Central American immigrants encounter many dangerous situations for a chance at a better life in the United States and journalist and author Sonia Nazario has braved the same dangers to bring one boy’s story to the public.
Nazario, who spoke on campus last week and whose book, “Enrique’s Journey,” is this year’s “One Book, One University” selection has spent over 20 years reporting on both Latin America and Latinos in the United States.
She has covered social justice issues, such as the effects of drug addiction and immigration.
“Enrique’s Journey,” originally written as a six-part series for the Los Angeles Times in 2002, won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. The book was published in 2006.
“I think (my book) will educate people about – through one family – what a lot of these mothers and children are going through and why they’re coming here, and who your new neighbors are,” Nazario said. “So, that at least before you hate you understand.”
The “One Book, One University” program was introduced by Interim Provost Jonathan Reed in 2010.
The program engages all freshmen in a common reading to promote diversity and reflection and more than 70 schools nationwide have selected Nazario’s book as their freshmen required reading.
The book follows the journey of a Honduran boy, Enrique, who left his home with only a slip of paper with a phone number to find his mother in the United States.
It also exposes the many dangers migrants face on the trip, such as the wheels of train carts that have crushed many limbs.
Before the lecture, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Felicia Beardsley and Associate Professor of Writing Cathy Irwin introduced Nazario’s awards and accolades on Thursday in the Campus Center Ballroom and at the Church of the Brethren.
“This year, our book is ‘Enrique’s Journey,’ and that shared theme is immigration, which is pretty much a hot-button topic right now and has been for the last few months,” Beardsley said. “So today, we’re very proud and privileged to have Sonia here to speak with us.”
After meeting Enrique, Nazario took two separate trips to Honduras in an attempt to reconstruct his journey.
She described her experiences in Central America and explained that many migrants – especially children – are fleeing from the increased violence in their countries.
While many children were coming to the United States in search of their parents, six out of 10 children were leaving their homes to escape from drug cartels and bounty hunters, who have been forcing children into drug trades.
Nazario also discussed the issues with immigration today and proposed possible solutions to the problem.
“I believe that we have to get past the same three-tiered approaches that political leaders tell you that will solve this problem,” Nazario said. “We need a policy that brings every tool we have in our toolbox to formulate a foreign policy that tries to improve conditions in these poor countries.”
After the lecture, Nazario had a question and answer session with the audience and held a book signing.
“(The lecture) brought tears to my eyes,” said Vanessa Oceguera, sophomore communications major. “We take what we have for granted all the time but we should stop and be thankful for what we have. It really opened my eyes and made me realize how lucky we are.”
Emily Lau can be reached at email@example.com.