The History of Immigration

May 28, 2014 | Chicago, IL


“I have not seen my family since 1998 and I hope that in the future I will be able to see my brothers and sisters,” said David Tolen, Erie House board member and event panelist. This is a stark reality that resonates amongst the immigrant population all too well. On Thursday, May 22, 35 people gathered in Erie House’s historic Templeton Hall for the Learn. Lead. Create Community’s (LLCC) presentation on the history of immigration. With a goal of opening up a dialogue, Erie House started the LLCC taskforce to help foster a learning community and establish a volunteer network to offer Erie’s lifelong learning resources with highly-skilled volunteer participation. LLCC is introducing its pilot series of period salons to explore important issues as a community.

Kicking off the pilot series was a showing of a brief video on the history of immigration followed by a panel discussion featuring First Ward Alderman, Joe Moreno; Erie House board member, David Tolen; Director of the Chinese American Service League, Grace Chan; and Monika Starczuk of the Polish Initiative of Chicago. A variety of topics were discussed such as barriers immigrants face today, processes immigrants go through to become citizens, and the personal experiences of panelists upon their arrival in America. Language was a common issue brought up by panelists, “Chinatown was built up because Chinese people could not live anywhere else,” said Grace Chan addressing the hindrance many feel from the inability to communicate with those outside of their community. The other panelists agreed that language is a major barrier immigrants face upon arrival.

LLCC will be continuing its salon series every fourth Thursday of the month all taking place at Templeton Hall at 1347 W Erie from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Admission is free and a light dinner is provided. The next salon, Immigration and Workforce, will be held on Thursday, June 26 and will be in a similar format. To RSVP, contact Erika Espinosa at or (312) 432-2293.


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