Students interested in issues of immigration and migration had a special opportunity in late November to meet with visitors to York from partner institutions in the United States and Mexico.
The delegations travelled to York University from Chicago-based DePaul and Loyola universities, and from Mexico’s Universidad Iberoamericana and Universidad de Guanajuato’s León Campus. While at York on Nov. 23 and 24, the group met with eight York undergraduate students, representatives from York International, and York Professors Margaret Beare, the interim chair of the Department of Sociology, and Narda Razack, associate dean external in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.
The meetings were initiated by York sociology Professor Hira Singh (right), with support funding from the government of Canada (see YFile, Nov. 10, 2010). “This [exchange] is an excellent opportunity for York students in programs like sociology, psychology and social work to take courses and do practicums on migration-related issues in the United States or Mexico," said Singh. "And for students from these countries to study with us. There is also potential for some of [our] students’ case study work to be included in a book being developed on North American migration issues.”
This past year, students from Concordia University in Montreal and from universities in Mexico and the US participated in the new exchange program. In the winter term, two York psychology students from the Faculty of Health will be the first to take part in the program, with one student travelling to the Universidad de Guanajuato and the other to Loyola University. One student from DePaul University is currently at York University studying in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).
Above: Front row, from left, Iberoamericana University Professor Graciela Polanco-Hernández, Roberto Hernández and DePaul University Professor Stephen Haymes. Back row, from left, Universidad de Guanajuato Professor Tonatiuh Garcia Campos, York Professor Narda Razack, Loyola Professor Maria Vidal de Haymes, York sociology Professor Hira Singh and Collette Murray (LAPS coordinator, external)
“Our objective is for students to have a positive experience learning about migration culture, in improving their language skills – Spanish or English, and in erasing stereotypes,” said Iberoamericana University Professor Graciela Polanco-Hernández. “Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in their studies for one or two terms, but I think two terms provides a richer and fuller experience.”
Students interested in participating in the next cycle of the exchange program should submit an application to York International by Monday, Dec. 19. “Students from any undergraduate program (except Schulich) can apply,” said Lee Mendelsohn-LiVolsi, York International education abroad adviser. “They have to act fast, but it is worth it. The deadline for applications to York International is Dec. 19. We are looking forward to a good response from students. It’s a fantastic new exchange program and we can place several qualified students – who can each receive a $5,000 stipend – for their exchange during the 2012-2013 academic year.”
“I can see great benefits to all students in this exchange program," said Razack. "Migration issues are an excellent subject of study for students in social work and sociology, and are particularly topical for these three countries. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to gain new insights through critical discourse and practice in the area of migrant and refugee studies now, and what we will face in the coming years and decades.”
Loyola Professor Maria Vidal de Haymes reiterated Razack's comments. "Migration is a huge issue facing our three nations. This tri-national program is designed to encourage the study of migration issues, migration culture, immigration, refugees, in areas like the psychology and sociology of migration, for example, but could extend to legal issues, art, music, health – the possibilities are many and unique to each student.”
Right: The group met their York peers for the first time and engaged in discussions with prospective students
“I’d love to see some of our sociology students on this exchange," said Beare. "The program is a wonderful opportunity to learn and do field work – gaining valuable skills and experiences along the way.”
DePaul University Professor Stephen Haymes said the program attracts students from all walks of life who are interested in migration issues that are common to all peoples. “DePaul [University] is a Vincentian Catholic university committed to social justice and is quite open and diverse,” said Haymes. “We have a fairly large Muslim student population, as well as students from other faiths. This program has attracted students from different academic disciplines and professions.”
“Loyola is similar to DePaul. We are a Jesuit university with a similarly diverse student body. We currently have a Jewish student on exchange to Concordia," said Vidal de Haymes. "The schools are a mix of secular and non-secular institutions, but the program itself is secular.”
Universidad de Guanajuato Professor Tonatiuh Garcia Campos issued a personal invitation to York students, citing authentic Mexican cuisine as an added benefit.
A final reminder that the deadline for applications to York International for this international exchange is Dec. 19. For more information, please contact Hira Singh at email@example.com or Lee Mendelsohn-LiVolsi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Edward Fenner, York International