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Carver Hall showcases immigration stories

Carly Busfield
Panelists and host onstage beginning discussion.

From 5-7 p.m., Bloomsburg University’s K.S Gross Auditorium, located within Carver Hall, showcases  ‘Immigration Stories: From the Statue of Liberty to Northeast Pennsylvania.’

Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg’s Conversations for the Common Good program and WVIA co-host the event, featuring a screening of the PBS Iconic America episode titled “The Statue of Liberty.” The free event was filmed for WVIA-TV and will be available for later viewing through broadcast or on-demand.

Following the screening, a panel discussion, moderated by individuals from northeastern Pennsylvania who have their own immigration stories, took place.

In addition to the discussion and screening, Wyatt Diltz, a Central Columbia school district student, read a poem he wrote called “The Statue of Liberty” to the audience.

During the discussion, panelists not only reflect on the PBS film but also share personal experiences and stories of immigrants they’ve encountered in their professional roles within the United States.

Panelists Background

The panelists for the event include Jenny Gonzalez Monge, a Licensed Social Worker who has been a strong advocate for immigrants and civil rights in northeastern Pennsylvania. She has worked at Community Justice Project (CJP) since 2013, addressing various issues related to public benefits, language access, subsidized housing, and immigrants’ rights. Gonzalez Monge is also a co-founder of the Students Together Achieving Remarkable Success mentoring program at Marywood University.

Alejandra Marroquin, originally from Guatemala, serves as the community outreach coordinator at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Having emigrated to the U.S. in 1993 with her family, she has dedicated her career to supporting the Latina/o/x population in the region.

Marroquin has held positions at various social service organizations, including St. John Neumann Roman Catholic Church, Catholic Social Services, Friendship House in Scranton, and the Lackawanna/Susquehanna Behavioral Health Program.

Ushu Mukelo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant in 2015 after spending twelve years in refugee camps in Uganda. He holds certifications in accounting and customer service software from Lackawanna College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Scranton.

Mukelo, who is multilingual in eight dialects, is currently the president and chief executive officer of Profficially LLC, a translation and interpretation company in Scranton that also provides resettlement assistance for refugees, particularly for the Congolese community. His efforts are directed toward ensuring that everyone has access to public benefits, fair housing, and opportunities for education and employment.

Sharing Immigration Stories

The discussion began around 6:30 with Alejandra Marroquin, the first to share their story. The Guatemalan native came to the United States at the age of 13, seeking a better life with her family. Working on issues of diversity and inclusion and access to mental health services are some of Alejandra’s current passions. At the present time, she is a resident of Dunmore, Pennsylvania.

Marroquin started with noting that the day of immigration is an everlasting memory for all immigrants. She reminisced arriving in January with the snow falling around her. This was a fresh start to a new life for her and her family, and a day she will never forget.

Ushu Mukelo immigrated to the Scranton area from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fleeing rebellion and refugee camps. Mukelo arrived to the U.S. at age 20, leaving behind over twelve years spent in refugee camps with his family. Now, Mukelo is an important figure representing the Scranton community and running Profficially LLC as President and CEO.

Gonzalez Monge shares a different story from the others, yet just as impactful. She is actually a first generation American from immigrant parents native to El Salvador and Mexico.

A hardship she faced was during her early education when she was treated differently than her other classmates. Although she was born and raised in the United States, many of her educators referred to her as the “foreign student” because of her immigrant parents. This issue was apparent from her early years up to high school, which was a more diverse setting.

These three speakers faced many hardships before arriving, upon arrival, and being related to immigrants. The ignorance and prejudice still exists each day all over the world as many people are attempting to improve their living situations.  The ‘Immigration Stories: From the Statue of Liberty to Northeast Pennsylvania’ is an impactful way to grasp a better understanding the emotional aspect of these transitions.

The Impact of the Film

In PBS/Iconic America’s “The Statue of Liberty,” a captivating and comprehensive documentary spanning approximately 90 minutes, viewers embark on an enlightening journey through the historical and cultural significance of one of America’s most iconic landmarks.

The film traces the statue’s genesis as a heartfelt gift from France to the United States, delving into the visionary work of sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and the intricate challenges faced during its assembly in New York Harbor.

With striking visuals, archival treasures, and interviews with esteemed historians, the documentary vividly portrays Lady Liberty’s transformation into an enduring symbol of hope, freedom, and democracy for countless immigrants who arrived on American shores.

Beyond its historical narrative, “The Statue of Liberty” thoughtfully explores the profound impact this monument has had on diverse communities, including the Spanish-speaking population. It serves as a poignant reminder of the statue’s role as a beacon of opportunity and the embodiment of the American Dream.

Embracing the Associated Press (AP) style guidelines, this documentary presents an invaluable tribute to an emblem that continues to resonate with the ideals of democracy and liberty, making it a watch for both history aficionados and those eager to immerse themselves in America’s heritage.


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Carly Busfield, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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