Immigrant Youth Coalition does not forget its mission
Dreamers Adrift > Undocublog
During the weekend of August 10th to the 12th, youth from across California gathered in Los Angeles with a purpose: to learn, connect, and empower. The collective, Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) had its first ever retreat with close to 30 youth representing the areas of Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, Inland Empire, Riverside, and San Francisco. The IYC retreat was no ordinary happening; due to uncontrolled factors the group had to move to a different location and was faced with last minute questions such as where are we going to sleep? What are we going to eat? What is our budget? And where will the workshops take place? At first this caused anxiety among the IYC members; however, these physical borders did not discourage them from continuing with the mission of the retreat. The weekend was filled with informative workshops, conversations, and long lasting networks. In the end all worked out perfectly, even if workshops were held at a public park with weather close to 100 degrees.
As L.A’s residents regarded with curiosity the group of youth sitting in a circle underneath a tree shade, IYC members discussed isms, community values, an organization skills. In between all of this knowledge there was time for energizers such as the game crossing the border. This game consisted of having each IYC member arrive or reach the other side of the sidewalk (in this case the border) by only being able to use a limited amount of sheets of paper that represented safe space. If a member touched the ground, that sheet of paper was taken away. Everyone had to cross; no one could be left behind.
Out of the three groups formed no one made it to the other side completely and several members were left behind. This game, even though it was a game, hit home for a lot of folks in a metaphorical or satirical way, such as Antonio. In a jokingly manner, Antonio as well as other members who were left behind yelled out “your system is broken, el pollero left us behind, there goes our DREAMs,” among other comments. As the game ended, IYC retreat facilitators gathered everyone to debrief what had just happened. One of the facilitators named Juan asked the youth how was the challenge first approached. In his own words, Juan explains that the game was an interactive way to recognize what happens when organizing. “People have different roles; some people dominate because they are very vocal, while the quiet people who know how to get there don’t get listened to. If we look at the big picture, this is a reminder that sometimes we focus solely on the victory and we leave people behind.” Even though none of the three groups completely made it across the border, Juan mentions to have felt relaxed and enjoyed seeing how the youth questioned the system, or in this case the game.
During the weekend retreat, IYC members demonstrated inclusiveness among different communities. Their political analysis and challenging of different systems remind Juan of the student movements back in the Civil Rights Era. The IYC officially began in January of 2012 and for Juan “is very cool to see the IYC grow this quickly. We are a group of people who criticize not for the sake of criticizing but for the sake of understanding. It is very exciting to look back at the student movements from the 60’s and know that today we as youth are doing something similar for the benefit of the community.” The dedication and respect shown by the IYC youth is a call to action—qualities that make the IYC collective a source of empowered undocumented and unafraid youth.
*The names mentioned in this article are pseudonyms due to and for privacy matters.
Dulce is an undocumented activist and writer from the Bay Area.