Dialogues on Immigrant Integration

Since 2007 the Sewall Academic Program has worked with Dialogues on Immigrant Integration (DII) to develop an innovative and influential set of dialogues between students and residence hall workers at Sewall Hall. Dialogues on Immigrant Integration is a Boulder County Community Services program that facilitates conversations between immigrants and native-born citizens in order to explore issues of immigrant integration and develop collaborative responses to the problems that immigration poses for immigrants and native-born citizens alike.

 

Dialogue Day participants discuss immigration in small groups over lunchDialogues at Sewall take place in two formats: 1) Dialogue Days that provide day-long conversations/ activities for groups of 60+ students and workers and 2) classroom dialogues that engage 3-4 workers in conversation with one group of students during a class period.

 

Immigrant Integration Dialogue Days at Sewall Hall

Dialogue Days bring approximately 60 CU students and 30 immigrant workers together for a day-long dialogue on immigration. Student evaluation forms and feedback from immigrant workers indicate that these dialogues have

  • broadened students’ awareness of the major issues surrounding citizenship and immigration
  • fostered respect and understanding among participants so that they are more comfortable communicating in classrooms, dining halls, and other university settings.

 

In-Class Dialogues on Immigrant Integration

In-class dialogues incorporate dialogues between housing personnel and students into specific Sewall classes from across a wide spectrum of disciplines. All of the faculty who choose to incorporate DII into their classes teach course content that provides a framework for discussing immigrant integration so that dialogues between students and workers focus on topics that students are studying in class. Student and worker responses indicate that

  • in-class dialogues have deepened their understanding of the immigrant experience; one student wrote that hearing the stories of the workers made immigration “come to life” for her;
  • workers overwhelmingly support the in-class dialogues; they feel included in the Sewall community and derive satisfaction from the fact that their stories contribute to students’ understanding of the immigration issue;
  • developing a personal connection between workers and students makes work more satisfying for housing workers and fosters a sense of appreciation among students for housing workers.

Dialogue Day participants discuss immigrant experiences

The Operations Manager of Housing and Dining Services has graciously supported both Dialogue Days and Dialogues in the classroom by giving workers administrative leave to participate in these programs during work hours.