after the screening. This is the last semester before the Gish will be relocated to the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Scheduled films are: MARCH 22 “Persona Non Grata” (2015) Directed by Cellin Gluck, Japan Moving biopic about Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, sometimes called a “Japanese Schindler,” who issued several thousand visas to Jewish refugees in Lithuania before 1941. The film made its U.S. debut at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in 2016. MARCH 23 “Earth” (1999) Directed by Deepa Meethe, Canada/India This award-winning period drama is set in Lahore (Pakistan) during the 1947 partition separating India and Pakistan. One of the few films to explore the haunting ramifications of Partition, it focuses on the point of view of a young girl torn between allegiances. MARCH 29 “Montréal la Blanche (Montreal, White City)” (2016) Directed by Bachir Bensaddek, French Canada The story about a former Algerian pop-star who has fled to Canada to escape the Algerian Civil War (late 1990s) and who finds herself in a taxi cab one Christmas Eve in Montreal with an Algerian cab driver and is…


BG tries to remove barriers to ‘welcoming city’ status

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last year, the city of Bowling Green declared itself a “welcoming community” for immigrants. While the spirit is there, it appears being welcoming is easier said than done. The resolution passed by City Council proclaims “Bowling Green as a welcoming and safe community for immigrants and condemning any discrimination, harassment or unjustified deportation of immigrant residents of Bowling Green.” To show the significance of the resolution, after its adoption, a group of city residents read a portion of the resolution in Vietnamese, Indian, Hindi, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and English. But now what? Members of the solidarity committee of La Conexion recently discussed how to break down barriers for local immigrants, and how to make them aware of Bowling Green’s “welcoming” status. A task force has been working to identify the barriers to attracting and maintaining immigrants in the city, according to Beatriz Maya, of La Conexion. Those include access to work, documentation, housing, transportation, social support systems and language. Many Latinos struggle with housing. “If you are a newcomer, you don’t have a credit history,” Maya said. “We like to save and buy, save and buy. But here, you have to have debt.” Language courses are offered through La Conexion and other organizations, and translators are available with the police. “We have a good relationship with the police,” she said. One of the motivations behind the “welcoming” declaration is the community’s shortage of labor. “We need immigrant workers because we need workers,” Maya said. But how can the city get the word out that it is “welcoming.” “How do we make this welcoming city more visible,” Maya said. “Not a lot of people know that Bowling Green is a welcoming city.” Amanda Schackow, of La Conexion, agreed that visibility is a big concern. “They can make all of these changes, but if that message isn’t reaching immigrants, they might as well not be there,” Schackow said. One idea of the task force is to create a “welcoming committee” that would connect newly arriving immigrants with “navigators” to help them with language problems, housing, utilities, food, phone numbers for services. A “navigator” might help an immigrant family through the process of signing a lease or going to the hospital. It was suggested that retirees and BGSU Service Learning students might make good navigators. It was suggested that the city’s welcoming status could…


DACA deadline nears with fate of Dreamers in question

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It is now less than two weeks until the DACA program is set to expire. Meanwhile, the people who came to the U.S. as small children continue to be used as a political football by politicians, according to Beatriz Maya, of the La Conexion organization in Wood County. “It would be a miracle if they could come up with something meaningful in a few days,” Maya said Sunday as members of the La Conexion Solidarity Committee met. “We are expecting the worst.” However, the rulings of two federal courts are keeping the DACA program on life support, explained Amanda Schackow, also of La Conexion. The court rulings are at least allowing renewals, but no one new can be added to DACA. This has local immigrants and their advocates frustrated and fearful. “The Republicans promised to come out with a fix for DACA. That did not happen,” Schackow said. “The Dream Act was not even a conversation.” Ten different attempts at legislation are “floating around,” she said. “There’s no concrete piece of legislation.” Compromise is difficult, with President Donald Trump’s insistence on a border wall, reduction in the total number of immigrants coming in, limits on family members allowed, and an end to the diversity program, Schackow said. Since little can be done about the legislation in limbo, the La Conexion Solidarity Committee has been preparing local families for possible deportation by getting the proper documentation for the children born in the U.S. from Dreamers. “They need to prepare for that terrible eventuality,” Schackow said. Deportations of non-criminal undocumented immigrants have gone up 40 percent in the past year, Schackow said. According to ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality), the top trigger for deportations is traffic stops. Ten or so states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses. But Ohio does not. Those immigrants are often turned over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Undocumented immigrants are given identification numbers with the IRS, so they can pay taxes on their income – but they are not allowed to have driver’s licenses in Ohio. “It’s a political decision,” Schackow said. La Conexion has hosted an educational forum with ABLE about the immigration system, and has organized a rally to gather community support for immigrants. The members write letters to legislators, and have organized visits to Congressman Bob Latta’s office. But the organization is committed…


