(Posted October 24, 2019)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. –Juniata College will host a poetry coffeehouse, “Immigrant Voices,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in Ellis Ballroom within Ellis Hall on campus. 

The performances will include songs, prose, poems, and theatrical pieces written by immigrant artists. Each composition will be performed by Juniata students and faculty. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

“I attended the event freshman year because of the baked goods. I joined the class out of interest in discovering and uplifting minority voices.” says Alex Bressler of Altoona, Pa., a senior at the College. “The class shows more perspectives to privileged or close-minded people. It means you have the chance to be educated.”

Sponsored by the English department, the theme of this year’s event — which is the inaugural year for this coffeehouse at Juniata — celebrates and shares immigration stories and immigrant voices. 

“I come from a family of immigrants, so I have heard their stories and struggles,” says Amily Buenrrostro of Medway, Massachusetts, a senior at the College. “I want to make immigrant voices known to the greater public who have no idea what it means to those people to be an immigrant, what it has meant in the past, and what it will mean in the future.”

What always excites me about this course is that people leave a little bit shaken by the pieces that are read,” she continues. “The event leaves an impact and is not something people will forget in a moment.”

The Immigrant Voices performances are organized by Amanda Page, assistant professor of English, and students in her Immigrant Voices course at the College. The practicum class meets once a week for an hour to design and plan the event. In addition to researching immigrant authors, class members organize volunteers, design promotional material, plan decorations, and run the program.

“Immigrant Voices” complements other annual events held by the English department including “Unlock Your Voice,” a poetry coffeehouse that celebrates women’s literature; “Lift Ev’ry Voice,” a poetry coffeehouse that celebrates black literature; and “Queer Voices,” a poetry coffeehouse that celebrates queer literature.

“Literature lets us better understand— and more importantly—empathize with the immigrant experience. Sharing literature in a communal space can help us better understand the diversity of experiences on campus and in all our communities,” says Page. “Complicating dominant narratives about immigration in the U.S. can help us move the national conversation forward—one person at a time.”

--Written by Sierra Waite ’21

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.