Mercyhurst University is no stranger to helping immigrants in the United States and around the world achieve better opportunities at life.
As a campus that has welcomed students from over 44 countries, Mercyhurst has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of international students walk through their gates. This year, as they have done for the past four years, Mercyhurst showed their support with the event “I Stand With Immigrants.”
The I Stand With Immigrants Initiative is a campaign that works to “empower immigrants and their allies to share stories and drive action that demonstrate immigration is good for our communities, economy, and country,” according to their website.
I Stand With Immigrants is powered by FWD.us, a pro-immigration lobbying group that advocates for prison reform, status for undocumented immigrants, particularly for DACA recipients, and higher levels of immigration visas.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was one of the founders of FWD.us, and the group helps run I Stand With Immigrants to celebrate and raise awareness for Immigrant Heritage Month, celebrated every June.
“We do this in recognition of the Sisters of Mercy’s critical concern for immigrants and refugees and to bring awareness to the importance of immigrants to our Erie community,” said Alice Edwards, Ph.D, Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
This year, students had the opportunity to take part in two separate events. On Oct. 27, the Russian, Arabic, Spanish and French Clubs all joined forces to participate in a service project at the Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC), where they met to do a neighborhood cleanup.
The MCRC works with immigrants and refugees to help by offering legal support, ESL (English as a second language) classes, job training and more.
The following day, on Oct. 28, Multicultural Student Services, Campus Ministry and the Department of World Languages and Cultures partnered up to bring Watan, a group of Syrian and Palestinian artists that perform Arabic music, onto campus.
This event took place on the bottom level of the Student Union in Luke’s Landing and students that attended had the opportunity to sample foods from the region while listening to beautiful music played by the visiting musicians.
I Stand With Immigrants generally focuses on three campaigns, #ToImmigrantsWithLove, #ImmigrantHeritageMonth and #CelebrateImmigrants to “allow space for immigrants and their allies to share stories demonstrating how immigration benefits our communities, economy, and country,” says the I Stand with Immigrants website.
“These campaigns provide new avenues for individuals, companies, organizations, and public leaders to take action in support of their immigrant employees, colleagues, constituents, neighbors, and friends — not just during our campaigns like Immigrant Heritage Month, but every day of the year.”
Since most students are not on campus in June to observe and celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month, they have the opportunity to attend events like these at other times of the year to spread that awareness and celebrate immigrants across campus.
This is an annual event, so be sure to look out for the next time the campus holds activities for I Stand With Immigrants.