Local residents persist – return to march for rights

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Andrea Killy-Knight would rather not have to march again next January. “I hope I don’t have to put on my ‘Nasty Woman’ shirt and wave my same signs next year,” Killy-Knight said after this year’s Unity March in Toledo on Sunday. But if she has to march, Killy-Knight and many other Bowling Green residents will put on their pink hats and their walking shoes. “I’ll do it again next year. But I hope the circumstances are different,” she said. Sunday’s march was the second for many local residents who peacefully protested everything from women’s rights to immigration wrongs. For Killy-Knight, who marched in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last year, that meant re-enlisting her sign from a previous rally that read “Your silence will not protect you.” “It was funny, in a disgusting way,” that the signs from last year were still applicable for this march, she said. Sandy Rowland was also in Ann Arbor last year and Toledo this year. “There’s still a big need to let government know that we have a voice, and we have needs that need to be filled,” she said. Armed with her sign that said, “Hate has no home here,” Rowland said this year’s march may not have been as thrilling as last year – but it was a clear sign of unity and strength. “It was very rejuvenating,” she said. “Women have their place. They have their rights.” Joining in the march were also many men and families with children – numbering close to 1,000. “It was a great unified voice,” Rowland said. Maria Simon made up for missing last year’s march by joining in the event on Sunday. “I was at a conference in Atlanta last year,” she said. “It was hard to not be in solidarity with everyone. That’s one of the reasons I really didn’t want to miss this one.” Simon donned her pink hat, and carried her sign stating, “Make America Proud Again,” and “Power to the Polls.” Her favorite sign at the march read “Also, everything else.” “That sign says it all,” Simon said. “The list of grievances goes on and on. There were a variety of people and a variety of issues.” For many marchers, it was their first time taking a political stand. “A lot of men said they were marching for their mothers,” Simon said. “I felt like…


KKK history in Wood County unmasked by BGSU prof

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When the Ku Klux Klan took root in Wood County in the early 1920s, the members wore the traditional white robes and hoods, but there was little secrecy about their activities. There was no need to conceal their hatred since the membership roster included many local politicians, businessmen and ministers. Every Ohio county in the 1920s had an active Klan group, according to Michael E. Brooks, author of the book, “The Ku Klux Klan in Wood County, Ohio.” “Wood County is not particularly unique in having a history of the KKK,” said Brooks, a historian who teaches at BGSU. “What is unique is that the records survived.” Included in those records is a membership ledger that was reportedly rescued from a burn pile in 1976. The ledger, which is included in Brooks’ book, reads like a “Who’s Who” of Wood County, with familiar surnames recorded from every community. Brooks explains that economic uncertainty in the 1920s was one of the most significant factors in the rise of the reborn KKK in Ohio. Newspapers told of historically high unemployment rates, declining farm incomes and sluggish postwar economic growth. Membership records in the Center for Archival Collections at BGSU show that nearly 1,400 members paid dues to the Wood County KKK in 1924 and 1925. Once accepted into the Klan, the new members would be fitted for robes and hoods. Measurements would be taken at the local KKK office, and the information would be submitted to the national Klan headquarters for tailoring. No women or children were allowed. A 1927 phone book lists the KKK as having an address at 182½ S. Main St. in Bowling Green. “They didn’t have to sneak around at night. They could parade around in their robes,” Brooks said. “It was fashionable to be in the Klan.” The Klan was welcomed into many local churches during Sunday morning services. Many of the local ministers were members of the organization, like Rev. Rush A. Powell of the United Brethren Church in Bowling Green. Powell, a charter member of the Klan, told his congregation that he stood for the same principles as those held by his hooded guests – against criminal activity, undesirable immigrants and a decline in morality. Recruitment during church services was common. “The extent to which that was going on was very surprising,” Brooks said. Churches were used…


