Lane Community College at Florence is hosting a public event entitled “Faces of Florence” on Tuesday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in Room 103 on the campus, at 3149 Oak St. in Florence.
“As our local college, we are pleased to offer this educational gathering to our community, and to learn about the many faces of Florence,” said Russ Pierson, Dean of the LCC Florence Center. “Whatever our political inclinations may be on issues around immigration, we can all agree that Florence and its environs is a region that welcomes and supports people of many nationalities and ethnicities who all contribute to building a strong and vibrant community.”
The event is a response, in part, to the recent activities in town that targeted and arrested a number of undocumented immigrants.
Those arrests were conducted by members of Homeland Security’s Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) task force and their actions have been the source of heated discussions at city council and school board meetings since they occurred last month.
Pierson referenced the arrests as part of the reason for the timing of the “Faces of Florence” event.
“Two of the people taken by ICE in Florence a month or so back have been a part of our immigrant and international student community at LCC, and we certainly want to support all of our students who feel particularly vulnerable this season,” Pierson said. “We also recognize our role as an educational institution in Florence and western Lane County, and one of the best ways to educate ourselves,maybe especially on difficult and complicated issues, is to listen to one another’s stories.”
The State of Oregon and the City of Florence already have in place policies and guidelines for dealing with the situation of undocumented students in the local district.
The event at LCC seeks to help residents understand the life story of immigrant students living in Florence, according to Pierson.
“We are excited to introduce the community to this vibrant population of international and immigrant students who are a wonderful part of our life together, who are working hard,” he said. “In some cases to learn English, to take citizenship classes or to brush up on their educational skills in order to become credit students working toward their Associate of Arts degree.”
According to information provided by LCC, there are currently about 22 immigrant students currently enrolled in English Language Learner and Citizenship programs on the Florence campus. These students are from Mexico, China and the Phillipines. There are also four or five immigrant students studying that are originally from Russia and Mexico.
Pierson wants the community to have the opportunity to meet the foreign students and believes they will appreciate the lengths to which his students have gone to study and work here.
“They are all working to better their English language skills in order to improve their opportunities. Some are studying to become U.S. citizens and some are upgrading their skills to take placement tests to enter the college program at LCC,” said Pierson, who points out that there have been a number of students who have received GED’s here and gone on to college.
Nearly all of the students work at various jobs in town, with the exception of a couple who are retired people and stay-at-home moms.
For more information on the Faces of Florence event call 541-997-8444.