The Odyssey of the Mexican/Central American Migrants

By: Omar Lopez   Sara Jimenez McSweyn  

Unlike Odysseus, migrants from Mexico and Central America are not trying to go back home, but rather they are leaving it in an increasingly more hostile land. This interactive workshop shares a global immersion course titled “Pathways to Immigration.” It induces dialogue where participants share best practices and evaluation strategies for international educational trips. The aforementioned course is designed to increase graduate social work students’ understanding of the causes and dynamics of immigration, including the current policies and legislation that impact delivery of services to immigrant families in the United States. The semester course includes a ten-day trip that exposes students to the realities immigrants face through a “backwards migratory journey” starting in Los Angeles then “migrating” to San Diego, across the international border with Mexico through Ensenada, Mexico City, and Puebla City concluding in Coatzingo (a remote migrant sending community). The pedagogy focuses on lived experiences of students and professors while learning from government officials, community leaders, activists, immigrants, professionals and academics who share their experiences and perspectives on immigration from Mexico and Central America to United States. The students’ critical thinking pedagogical skills are required to evaluate the narratives and intercultural learning that they are exposed to understand the deeper implications of the immigrant experience. The course also focuses on the development of students’ practice skills in the macrosystemic and microsystemic domains to increase their capacity to deliver equitable and culturally informed services.

Curriculum and instruction, inclusive education
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Workshop Presentation

Omar Lopez

Clinical Associate Professor, Field Education, Vice-Chair Dept. of CYF, Director Workforce Development Stipend Programs, Department of Children, Youth and Families (CYF), University of Southern California, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, United States
United States

Sara Jimenez McSweyn

Senior Lecturer, Social Work , University of Southern California