Julie VanDusky-Allen, assistant professor of political science, engaged her POLS 423: Latin American Politics students in the community to explore how her course related to current immigrant related issues in Boise. Through their service-learning experiences, her students grappled first hand with the immigration process and the issues associated with it.
To facilitate applied, community-based learning in the class, VanDusky-Allen collaborated with Maria Andrade and Ben Stein from Immigrant Justice Idaho, a local non-profit organization that offers low-cost legal services for immigrants. As part of their coursework, students worked with Immigrant Justice Idaho by researching country backgrounds, translating for clients and helping create Radio Boise’s Immigration Minute, which focuses on immigration facts. Through these service-learning opportunities, students learned about the challenges faced by people immigrating to Idaho and applying for asylum, permanent resident status and citizenship in the U.S.
Students’ final presentations demonstrated highly engaged, personal learning. One student stated that her service-learning work helped her to be more aware of the human stories behind immigration law and to be more compassionate. Other students commented that their work helped them overcome previous stereotypes. Others said that the work helped them understand how U.S. foreign policy has had a lasting impact on life in other countries, which could influence immigration patterns.
Throughout the semester, VanDusky-Allen attended the Service Learning Faculty Learning Community in order to incorporate best practices into her course. She currently is exploring other collaborative work and potential service-learning experiences with Immigrant Justice Idaho.