Student Op-Ed: Journey to La Casa de Amistad

Author: Irasema Hernandez Trujillo

Hello everyone!

As we are in the holiday season and we begin to think about what we are grateful for, I would like to start with the place that has been my second home away from the Dome: La Casa de Amistad.

In this wonderful community center, I have grown and learned so much about advocacy, community coalitions, and empowerment.

SO, where did it all begin? Who introduced me? How did I get involved? How has it shaped me and the work I am doing? Read below to find out more! 

1

It all started when I took, by far, my favorite class, with one of my favorite professors, and, as many refer to her, our ND mom, Tatiana Botero! Professor Botero is in the Romance Languages and Literatures and teaches Spanish. In order to complete my language requirement for the College of Arts and Letters, and to discern my passion for immigration advocacy, I took a community-based learning class called "Immigration and the Construction of Memory" during my freshman spring semester. Here, we worked with La Casa de Amistad, a nonprofit organization within Michiana. Their mission is to “empower the Latino/Hispanic community” by “providing educational, cultural and advocacy services in a welcoming, bilingual environment” (La Casa Website).

Due to Covid restrictions, we could not visit the facility and its amazing people regularly, so we met with individuals who shared their history with the organization to write a book for their 50th anniversary. Through this, I learned about the MANY wonderful volunteer opportunities that they offer. I was able to serve as a teaching assistant for individuals applying for their naturalization; teach English to non-English speakers; tutor kindergarten through 12th-grade students; read to preschoolers; participate in the food pantry; assist in childcare services; and help with local community gardens!

The opportunities are endless, and the satisfaction of helping the South Bend community is life-changing! Currently, I volunteer on Thursdays virtually from 11-1 p.m. with the Citizenship Class. I reinforce the class instruction in Civic and English language skills to help residents pass the naturalization exam and interview! I have had the opportunity to work with some of the sweetest and humblest individuals! One of my students works as a lunch assistant for South Dining Hall!

Working with La Casa de Amistad has allowed me to go beyond Notre Dame and impact a community, one individual at a time. The conversations, successes, and friendships I have made are forever. Therefore, I HIGHLY encourage you to go beyond Notre Dame and do more for the South Bend community. Go Irish, beat the bubble!

Originally published by Irasema Hernandez Trujillo at admissions.nd.edu on December 01, 2021.