Sasha Savitsky

Sasha Savitsky '20

In the United States, immigrants are not guaranteed a lawyer in immigration courts. This means that everyday, immigrants are sent into court to face highly trained and well-educated government officials without a lawyer by their side. Immigrants, even children and the disabled, are often left with little hope for prevailing in their cases. Immigrant Defense Law Center (ImmDef) is a social justice law firm that positively impacts immigrants' ability to get a fair hearing and win immigration relief by ensuring that immigrants do not have to go into court alone. Immigrants with lawyers are five times more likely to prevail in their cases. This summer I had the unique opportunity to shadow a pro bono attorney and volunteer interpreter doing work for ImmDef in Los Angeles, California. The attorney and interpreter were working with a 15-year old boy from El Salvador named Javier Gonzalez who was petitioning for asylum in the
United States. Javier was petitioning for asylum because he feared being killed by the gangs he had refused to join if he returned to El Salvador. He was specifically targeted by gangs because he was Catholic, regularly attended church, and his family was known for resisting the gangs. Since Javier and his relatives, some of whom still lived in El Salvador, were primarily Spanish speaking, all of their declarations explaining why he needed to leave El Salvador had to be interpreted and translated into English. As a political science and Spanish double major, I found the work that went into building this Javier’s case to be incredibly interesting and meaningful. Organization like ImmDef need young people like us to get involved. They need people to join them and use our abilities and our voices to help them make a difference in the lives of people who have come to the United States seeking a new home and hopes of a better life. Javier’s case is now in order and is waiting to be heard by an immigration court. While he waits for his case to be heard, Javier is able to remain here in the United States where he is living with his father.

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Candy Martinez ’13

Candy Martinez, a doctoral candidate in Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz, has received a Fulbright grant to study how indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, define and cope with trauma.  Full article

 

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Richard Park '16

Since graduation, Richard has been busy travelling before starting work at LinkedIn in October. He was in Asia during the month of June, Europe in July, and now spending 6 weeks in Peru (specifically Cusco and Lima). Thanks to all the various events that the Spanish Department hosted, he has learned to speak the language freely and understand different dialects. Richard is currently using exclusively Spanish working on a hacienda in the village of Ttio for 3 weeks before working at an international hostel in the city of Cusco. He speaks Spanish with his mom all the time and plans on practicing it with fellow employees out in San Francisco. 

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Tatiana Hill '16

Since graduation, Tatiana has begun her academic career as a predoctoral VEST Fellow in the Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Sciences Ph.D. Program at the University Virginia Curry School of Education. Her intended specialization is centered on studying how the unique cognitive development and family interactions within the home of English Language Learners/immigrant students/multilingual students in general (primarily those with Spanish as a first language) contribute to school performance. Ideally, she wants to design programs and educational interventions that celebrate the cultural backgrounds and cognitive advantages of multilingual, multicultural students in order to facilitate learning for ELLs.

During Tatiana’s junior year in college, especially after studying in Barcelona and becoming more cognizant of her own development as a bilingual individual, she realized she wanted to incorporate her studies in Spanish into her vision of pursuing Psychology research. She became very introspective about her own process of acquiring a second language, which led to a desire to promote multilingualism in the United States and ease the transition of English Language Learners, especially first and second generation students, into an English education system.

Tatiana tries to practice Spanish and plans to use Spanish in her research conducting or coding interviews of English Language Learners and their families.

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