Citizens ask Latta to stop deportation of ‘dreamers’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two months ago, Beatriz Maya sat in U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office waiting for answers on where the congressman stands on deporting “dreamers.” She is still waiting. Maya, executive director of La Conexion, was back in Latta’s Bowling Green office on Monday, this time asking to show the congressman the economic and human side of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.) She and eight others delivered a letter encouraging Latta to talk to local employers who can’t find enough workers to fill jobs, and to families who are at risk of being torn apart. “If he hears their personal stories, we are confident that he will get a different story than what he is hearing in Washington,” she said. Maya wants Latta to meet the local young man who grew up in Wood County, learned carpentry at Penta Career Center, and now works for Rudolph-Libbe. He has no criminal record, yet he is at risk of being deported. “There is nothing you can find in him that would warrant deportation,” she said. Earlier this fall, President Donald Trump announced he would end the DACA program in six months if Congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution. Since it was enacted under President Barack Obama, about 800,000 immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S. illegally have received protections from the program. DACA allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Many of the “dreamers” have been here since they were babies, and America is the only country they know. Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. Their status is renewable every two years. Bowling Green’s city administration has voiced its support of DACA, and has proclaimed the city as a welcoming place for immigrants. But when asked about his stance in September, the local citizens were told that Latta was waiting to make a decision until Speaker Paul Ryan’s task force had studied the issue. When the question was repeated on Monday, Latta’s aide Tim Bosserman said he had not discussed it with the congressman. “But nothing has happened. We are running out of time. We have thousands of dreamers waiting for a solution,” Maya said. Maya fears that Congress will do nothing….


UN official comes home to Ohio to address the plight of refugees

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even as the global refugee crisis grows, efforts to resettle them have stalled. Anne-Marie McGranaghan, an associate resettlement officer for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, reported that the number of refugees resettled this year will be about 70,000, less than half the number resettled in 2016, This comes, she said, after several years of increased numbers. That reflects the United States cutting the number of refugees it will resettle in half while other countries has so many now in the pipeline that have put a pause on their programs. The United States resettles the most of any country, though on a per capita basis other countries, particularly Nordic European nations, do far more. McGranaghan was the keynote speaker Tuesday (Nov. 14) at the Immigrant Ohio Symposium at Bowling Green State University. The focus was “Refugees Past and Present.” Resettlement, McGranaghan said, is just one solution for the world’s 65.6 million refugees. That’s the largest number ever, she said, and is expected to continue to grow. Three countries Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan account for half that number. Next year, McGranaghan said, she expects members of the Rohingya people fleeing to Bangladesh from Myanmar will join that list. Just since August more than 600,000 have left the country formerly known as Burma. McGranaghan said that according to the Geneva Convention on Refugees, passed in 1951 to deal with Europeans cast adrift after World War II, “a refugee is a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution.” That can be because of race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, or social group. Those in the latter category could be a gay man fleeing a country where homosexuality is outlawed and they face persecution and death or a young woman facing early marriage or genital mutilation. Often UNHRC officers face tough choices. They may have just 1,000 slots for refugees to go to, but 100,000 people seeking those slots. McGranaghan said that a determination is made on who may be more at risk staying in a camp. It may be a journalist or a woman who is the sole provider for her family and may have to turn to sex work to provide for them. The traditional solutions for refugees are inadequate. The first, she said, is voluntary repatriation back to their home country. “Most refugees want to return to their homeland, but this requires a…


