Immigrant Voices returns to Basalt on Thursday
In February 2017, communities across the country participated in “A Day Without Immigrants”, a national demonstration of solidarity with their immigrant workforce. Businesses have closed and services have been shut down.
In Aspen, there was little to no impact, recalls Veronica Sacur. She had recently moved to the valley, originally from Mendoza, Argentina, and worked in a restaurant. While there was no tangible action from the day in Aspen, it was still enough to change Sacur’s perspective and show him how influential the valley’s immigrant population is.
“If we were to stop working it would be chaos,” Sacur said. “People have nowhere to go to eat. People who had nowhere to go to buy clothes… It was the day I saw how important and wonderful the immigrant community is. I was proud to be here that day.
As entrenched as the immigrant population is in the Roaring Fork Valley community, there is still work to be done for full integration, according to Basalt-based English in Action. The association teaches English to adults and tries to build intercultural relations.
One of his biggest methods of doing this is to return to the Arts Campus in Willits on Thursday for his “Immigrant Voices” event.
Six locally influential speakers – including Sacur – will share their stories about landing in the valley after being born in foreign countries. Four countries are represented: Argentina de Sacur, Mexico, Taiwan and Poland.
MinTze Wu is a world class violinist now living in Carbondale and born in Taiwan. Alexandra Yajko was the founding principal of Colorado Mountain College, originally from Poland. Sacur is now a Spanish teacher at Waldorf School in Roaring Fork.
The event gives members of the immigrant community a chance to tell their stories, whether they are “fun, sad or happy”. The hope is that the audience will come away with a better understanding and appreciation of local diversity and build the confidence of storytellers to speak publicly in their non-mother tongue.
“Storytelling is a way to personally connect with members of the immigrant community so that you can see their experiences and stories on a more personal level,” said Lara Beaulieu, Executive Director of English in Action. “I think when we can see each other as individuals, a lot of divisions disappear.”
The stories will not be scripted, but were framed and assisted by Alya Howe from Writ Large in Aspen.
Doors open Thursday at 6.30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations to English in Action are encouraged.
Reservations can be made in advance on englishinaction.org.