Last Friday, June 14, my cousin, sister, and I met up with the Nuns on the Bus, who were making a stop in Irvine, CA, as part of their immigration bus trip. In Irvine, these inspiring women (social justice activists in the form of Catholic nuns) were specifically meeting with Representative John Campbell (R) to discuss comprehensive immigration reform – here are his views: Campbell on Immigration.
The outcome of the meeting? Sr. Simone Campbell said they made progress in the meeting, and it went well, but R. Campbell said not everyone will be happy with the legislation in the end. Really? Go figure.
It was a hot, yet pleasant day in Orange County and my cousin, sis and I gathered at the offices of John Campbell. As we walked up, this lady was handing out signs so that we can hold them up and welcome the bus as they drove into the space. As we walked up, and looked around, we noticed that we were the youngest people, probably by an average of 20+ years or so. There were many religious women, many lay people, many lay people who emphasized that they were not a religious order, but part of a lay movement in the church, a couple of priests, and other supporters coming as far as from San Francisco and even Seal Beach, CA.
As soon as the bus arrived, we gathered along the sidewalk holding up our signs as other cars passed by. Sr. Simone and the others went up to the offices of John Campbell, while we waited outside. Because the space was considered private property, it was important for all of us to be on the sidewalk and off the grass as much as possible. Of course, trying to get everyone on board with that was rather difficult.
The close proximity that we all had with one another on the sidewalk indeed provided for automatic conversation to take place, and I met a number of wonderful people! I met a Sister of Mercy who lives in San Francisco, flew down to San Diego the day prior to meet up with the sisters, and was going to join the group for the duration of the bus trip. Her role was to record stories of the people at each of the stops and find out why it is that each came out to support the Nuns on the Bus. She also connected me with members on the San Jose Anti-Trafficking Coalition, too!
I met another woman who has worked with the staff at the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) office in San Diego, and she herself organizes Fair Trade events, as well as other social justice focused programming in Los Angeles and in other local areas. She even invited me to do some talks at their programs! Check out the site: peaceonjustice.wordpress.com. We even discovered that she goes to the same church I used to attend when I lived in Santa Monica. Small world!
While the meeting was taking place in the office building, us supporters took pictures with the bus, and shared in conversation: “Why are you here today?” “What does your involvement look like with social justice?” “Where are you from?” While it was a great place to meet with other like-minded individuals, I also mentioned to some of the women that we should organize something while we were waiting for Sr. Simone and the others to return. I wasn’t quite sure what, but perhaps hold hands and line the sidewalk? Engage in prayer? Sings songs of justice? I don’t know! But something. I wasn’t able to get anything lifted off the ground, but I think that would have made a strong statement – perhaps create a greater impact. Get everyone on the same page at least. Lesson Learned: just go for it! take the lead! I had the vision, but my feet were not yet firmly planted. Next time… 🙂
On another personal note, it was somewhat unfortunate to see the lack of diversity of those who came out to support the Nuns on the Bus and the issue. My cousin, sister and I were among the youngest in attendance, and definitely made up the majority of minorities. Orange County has a large immigrant population made up of Hispanics and Asian populations, among others, and the majority in attendance were older, Caucasian women, and every once in a while, you would see a male. Where were my young people? Where was the diversity? In no way was the Irvine audience a strong representation of the make-up of Orange County, but it was definitely affirming to see so many of the older generations taking part in this movement. I do hope, however, that members of my generation will wake up and actively participate in these efforts for justice.
I suppose the continual question is, “How do we engage the youth and young adults?”
I was so glad to have had the opportunity to see the Nuns on the Bus and support this issue as they made their stop in Irvine, and they emphasized how important it is to continue using our voice to demand comprehensive immigration reform. Sure there are a number of other issues that will have to be addressed with this demand, but it is imperative that we seek this reform.
Here’s their cheer that they taught us at the end: “Raise your hands! Raise your voice! For comprehensive immigration reform NOW!”
Continue to be heard and contact your representative today!