Salud community educator Ireri Unzueta Carrasco
Ireri Unzueta Carrasco is a community educator and immigrant community organizer from Chicago, Illinois.
SALUD has allowed me to bring together all of the things that i want to work in as part of my life and actually put them into practice. I can bring together teaching, performance, and developing curriculum around immigration and health, through promoting conversations that attempt to create better understandings of where different people are coming from and experience sharing, as well as dispelling miss information around these topics. I have also gotten a chance to work with an amazing group of people that are interested in doing similar work to myself, and have had conversations around topics like sexuality, sex, identity, immigration, mental health, etc that do not happen as often or as informed as with this group. We inform ourselves before or after these conversations since we end up wanting to incorporate these conversations into the dialogues we want to create. In these conversations i practice my arguments' clarity and hear perspectives that i might not otherwise have thought about. Being in SALUD lets me assert my self better as an immigrant and create the kinds of conversations i think are needed if we are somehow going to work better as a society.
After SALUD, I have better arguments for defending the immigrant communities when people try to make their case for why they are iffy about immigration reform or supporting undocumented immigrants and i sort of have a main argument about how everybody moves, understanding why, and how we contribute to where we live to the growth of the community and should have full rights (i've been having a lot of these conversation with my friends lately). Besides arguments another thing that came out of working on SALUD was the resources we had to look for while doing research, like websites with policies, news and reports around immigration , sex health education stuff. I continue to use these to look things up and make sure i am updated on what is going on.
I think we helped to informed people about health and immigration and actually got people to think about what we were saying and come up with some new realization and understanding of some of the things we were talking about. In one workshop one of the participants didn't know that part of the US had once been Mexico. Another time, after doing some of the sex/health workshop we had one person come up to us concerned that he'd had non-oral sex with his girlfriend using a condom for oral sex, i just said that she should make sure the sugar in it had not given her an infection and to only used flavor condoms for oral sex.
In terms of my family i think it has been part of the process for my parents to talk to me about sexuality. We have sort of had snippets of conversations but it can be really awkward and if we had not done a workshop that directly had us talk with our parents about sex i'm not sure that conversation would have happened, though it probably still needs to expand. I think that while we did SALUD we learned a lot from each other and changed our minds about some set ideas we had had before. I remember we had some intense conversations about sexuality, sexual identity and why it was important to include it within our characters, how gender roles affect our lives, and ended up convincing each other of how to be more inclusive in our conversations. I definitely saw a change in us.
What would I like to improve? I think we could do a better job of putting the workshop down on paper (i know we did some of them but there are a couple that could be formatted in a more accessible way in case other people want to use them). We could also make sure that everyone, meaning more than those who put it together, can do the workshops (and this goes with the first point) so that certain workshops don't have to depend on specific people. But more importantly we should practice the workshops with each other ahead of time more, both to see what works and what does not, what might need more explanation when caring it out, both when doing the actual workshop and when putting something together for others to be able to use. Practicing our performance skills more is not a bad idea. I feel like there was more of that this summer than last summer, though i don't know for sure, but if so then to repeat that would be helpful. I also know we have some translation left to do, so that is something to work on.
I've been looking forward to working on this project since two years ago when i heard that we could come and work on it again. Working on issues around health and immigration are two things that i want to continue to do through out my life, particularly in ways that help create the type of conversations that can foster understanding between people. For the coordinator position: I am good at doing things on time and keeping a schedule, though flexibility is important in a project with a lot of people. I tend to keep things organized to make whatever project i'm working on smoother. I think that input from all participants is important and should be one of the main ways groups work together, this input is something i actively try to foster in whatever group i'm in. I'm really exited about this project and know that i will work really hard collectively to do the best that we can.
Watch and Listen
New Research & Recommendations
This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.