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Melisa Argañaraz Gomez is a PhD student in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The title of the seminar is:
In the last two decades, the local government of Baltimore created policies to protect immigrants by encouraging housing opportunities, the creation of businesses, and allocating funds to provide free legal resources with the aim of deflecting urban decline and depopulation. As the immigrant population at large has been successful at incorporating into the city, one would suggest that immigrant youth have the same opportunities. In reality, immigrant youth attend schools that are overpopulated, racially segregated, policed, and lack resources. In an attempt to examine immigrant youth inclusivity, the “All About Baltimore Map” project gathers the journeys of Latinas making a guide for recent immigrant youth and families. In addition to mapping resources and opportunities, Latinas shared concerns and reflections on their perceptions of racial violence through different demographic and media analyses of their schools in Baltimore, with a particular focus on city public schools. Latinas demonstrate active engagement and the importance of their voices in schools contrary to what scholarly discourses of passivity, victimization, and vulnerability about youth of color in Baltimore might argue. I assert that such spaces provide a reciprocal form of learning and teaching back, where youth not only learn about Baltimore but also develop skills that stress their rights, empowers critical thinking, and shape new understandings of citizenship in spaces of education. Recent studies like this shed a new light on youth construction of education spaces. This study engages with conversations concerning identity and the critical thinking that schools do not otherwise provide.
Melisa Argañaraz Gomez obtained her master’s degree in Urban Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. As a Johns Hopkins Fellow Researcher, she works on the Centro SOL’s Youth Pipeline program assessing Latino/a student’s educational opportunities and access to medical education for underserved Latino/a/x immigrants in Baltimore. Her dissertation combines participatory action research and critical ethnographic methods to explore and improve education (k12) access for immigrant Latino/a/x youth in Baltimore City Public Schools.