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UNAM Chicago organizes a visit for DACA recipients to Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico


"We are Mexicans, but we don't know this country and we are happy to be able to do so," said Susana Salgado, a member of the group of DACA beneficiaries who, thanks to a joint effort of UNAM Chicago, the Office of International Affairs and the Centro Romero, were able to fulfill their dream of going to Mexico to see the land of their ancestors and "defend ourselves from the constant onslaught of discrimination".


DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy that protects approximately 800,000 young people, known as "DREAMers," who entered the United States illegally as children.


This group, composed of six members of the Centro Romero, located in Chicago, and last year's winner of the Alfonso García Robles Award granted by UNAM, visited the main campus of Ciudad Universitaria not only to get to know its wonderful environment, but also to explore the possibility of continuing their studies with the online education programs offered by the country's greatest university.


"The organization of this visit speaks of the university's great commitment to migrant causes and the desire to provide these young people with alternatives to continue their education and to provide them with greater knowledge about the culture of their country of origin," said William Lee, coordinator of International Relations and Affairs at UNAM.


They toured emblematic sites such as the Central Library, the Rectory Tower, the Olympic Stadium, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sculpture Space, and the new National Biodiversity Pavilion.


At the Law School, they were welcomed by its director, Raúl Contreras, who congratulated them for coming to learn about Mexico through the nation's university and emphasized that "Mexican culture is so rich that it transcends time and borders: you, even if you don't know this country, are Mexicans". While the young visitors emphasized that "the idea of this visit is to find in our roots one more reason for pride".


At the Centro de Estudios sobre América del Norte, its academic secretary, Juan Carlos Barrón, invited them to find "ways of exchange with UNAM so that through study, they can find the only way to improve themselves: studying is the only way not to be seen as victims but as worthy citizens," he emphasized.


They also visited el Centro de Estudios para Extranjeros where they talked about the importance of preserving their Spanish as a fundamental part of their culture.


Coming from the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, and Mexico City, the DACA participants proudly experienced their roots in order to continue with the altruistic work they carry out at the Centro Romero, an association founded by Salvadoran Bishop Oscar Romero during the civil war in that Central American country. It is a community organization that has been serving the immigrant refugee population in Chicago for more than 30 years.


The link between UNAM's headquarters in this city and associations dedicated to supporting the migrant population is part of the substantive tasks of the largest and most important university in the country: to extend its academic and cultural programs to the most vulnerable population.


Susana Salgado, with a firm decision in her activism to help migrants, arrived as a child along with her parents to find a better life that has borne fruit in the community service that now, "after this trip we will do with greater pride and dignity," she said at the end of the two-day visit that continued in other places of interest in Mexico City, and in her places of origin, such as the small town of Guerrero where Susana will attend the town festival in the company of her grandmother who lives there.

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