Immigrants exhibit

UNM students have an opportunity this year to think about the issue of immigration, not really from a political point of view, but from the viewpoint of immigrants.

This year's book for the Lobo Reaching Experience is “Enrique’s Journey,” a novel based on a series of articles in the “Los Angeles Times” that won two Pulitzer Prizes for feature writing and photography. The book follows the quest of a young Honduran body searching for his mother 11 years after she leaves her family to find work in the United States.

“It’s really important for students to have a common academic reading experience,” said Jennifer Gomez-Chavez, Student Academic Success director. “This book gives us a chance to talk about the issues in a deeper way and to think about how we could handle them in a more positive way.”

Freshmen get their first exposure to the book during Freshmen Orientation. They read excerpts and discuss it even before they go to class.

During the academic year, they may read and discuss the book in Freshmen Honors courses, in English or Spanish or Latin American studies courses, or political science or even in some business courses.

A number of lectures, panels, discussions with the author of “Enrique’s Journey” Sonia Nazario, and opportunities for students to write about the issue of immigration during the course of the year.

University Libraries is also exploring the issue of immigration with a new traveling exhibit, “I Have a Name.”

This exhibit, by photographer Tom Feher and writer Robert Adler (UNM, 1968), highlights the struggle of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

UNM students take time to learn about the "I Have A Name" exhibit.

Adler described the project: “I don’t think that either Tom or I knew what we were getting into when we started this project. For Tom, it began with a feeling, as a way to express his indignation at how migrants in the U.S. are at the same time both invisible and depersonalized. As a photographer, he hoped to break through that invisibility with pictures that would express each person’s individuality, give migrants back their faces and names.

"When he asked me to help by interviewing and writing about the people he was photographing, I thought it would be interesting and worthwhile. I certainly didn’t know that it would take more than two years, that we would spend countless hours listening as people poured out their often heartbreaking stories, and that in the end, the experience would change us at least as much as we hoped that it would touch others.

"We came to see the migrants we met and got to know as heroic. Not because they were bigger, stronger, tougher or braver than anyone else – they are not. They are very ordinary men, women and children, more vulnerable and with fewer resources than most, ordinary people whose circumstances have forced them to attempt something extraordinary, without knowing if they will succeed or fail, live or die.

"We met the people whose faces you’ll see more-or-less midway on their journeys, during a very brief respite from the risks and hardships they faced. Every one of them had sacrificed and suffered just to get us as far as Oaxaca, many had been severely traumatized on the road or on the train, and they all had good reasons to be afraid of what lay ahead. Still, they chose to go on. That’s what struck us as heroic."

If you go: A reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 17 from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Zimmerman Learning Commons for dreamers and the public.

Freshmen get their first exposure to the book during Freshmen Orientation. They read excerpts and discuss it even before they go to class.

During the academic year, they may read and discuss the book in Freshmen Honors courses, in English or Spanish or Latin American studies courses, or political science or even in some business courses.

A number of lectures, panels, discussions with the author of “Enrique’s Journey” Sonia Nazario, and opportunities for students to write about the issue of immigration during the course of the year.

University Libraries is also exploring the issue of immigration with a new traveling exhibit, “I Have a Name.”

This exhibit, by photographer Tom Feher and writer Robert Adler (UNM, 1968), highlights the struggle of undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Adler described the project: “I don’t think that either Tom or I knew what we were getting into when we started this project. For Tom, it began with a feeling, as a way to express his indignation at how migrants in the U.S. are at the same time both invisible and depersonalized. As a photographer, he hoped to break through that invisibility with pictures that would express each person’s individuality, give migrants back their faces and names.

"When he asked me to help by interviewing and writing about the people he was photographing, I thought it would be interesting and worthwhile. I certainly didn’t know that it would take more than two years, that we would spend countless hours listening as people poured out their often heartbreaking stories, and that in the end, the experience would change us at least as much as we hoped that it would touch others.

"We came to see the migrants we met and got to know as heroic. Not because they were bigger, stronger, tougher or braver than anyone else – they are not. They are very ordinary men, women and children, more vulnerable and with fewer resources than most, ordinary people whose circumstances have forced them to attempt something extraordinary, without knowing if they will succeed or fail, live or die.

"We met the people whose faces you’ll see more-or-less midway on their journeys, during a very brief respite from the risks and hardships they faced. Every one of them had sacrificed and suffered just to get us as far as Oaxaca, many had been severely traumatized on the road or on the train, and they all had good reasons to be afraid of what lay ahead. Still, they chose to go on. That’s what struck us as heroic.

The "I Have A Name" exhibit continues at the Zimmerman Learning Commons through Saturday, Oct. 10.

"Given everything they had been through, and their fears of what might happen once they set out again, the migrants we spoke with had every reason and every right to be watching out only for themselves. We found it very impressive that all but a few of them were willing to be photographed and interviewed, not because it might help them directly, but because it might help future migrants.

"Under the circumstances this struck us as a remarkably generous thing to do. That generosity of spirit reinforced something that we were told several times, that on the road, cold, hungry, exhausted, it had been people with next to nothing themselves who had given them a pair of shoes or something to eat. The migrants we met truly had nothing to give except their own stories. Those they shared freely.”

The 30 pieces are on display in clusters throughout Zimmerman library until Fall Break on Oct. 10.

University Libraries Latin American/Iberian Collection Curator Suzanne Schadl and Director of Access Services Cindy Pierard brought the exhibit to UNM.

“The exhibit resonated with me for several reasons, but most importantly because its mission to give multiple faces and increased perspective to singular and simplistic terms like "immigrant" and "illegal" is an act of humanism,” Schadl said. “As a humanist working in libraries and archives, it is important to me to support informed debate wherever possible.

"This exhibit, coupled with the Lobo reading selection, Enrique's Journey, offers rich opportunities for that purpose. The timing is perfect, considering much of the debate surrounding US presidential hopefuls.”

The book is available in English and Spanish at the UNM Bookstore, and Albuquerque Public Libraries are also promoting the book to readers in the community. A series of events in November will allow the community to participate when the Nazario visits Albuquerque.