Immigrant Voices returns to Basalt on Thursday
Six speakers to tell stories of immigrant experience in the valley
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
What: Immigrant Voices from English in Action
Where: The Arts Campus at Willits, 400 Robinson Street, Basalt
When: Thursday, Nov. 11; 7 p.m.
Cost: Free (donation appreciated)
More info: englishinaction.org
In February 2017, communities around the nation participated in “A Day Without Immigrants,” a national protest showing solidarity with their immigrant workforces. Businesses shuttered and services were stopped.
In Aspen, there was little to no impact, Veronica Sacur recalls. She had recently relocated to the valley, originally hailing from Mendoza, Argentina, and was working in a restaurant. While there were no tangible actions from the day in Aspen, it was still enough to shift Sacur’s perspective and show her how influential the immigrant population in the valley is.
“If we were to stop working, it would be chaos,” Sacur said. “People not having anywhere to go to eat. People not having anywhere to go to buy clothes… That’s the day I saw how important the immigrant community is and how great. I was proud to be here that day.”
As ingrained as the immigrant population is in the Roaring Fork Valley community, there’s still work to be done for full integration, according to Basalt-based English in Action. The nonprofit teaches adults English and attempts to build cross-cultural relationships.
One of its largest methods of doing so is returning to The Arts Campus at Willits on Thursday in its “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 — Sacur’s Argentina, Mexico, Taiwan and Poland.
MinTze Wu is a world-class violinist now living in Carbondale who was born in Taiwan. Alexandra Yajko was the founding director of the Colorado Mountain College, originally from Poland. Sacur is now a Spanish teacher at Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork.
The event gives immigrant community members a chance to tell their stories, whether they be “fun, sad or happy.” The hope is the audience walks away with a greater understanding and appreciation of local diversity and builds the confidence of the storytellers to speak publicly in their non-native language.
“Storytelling is a way to connect personally with immigrant community members to be able to see their experiences and stories on a more personal level,” English in Action Executive Director Lara Beaulieu said. “I think that when we can see each other as individuals, a lot of the divisions go away.”
The stories will be unscripted, but have been coached and aided by Alya Howe of Writ Large in Aspen.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free, but donations to English in Action are encouraged.
Reservations can be made in advance at englishinaction.org.
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Alex Rager believes that the search for affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley can sometimes boil down to luck and timing. “When you least expect it and when you most need it is when things happen,” she said.