This guest post is written by the undergraduate students who joined the Immigration Clinic for their Branch Out Alternative Breaks trip in January 2021.
Our Branch Out Alternative Break experience with the W&M Law Immigration Clinic has been eye-opening and impactful in many ways. Many of us, who had a limited understanding of U.S. immigration before this experience, were shocked to learn about the complexities of the issue and its intersection with a variety of topics (including domestic violence, human trafficking, and the criminal justice system). We were amazed to learn about the important services and scale of work that the Clinic does for the Hampton Roads community. Our group was very fortunate to speak with Nicole, who shared some of her stories of the people impacted by the Clinic’s work. We were amazed by how passionate and intentional she was at her work. She did an excellent job at shedding light on difficult topics while maintaining a positive outlook towards an improved immigration system. We also had an amazing opportunity to chat with W&M Law School students and learn more about the Immigrant Justice Corps Community Fellowship.
The experience we’ve had has even inspired some of us to pursue a career in immigration. One of us stated that they’ve been “inspired to go to law school even more than before.” Another said that before this week, she hadn’t really considered a career in immigration law. Now it’s a real possibility.
The information we’ve learned throughout this week has pushed us to work even harder to fundraise. We’ve been able to observe on a more personal account how important this Clinic’s work is, and we’ve tried to pull out every stop we can think of to encourage donations. We are working on gaining approval from local restaurants for profit shares, in which a portion of their earnings will be donated directly to the Clinic. We’ve incorporated a lot of the information we’ve learned into infographics and plan to post flyers around campus and all over social media! We’ve created polls to test people’s knowledge of immigration policy, and have a link in which people can donate directly to the Clinic. We’ve also written individualized letters which we are prepared to send to family and friends encouraging them to donate as well. We’ve even created an AmazonSmile account, where a portion of the proceeds of supporters’ purchases on Amazon will go directly to the Clinic.
We are incredibly excited to say the fundraiser launched on Friday, January 22nd, and will go through Monday, February 22nd. Our goal is to raise $2,000 over the course of the month. The dates of various profit shares will be announced later, and advertised as much as possible.
We’ve all agreed that it’s been an honor to work with the Clinic and we hope that we can raise as much as we can to keep the Clinic going strong. This has been an amazing virtual break, and despite the barriers COVID has placed upon us, we’ve still managed to work hard and bond with each other along the way. Each of us will take the memory of these few days with us, and hope to continue working to aid immigrants in need.
Abby, Naomi, Isabelle, Celeste, Aidan, Alondra, Jen, Alyssa, Sam, Macie, Jecy, and Sony
W&M Branch Out Alternative Breaks
Learn more about the Branch Out Alternative Breaks fundraisers on their Facebook event.
In our Supporter Spotlight series, the Clinic highlights our generous supporters. You can also support us by donating to the Shainwald Immigration Law Clinic Fund, or attending at an upcoming event.