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CCSJ’s Project US brings immigration discussion to our own backyard

With a brand new school year comes a brand new set of opportunities. Project US is the Center for Community Service and Justice’s newest service program.

Project U.S. is taking the place of Project Mexico, which involved sending about twenty students from the Loyola community south of the border to experience and assist in the lives of those living in less fortunate societies. This program ran for over 20 years and was very successful but “the program needed a change” according to Christina Harrison, associate director of immersion programs and education. “We still wanted to focus on immigration but we wanted students to see its effects on this side of the border and understand what it means,” she continued. The program focuses on the lives of the immigrants after they have crossed the border to show that the struggle isn’t over when they make it to the United States.

This is how Project U.S. was born. This CCSJ project is very similar to Project Mexico except, instead of traveling to a different country to see the way some people have to live, participants stay in the United States and travel to Apopka, Florida—a largely immigrant area—to stay a week and experience the lives that they are living even here in our own country.

“It is easy to glorify the idea of immigration or to believe what you see on TV,” said Harrison. “A lot of people believe that the immigrants come here and milk the system’s benefits. We want to give students a different perspective.” The name change to Project US serves a dual purpose and brings home the point that immigration is an issue that involves all of us, even in the US.

“Sitting at home, you don’t realize the effect you can have on others,” Briana Ciccarino, service coordinator for poverty awareness and student leader for Project U.S., points out. “This program will let you see the our role and our governments role in changing immigration.”

According to members of CCSJ, trips like these open up peoples understanding of the world. If you are interested in becoming a part of what Harrison calls, “a formative and beneficial experience,” applications are due by October 1 and can be found along with additional information on the CCSJ website, Meetings for Project U.S. begin on October 13 and continue to meet every Monday to build relationships with other members and learn about the issue.

The service trip is the week of January 4-10, 2015 and involves the students staying in pairs at the homes of the immigrants. The students will eat, sleep, and travel with these immigrants to work to observe the lifestyle in which they live. Seniors, juniors, and sophomores with GPAs above a 2.0 and good academic standing are all eligible and welcome to apply for Project U.S.

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CCSJ’s Project US brings immigration discussion to our own backyard