Updated: May 3, 2019
The alarming reality of the Central American migrant crisis made its way to Salisbury University last Thursday evening.
The SU Organization of Latin American students, also known as OLAS, held a screening of “A Bridge Apart” on Thursday in Fulton Hall. “A Bridge Apart” is a 2014 documentary which offers a harrowing view into the individual and economic pressures that push Central American and Mexican migrants to undergo the dangerous journey north to find work.
Co-producer Meg Barrett was in attendance alongside her daughter, SU junior Julia Barrett, and her mother Anne Kennedy.
The local interest on such a topic has always been the fuel for political discourse, but especially over the last few months. The screening yielded a large turnout, with a combination of students, faculty and members of the community in attendance. People were forced to sit in the aisles and in the front, inches away from the screen.
“I was overwhelmed. I think it was standing room only,” Meg Barrett said. “And I think the students’ organization all did a superior job in organizing the event and publicizing it.”
The subject matter seemed to deeply resonate with the crowd. The gripping visuals and the testimonies from migrants and farmers alike invoked notable reactions from the crowd.
Many could be seen taking notes, and the crowd remained mostly silent through the screening of the film.
“The way they were, you could hear a pin drop. When the movie was being played, everybody paid attention. They were very interested in what was being said,” Kennedy said.
There was a discussion afterwards led by Meg Barrett, Dr. Timothy Dunn, sociology professor at SU, and Leila Borrero-Krouse, an immigration specialist at CATA Maryland, a non-profit organization which advocates for farm workers.
“I was really moved by the question from one of the OLAS committee members about how to respond to someone when they express an opinion that is very anti-immigrant or that is antagonistic to people from other countries,” Meg Barrett said. “She was looking for some practical advice, and how she could engage in a positive constructive conversation. I think that question really was very meaningful.”
To those seeking to jump off the sidelines of the debate, Meg Barrett offered this:
“If you educate yourself, then you can engage in dialogue. If you don't know the issues, you shouldn't be talking about your subject. Because if you have an opinion that is uninformed, that's all it is: an uninformed opinion. But if you inform your opinions, and then act on them by voting for appropriate representatives, candidates who reflect your education. And really, that's the strongest power that you have as a citizen.”
Advertising is key to on campus events like this one so they receive the type of engagement they deserve.
Julia Barrett noted how OLAS’ efforts to spread the world really paid off.
“OLAS did a great job advertising. Like, I saw posters about it all over campus. And I think that really helped. And they sent out a bunch of emails,” Julia Barrett said.
This documentary screening brought together many different people in the Salisbury community and sparked conversation in order to educate those who aren’t as informed. If you are interested in watching the film, “A Bridge Apart” can be found on Amazon Prime Video.
By K.B. MENSAH
Featured photo: K.B. Mensah image.