Solidarity event promotes acceptance
Students, staff and faculty gathered at the Kirkwood Community College Café on Feb. 7 to speak about the welcoming environment at the college.
Staff held up signs in various languages that translated into peace, in response to the recent “Travel Ban” signed by United States President Donald Trump.
“I don’t think anybody should feel like they don’t belong here in America because we all at one point or another immigrated here,” said Magge Krizan, education major and organizer of the event.
Krizan said she received help in putting the event together from multiple departments, staff and faculty members on campus. The Dean of Students and Student Life staff were just a few of those who helped out with executing the event so quickly, said Krizan.
Attendees showed their support by listening to stories told by guest speakers. Krizan spoke briefly about liberty and justice for all and Prince Nabuyoli, electrical engineering major, spoke about becoming an American.
Nabuyoli, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said, “I came as a refugee and found challenges along the way, including speaking English.”
Nabuyoli spoke of how learning English helped him score higher on his Compass Test and brought him new opportunities such as providing for himself and his family.
He said, “Just stay focused and you will achieve what you want. Don’t give up. This is your land and your opportunity.”
Betsy Baertlein, English instructor at Kirkwood, spoke about accepting diversity, her background with refugees and shared her story of her upbringing.
Baertlein explained how coming from a small town and tutoring refugees has shaped her views. She said, “I teach them English and they teach me about life in return.”
The event brought together international, out of state and native Iowan students, faculty and staff.
“Our world is full hate and this moment was pure. It’s good to see people come together as one,” said Emily Holtz, nursing major.
Dean of Social Sciences Brooke Strahn-Koller praised Krizan and said she was “very proud of Magge.” She added, “The turn out was good and really showed the support of Kirkwood Community College.” Kirkwood has close to 400 international students.
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