Extending Engelhard’s concern for well-being

Kim Lubreski and students from her course "Gender, Immigration, and Social Justice"

This past fall Kim Huisman Lubreski, Assistant Director for Learning Design at CNDLS and Adjunct Professor in Sociology and Justice and Peace Studies, taught her Justice and Peace Studies course, Gender, Immigration, and Social Justice, with the Engelhard Project. As the course’s title suggests, Lubreski’s course takes an intersectional approach to immigration, with an understanding that an immigrant’s life and livelihood is not simply shaped by their status as an immigrant; rather, social identities such as gender, race, and religion, shape how immigrants are treated and received upon arrival to the U.S.

Lubreski’s course, and the semester-long podcasting project that she assigns in it, grew out of a ten-year research project she conducted with Somali immigrants in Maine. “Immigrants are often concerned that their children are going to forget their history and their past and they want those stories to live on. In my own research, a lot centered around storytelling and preserving those stories and recording them and archiving them,” says Lubreski. Following a framework of storytelling, Lubreski asks her students to create a podcast about someone who immigrated to the United States in collaboration with that person. The project, through community-based research, is designed to be mutually beneficial for both the interviewer (the student) and the interviewee (the immigrant).

Lubreski’s course, and the podcast assignment, were a seamless match for Engelhard. “Once I decided to teach this course, right away I realized [Engelhard] would be a great fit for this course because hearing people’s stories… can be jarring, it can be upsetting, it can be emotional—especially for those students who chose to interview family members. Many of those students learned about their family member’s backgrounds and experiences and learned things that they had never learned before,” says Lubreski.

The podcast assignment allowed Gaby Charlot (SFS ‘21) the chance to interview her father who immigrated to the United States from Haiti when he was 13 years old. “I had heard his story before,” says Charlot, “but I hadn’t necessarily heard it in a formalized way, and I hadn’t heard the whole thing.” While Charlot echoes Lubreski’s sentiment that interviewing her father was emotional at times, she also shared that the design of the course supported her own well-being. Doing research before the interview helped prepare her for some of what she would hear—and working with her dad to craft questions ensured that they both were comfortable with where the interview would go and what story would be told. Lubreski adopted additional ways of infusing wellness into the course, including a self-care check-in and a general flexibility and openness to hearing from students about their own needs throughout the course. To Gaby, thinking about and addressing the well-being of immigrants is crucial. “Policy and people’s lives are not independent,” she says.

In order to incorporate diverse perspectives on well-being into her classroom beyond course readings and the podcast assignment, Lubreski invited Rabbi Rachel Gartner (Director for Jewish Life) and Arelis Palacios (Associate Director for Undocumented Student Services, CMEA) to engage with her class. Gartner spoke about her experiences in trying to visit one of the children immigration detention centers and led a discussion about the short and long-term threats to well-being that these centers pose for children and their families. Palacios spoke to students about the status of being undocumented, DACA, and what resources are available to support undocumented students and their well-being both at Georgetown and beyond the Hilltop.

For Lubreski, partnering with the Engelhard Project opened up a new way of teaching that creates space for students to be reflective about both their own well-being and the well-being of others. To learn more about how to participate in the Engelhard Project, please visit the Engelhard website or reach out to us at cndls@georgetown.edu.