Casa Purchase Welcomes Recent Immigrant Students
Leandro Benmergui, director of Casa Purchase and professor of history and Latin American studies, tells the story of their visit in his own words:
“Today, we received a group of students from Port Chester High School who visited the Neuberger Museum of Art, the Library, the new TV studio in the Humanities building, and then had dinner at the Dining Hall.
“This is a group of recent Latin American immigrants, kids who arrived unaccompanied within the last year; a couple of them just two months ago. You might remember the news a year ago about kids who were crossing the US-Mexico border, most of them traveling without parents.
“All of them (mostly from Guatemala, Ecuador, some from El Salvador, one from Mexico, and one from Honduras) visited a museum and a college campus for the first time in their lives. And they really enjoyed it.
“The exhibition at the Neu on African masks and their uses in rituals regarding fertility and the agricultural cycle made sense for many of these kids, especially those who came from small rural villages in the K’iche department in Guatemala.
“At the Library, we couldn’t have had a better guide: its director, Patrick Callahan, who gave us a great tour and impressed us with his Spanish. Even one of Patrick’s former students, who was writing his senior project on a computer nearby joined the talk to tell us about his research (on Alexander Hamilton and Broadway’s musical).
“Of course, the TV studio was the cherry on top. Elliot Lewis, in impeccable Spanish, made the students gasp! (Lewis is an assistant professor of journalism.)
“We ended the visit having dinner at the Dining Hall, listening to two Purchase students give a concert. My student Belkys Vera, who came to campus for this occasion, talked to the kids about the experience of being an immigrant from Ecuador and being a part of the Purchase community.
“Next step is a talk for families in Port Chester about admission and financial aid for Purchase College. Who knows… maybe one of this kids can join us in the near future.”