36 immigrants take oath to join the ranks of Americans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ping Liu came to the United States 16 years ago from southern China. In the intervening year, she’s come to love her adopted home, and on Monday she sealed that by becoming a citizen. Now she wants to use her new power as a citizen to insure the openness to immigrants that she experienced is maintained. Ping, who has studied for a Master’s in Business Administration program at Bowling Green State University, was one of 36 immigrants from 20 countries from four continents who became citizens at the Naturalization Ceremony hosted by BGSU. As U.S. District Judge James R. Knepp told them: “You don’t just live here, now you own the place.” Liu, who is a senior development engineer in research and development at First Solar, said that the United States gave her, her husband, and her son, himself a newly naturalized citizen who studies at Ohio State, a chance to advance their educations. Both Liu and her husband came to study for doctorates at Michigan State. Liu said she’d already worked for about eight years in industry in China before she arrived not long before the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She worked in Arizona after getting her PhD before returning to the region to work first at Owens-Illinois and now at First Solar. “In this country, there’s a lot of opportunity and they’re open to foreigners,” she said before the ceremony. “Those are the two sides we appreciate a lot.” Still she’s seen in the last year more negativity toward immigrants. “I can see that the atmosphere not as open.” She’s not experienced that herself, but she’s read the reports of “discrimination and tragedy” and seen the comments on social media. That has her concerned, and though she’s not that interested in politics, she will use her new citizenship to see that others have the opportunity her family has had. “I love this country, and I benefit a lot,” she said. “It provides opportunity for foreigners.” Her travels around the world make her appreciate what the United States has to offer. Liu also understands what immigrants contribute to this country.  “That’s why America can grow, when we work and contribute our talents. In my work, I can help resolve problems and can help industry grow.” U.S. District Judge Sarah Lioi, who presided over the ceremony with Knepp, echoed those sentiments. “It is the energy…


Scarlet Sevits: Fear & stigma of refugees “distort the very ideals this nation was founded on”

  The fact that we associate the area of the Middle East with terrorism is a fundamentally incorrect generalization.  This generalization has grown into a dangerous stigma that puts blinders on our view of the world, and it’s time we acknowledge and fight it. Imagine a person from the Middle East.  It’s more than likely that the image you conjure in your mind includes two very essential links: Muslim and terrorism.  We tend to associate the general area of the Middle East with the religion of Islam, and Islam has become linked to terrorism.  This stigma surrounding Middle Eastern countries has come to play a dangerous role in how we consider immigration reform in the United States.  Because we associate entire nations with the threat of terrorism, entire nations are barred from entry into the U.S.   Some context might help.  The immigration ban in this country has gone through three iterations.  The first barred entry for citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.  The second iteration excluded Iraq from the list of nations.  The most recent version includes Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.  Six of these nations have Muslim-heavy populations, an attribute of the immigration law that has not changed throughout the iterations, and from which most of the constitutional problems with the law arise.  In the latest ban, criteria given for why the specific countries were chosen was boiled down to the fact that these nations did not comply with the United States’ security requirements.  This reason was not included in the first to versions of the ban, which clearly says to me that this criteria was added to improve the legality of an otherwise illegal and unconstitutional ban. Immigration has been a foundational aspect of the United States since its inception.  My own grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1956 as they fled Soviet oppression.  Imagine if my grandparents had been lumped together with some of the radical rebels that were fighting in the Hungarian Revolution at the time.  Imagine if they had been deemed “dangerous” based on the actions of a few of their kinsman.  I would not be alive if not for the opening arms of the United States, and yet, so many others are being denied this chance at life right now by our country.  Danger isn’t even a part of the question any…


Naturalization ceremony, Vagabrothers part of International Education Week at BGSU

