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College Club at Atlas DIY


College Club at Atlas DIY
My name is Mary Walle, and I am the Jesuit Volunteer and Immigrant Outreach Fellow for the NYIC. As a Jesuit Volunteer I committed a year to living the four values of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC): Social Justice, Spirituality, Community, and Simple Living. I work full-time with the New York Immigration Coalition, where my primary role is to support the Outreach Providers of the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Initiative. From community organizing to in-home early childhood programming, the Outreach Providers are a diverse group of 26 organizations from across the city that work with the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable immigrants.
One of my favorite parts of my work at the NYIC is going to different events and programs hosted by the Outreach Providers. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Atlas DIY’s College Club, an organization that works closely with the NYIC.
This week at the Atlas DIY College Club, a group of seniors, all college bound, gathered to review applications for Atlas’s summer program: CAMP (College Access for Migrant People). Many of them first came to Atlas by participating in this weeklong camp where they learned about the college application process, visited schools, and worked on their personal statements.
Lauren, Atlas’ Executive Director, passed around the first application: Question 1: How have current immigration policies affected your life, particularly when it comes to issues of higher education? In honor of their confidentiality I won’t share their stories but their words prompted collective emotional response more than once.
Atlas brings together undocumented youth who hail from around the world. At Atlas they can share their struggle of being undocumented (or DACA-mented) and share themselves: be goofy, have fun! The space itself says: “I’m here for you to make me and remake me as you see fit.” The walls have murals and posters in many languages, one wall tracks points and Atlas all-stars, while another is covered in informational materials. There’s a separate room, where Atlas’s mascot, a big cozy bear, lives, that serves as conference room, book club, art space.
The most important part of Atlas, however, is the people who call Atlas home.
I had the opportunity to visit Atlas once before and got a tour when none of the students were there; this time the space was alive with youthful energy, the Atlas youth bantered amongst themselves and Lauren freely. They welcomed me in and we talked about many things ranging from my love for the University of Michigan, to cheesecake, and the correct way to make flan (there was serious disagreement in the room). This summer at CAMP a new group of undocumented youth will be welcomed into the Atlas fold. Perhaps, like the youth in the room this week, they too will make Atlas their home.
Click here for more information: http://www.atlasdiy.org/#!summer-camp/c13k0


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