The Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute Blog
Moving tribute by Becas Selection Committee member and loyal supporter, Dr. Alexandra Délano Alonso
For the past five years I have had the great honor to serve on the selection committee of the CUNY-IME Becas. The first words that come to mind when I reflect on my participation in this program are gratitude, transformation, inspiration, hope. One cannot read your applications without a deep change in how we see and experience the world. As much as I’ve studied migration for many years, written about it and taught courses about it, your stories are the most powerful force to understand what is at stake when families are forced to put their lives in danger, when parents are separated from children, when siblings are separated from their brothers and sisters, all in search for a better life across the border.
Your stories show what is at stake when a system is constructed around the notion that some lives matter more than others, that some have the right to have rights and some don’t. And that denial of rights is based on a paper that determines whether or not you are recognized as part of a community.
Your stories, your courage in sharing them, are an enduring source of hope and inspiration, because you’ve fought against all obstacles; most of all, you’ve fought against systems and people who say it is not possible. You challenge them, you push them to see, to recognize, to include, to open, to shift, to change.
Your stories are also stories about community. About a deep commitment and an awareness that we are part of each other. In lak’ech. Tú eres mi otro yo. And that we should always give all that we can to help each other. You’ve done it while working one, two, three jobs, and going to school, and helping at home, without even questioning that volunteering and working for your community is a priority. With a deep sense of solidarity, energy and passion to fight for your brothers and sisters –the ones at home, who now know it is possible to go to college--, and many others you don’t know, but you know are part of our communities, and need your voices, need your support and need to continue fighting.
That’s the power of transformation and inspiration that you create by sharing your story.
But you are not just that story. You are creative, talented, engaged individuals that are invested in writing a new story, in changing our worlds here and there, aquí y allá; imagining and creating a different future for the countries you call home. People say over and over how your being bicultural, binational, bilingual is a source of opportunity for you, for others, for the countries involved. But what that bi-something means and how it can be a source of redefining, rebuilding, mending, reimagining is up to you.
And it gives me great hope to know that. I’ve read your words, I’ve seeen you in action, leading workshops, making music, films, protesting on the streets, and I know that you are already changing that world. The Becas are a way of recognizing that and to tell you to keep going. To tell you that your hard work is recognized and appreciated. To tell you that you are going in the right direction and you have opened doors that will lead to other doors, even if at times it seems impossible.
In addition to a Beca, through the community created by the Jaime Lucero Institute for Mexican Studies – a model for those of us working on education and trying to open up more opportunities for students that need this kind of support—you now have each other, an amazing network and a community to rely on and to build with; and a new possibility to open doors for others.
So today I congratulate you. I celebrate with you and your families, and most of all I thank you for fighting, for sharing, inspiring and transforming us and our worlds.