Bowling Green State University will celebrate International Education Week 2017 Nov. 13-18. Presented by International Programs and Partnerships, the week is a community celebration of global culture and diversity, with free activities open to all, and opportunities to learn about everything from international careers to international travel. Highlighting the week on Thursday (Nov. 16) will be a visit by the globetrotting Vagabrothers, award-winning travel videographers photographers and writers. The brothers, Marko and Alex Ayling, are globally engaged storytellers on a mission to explore the planet by connecting with other young people and inspiring viewers to do the same. Students will gain knowledge, advice and general travel tips through the brothers’ experience of visiting more than 30 countries. Their entertaining talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Students can get important information on working abroad at the International Career Panel Discussion, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 15) in 208 Union. A panel of five professionals with experience working in international education, business, nonprofits and government will share their stories and offer advice to students considering similar careers. Jeffery Jackson, Career Center director, will facilitate the discussion. The week’s events begin Monday (Nov. 13) when BGSU hosts a naturalization ceremony for 36 new citizens at 11 a.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Among those being naturalized are a current student, Ping Liu from China, in the professional MBA program, and former student Matias Razo Alvizo from Mexico, who attended BGSU Firelands from 2009-11. Two BGSU alumni will officiate: U.S. District Court Magistrate James Knepp, a 1987 BGSU graduate in mass communication, and U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi, a 1983 graduate in political science. Danijela Tomic, BGSU head women’s volleyball coach, will be the guest speaker. A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tomic became a U.S. citizen in September. In honor of the occasion, international student organizations will have displays and information at the tables outside Falcon Outfitters. That evening, a Diversity and Education Abroad discussion will take place from 6-7 p.m. in 314 Union. A diverse student panel of students who successfully participated in an education abroad experience will share how they overcame barriers both real and perceived. On Tuesday, the third generation of Hoskins Global Scholars who have returned from their education abroad stays will give presentations about their experiences from 1-5 p.m. in 201 University Hall. The second Immigrant Ohio conference will be held from 9 a.m….


BG gets tips on how to become ‘welcoming community’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has declared itself a “welcoming community.” But what does that really mean? And how exactly can it be accomplished? Earlier this year at the urging of the city’s Human Relations Commission, Bowling Green City Council adopted a resolution stating the city was welcoming. “All communities say they are welcoming,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, co-chair of the Human Relations Commission. “We always know any community can be better.” The commission wants Bowling Green and its residents to view immigrants as a benefit – not a detriment to the community – and to realize the economics of immigration. Several cities in the “rust belt” have started looking at immigrants in a different light than some areas of the nation. In many Midwest cities, immigrants are now seen as a solution to critical labor shortages and as ways to strengthen the local economy Several manufacturers in Bowling Green have expressed concerns recently about the labor force being too small to fill their needs. So last week, Bowling Green welcomed home Steve Tobocman, whose great-grandfather immigrated to this community in the beginning of the 20th century after fleeing the persecution of Jews in Russia. Tobocman is executive director of Global Detroit, which works to leverage international talent to fill businesses’ unmet needs, help immigrant entrepreneurs, revitalize neighborhoods, and build an inclusive region. Tobocman, an attorney and former Michigan state legislator, complimented Bowling Green for taking the first step to becoming a truly welcoming community. “I congratulate your group for what you have done already,” he said – stressing that it is a big step for a community like Bowling Green, which is made up of just 2 percent “newcomers.” “To say that’s pretty profound,” Tobocman said of the city’s resolution. The current political climate has stirred a lot of discussion about what it means to be an American, Tobocman said. “Immigrant welcoming works best when it’s rooted in the national character,” he said. Immigrants and refugees “will be here beyond this temporary debate.” But smart communities are talking about the “economics of welcoming.” Tobocman works with several such cities in Michigan and Ohio. “These are all communities that on their own have decided it is in their own self interest to be welcoming to immigrants and newcomers,” he said. Many are larger cities with distressed economic centers – like Detroit. “They’ve all created…


