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Latino/a heritage Month - Normal/Bloomington, IL

On September 15th, the first day of Latino Heritage Month, I traveled to Normal, Illinois to do a series of presentations an a keynote speech at the Latin American/Latino Studies annual gala at Illinois State University... At the invitation of Professor Maura Toro-Morn from Illinois State University, who spearheaded the events, I arrived in Normal only to find a full house at the city's Normal Theater, along with press waiting to ask questions about the film.

After the Q&A, the Central Illinois Organizing Project (CIOP) held a prayer vigil in front of the theater. The idea was to bring together folks who didn't know each other and to ask someone to volunteer their story. In my group, a women cried while telling her story: she had come to the U.S. as a school student and when her visa ran out, she worked in all sorts of full-time jobs while studying, experienced humiliation, but endured and was eventually able to get her high-school diploma, then her Bachelor's, and she's now a PhD candidate. She's paid taxes the entire time but she still has no papers. This was just one of the moving stories at the vigil that underscored the human impact of the current immigration system, and the many lives that could be touched by reform.

On the third day, I visited Illinois Wesleyan University for a moving presentation at the Student Center. Professor Kathleen O'Gorman had contacted me a few months earlier, and by coincidence I was already planning to be in the area at ISU, so she put this presentation together quickly and how glad I am! A full house once again and a very intimate conversation with the audience left me energized and wanting to return to these twin cities!

The ISU events were sponsored by: Latin American and Latino Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, Diversity Advocacy, Fell Trust Committee, University Housing Services, Milner Library, Women's and Gender Studies.

The IWU event was sponsored by the Latin American Studies Team of the International Studies Program, the Office of Co-Curricular Programming, the IWU Action Research Center, the Women's Studies Program, the Hispanic Studies Department, and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.



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