Students travel back in time, learn about immigration

By Kelly Murphy
November 18, 2005

On Nov. 8 at a program called the Assembly of the Whole, students, faculty along with guest speakers, Father Belecki and President Iadarola gathered to acknowledge the recipients of the Mastronardi award, recognize Cabrini High school in New Orleans and take a tour through a tenement in Manhattans Lower East side in the late 19th century.

This information packed program began at 12:30 in Grace Hall with an opening prayer given by Belecki followed by a short introduction by President Iadarola. Iadarola gave recognition to the faculty and staff members who planned Cabrini’s inaugural Cabrini Week.

Cabrini Day and the newly founded Cabrini week is a tradition at Cabrini College. It is a “day that we pause and reflect to honor our Cabrini Heritage,” stated Margaret Fox Tully, vice president of mission integration and human resources.

Dr. Iadarola than spoke about the theme of immigration, “we haven’t exhausted this topic,” Iadarola claimed. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the college patron, dedicated her life to immigrants and immigration. Therefore as a college founded in her name awareness and education towards the topic are stressed. “We need to grasp what the issues are, and allow our hearts and minds to be enlightened,” Dr. Iadarola stated.

With that thought in mind, Dr. Mary Laver introduced this year’s winners of the Mastronardi Award. According to the Wolfington Center this award, “is given to Cabrini College students who have distinguished themselves through service to community & world, and whose GPA and financial aid status qualifies them to receive the award.” This year the five winners were Deidre Beadle, Chris Friel, Tracy Johnson, Sharon Kolankiewicz and Phil Nicolo. These students have dedicated tremendous efforts to aiding the community and there efforts have even been recognized on a national level.

At the ceremony the president of Cabrini High school in New Orleans was also in attendance. Three graduates of the high school who are now students at Cabrini College presented Ardley Haneman with a check for $2,000 due to their fundraising efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Haneman accepted the check graciously with a sense that only victims of the hurricane could truly understand. Coincidentally the principal of the high school was unable to attend because Cabrini High school was reopening its doors the same day for the first time since the disaster.

Professor Angie Corbo then introduced Alex Narvaez and Lokki Chan who are tour guides at the Lower East side Tenement Museum in Manhattan, N.Y. They gave an in depth look at the lives of two immigrant families from Europe living in the same tenement building in the late 19th century. “Tenement actually means apartment building,” Narvaez said, he than went on to say “so we could say Donald Trump lives in a tenement,” to stress that the word tenement has always received negative connotation when in fact it simply means apartment. The negative feelings the word was given are to due the living conditions immigrants faced in the apartment buildings. A slideshow that depicted rooms and living quarters was then shown. They were 20 apartments in the tenement museum. Each apartment was built with one, if lucky two windows and many times there were no utilities except for outhouses. The speaker depicted times where you would have to wait in line at 4 a.m. in December to use the bathroom.

The garment industry was the main business that sustained the Lower East side and sweatshops were as common as a family with six children. With sweatshops came abuse in the garment industry. People worked for nothing and received no benefits prior to labor laws. Even with the formation of unions in the early 1900’s people were viewed as machines and were easily replaceable with the great influx of immigrants still coming to the United Stated who were more than willing to take any job they could get.

Narvaez then asked the audience to look at their own clothing labels and the persons next to them to see where the clothes were made. He demonstrated the point that sweatshops still exists today and even if clothes say made in the U.S.A., that can be misleading due to the fact that the clothes could have only been assembled here or made on a U.S territory like Guam or Puerto Rico.

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Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Kelly Murphy

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