Treehouse Troupe takes “New Kid” on the road to share lessons about tolerance

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bullying is an international language. That’s a lesson Nic learns on her first day in an American school. She had moved with her family to the United States from Homeland, not speaking English, and now she must adjust to life among strangers. That’s the plot of “New Kid,” a play by Dennis Foon being staged in schools around the region by Bowling Green State University’s Treehouse Troupe. Recently the troupe staged “New Kid” in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library for home-schooled students and students from St. Aloysius. We meet Nic played by Shannan Bingham and her mother played by Kristyn Curnow as they discuss leaving their country Homeland. The backdrop is colorful and their costumes are an iridescent green. Though they say they don’t know English, their lines come out as English, and the audience knows what they are saying. Soon Nic is in her new school, shyly joining two other students, Mencha (Autumn Chisholm) and Mug (Harmon Andrews) at recess. Before she comes out the audience gets to listen in on Mencha and Mug’s conversation. Not that it will do them any good. They’re animated as they chat but the words frustrate comprehension. Clearly it’s a language, just not one we understand. Nor as it turns out any other language. The actors’ body gestures, make it clear that they are negotiating some sort of exchange. The language was made up by the playwright to give youngsters a sense of what it’s like to be in a place where you can’t understand what anyone else is saying. Nic has a rough time. Mug starts by teasing and then taunts her, even breaking the bowl her friends back in Homeland gave her as a going away present. She learns one word “Groc,” an ethnic slur. She flees school. Nic returns to school the next day intent of staying away from the others. But Mencha proves to be a good hearted sort who befriends her and helps her deal with Mug’s bullying. Emily Aguilar, who directs the troupe, said she was attracted to the script because it tackles the subject of bullying specifically as it relates to immigration in a way that appeals to a wide age range of students. The play has been staged for students from kindergarten to grade 8. Dealing with xenophobia is important “especially today in our current climate,” she…


Global Detroit leader to speak on immigrant & the economy

Building Global: Welcoming Immigrants and Economic Growth, a conversation with Steve Tobocman, of Global Detroit, will be presented Thursday November 2, 2017, 6-7:30 p.m. in the  Atrium of the Wood County Public Library, Bowling Green. Since 2009,  Tobocman has spearheaded Global Detroit, www.globaldetroit.com, and led the creation and growth of the Welcoming Economies Global Network , a regional Network of over a dozen regional economic development initiatives from across the Midwest working to address critical labor shortages and economic revitalization needs by tapping into the economic development opportunities created by immigrants as valued contributors to local economies. Tobocman served as the State Representative from Michigan 12th State House focusing his work on economic development. He earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School and a Masters in Public Policy from U of M’s Ford School of Public Policy. Event organized by the City of Bowling Green Human Relations Commission, the Welcome BG Task Force, the Bowling Green Economic Development, and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. Opening remarks by Mayor Edwards.  


La Conexion raises funds to assist DACA dreamers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In a time when businesses are lamenting a lack of workers, the members of La Conexion de Wood County’s Immigrant Solidarity Committee wonder why some people want to make it hard for immigrant laborers to stay here. In its most recent action, the committee launched a fundraising campaign to help those with DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – status stay in the country. The campaign was successful in raising the money to help two local men renew their DACA status. That paperwork costs $495 and must be filed every two years. One of the men Rudy Cruz of Pemberville attended a recent committee meeting to speak about his situation. Cruz came with his parents from Guatemala when he was too young to remember. He also has younger siblings who were born here. Cruz grew up in Pemberville, attended Eastwood schools, and attended Penta Career Center to study carpentry. He graduated in 2016. He now works for Rudolph-Libbe. Recently he spent a week working in Marathon, Florida, helping repair damage from Hurricane Irma. He said he was grateful for the committee for its support. La Conexion is “a nice organization that helps.” Another man who works at a local factory also received support. These are the kind of skilled workers local employers say they need, said Beatriz Maya, the executive director of La Conexion. Immigrants work in all sectors of industry, both low skill and high skill, not just in agriculture. “This is becoming a critical issue,” Maya said. “If we don’t address it, employers who want to expand, to grow, won’t be able to.” Immigration status isn’t the only problem, she said. Many immigrants have difficulty getting the credit reports needed to find housing. La Conexion has also raised funds so family members of immigrants who are here without documents, and cannot get them, can get passports in case their family member is deported and they need to join with them.   Amanda Schackow, a member of the solidarity committee, gave a rundown of the various pieces of legislation addressing DACA. The Dream Act, she said, “is the one to fight for. It covers the most people. … It essentially expands what we have under DACA.” La Conexion members visited U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s field office recently, but came away without a clear idea about where the Republican congressman stood. The committee…