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Learning Leadership and Activism: Immigrant Latinx Youth Alternative Spaces of Education

Authors: Melisa Arganaraz*, University of Maryland - Baltimore County
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Geography Education, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: Inclusion, Latinx Geographies, Education, Immigration
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the last two decades, the local government of Baltimore has created policies to protect immigrants by encouraging housing opportunities, the creation of businesses and funds to access free legal resources with the effect of deflecting urban decline and depopulation. Therefore, as the immigrant population at large has been successful at incorporating into the city, one would suggest that immigrant youth have the same opportunities. In reality, they attend schools that lack resources, are overpopulated, racially segregated, and policed. In this context immigrant alternative spaces of education have been key in providing Latinx youth with basic resources to meet educational requirements. These after school spaces shared a common goal: leadership and enrichment for Latinx high school students in Baltimore City. The programs strive to build Latino youth leaders by combining academic support with life skills that schools will not otherwise provide.
I will argue that these spaces operate a reciprocal form of ‘learning and teaching back’, where youth not only learn about curricula but also develop skills that stress their rights, build solidarities and shape new understandings of citizenship and governance. These spaces allow youth “to stop the timer”, providing time for youth to be youth in a society that requires them to grow up quickly. Through ethnographic methods, I indicate that these spaces provide a positive environment for immigrant youth that meet their social service needs, advances their academic achievement, and facilitates a positive development for their families and the broader community.

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