Emilio Parrado, director of the Latin American and Latino Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named one of the Delaware Valley’s Most Influential Latinos.
Parrado is featured among a group of more than two-dozen prominent Philadelphia area residents in the Impacto newspaper’s annual list.
Impacto cited Parrado’s work on the social demography of Latinos in the United States. His research focuses on international migration and how Latinos adapt to everyday life in the U.S.
“I’m trying to create linkages between Penn and the Latino community,” Parrado says.
His service-learning course, Latinos in the U.S, requires students to work with the community organization Casa Monarca in South Philadelphia. The students assist in after-school and English-as-a-second-language programs.
They also teach basic computer skills to adults at the community center. The immigrants’ newly acquired computing skills have allowed them to connect through the Internet with family from their homelands in Mexico and Central America.
“Now with technological advances, they could break barriers of isolation,” Parrado says. “A student showed the new immigrants how they could talk to people in communities of origin using the Internet and look at pictures from the community of origin.”
The Latinos in the U.S. course is offered through the Sociology Department, the Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.
“Students actually get to learn about the immigrants’ experience, first hand. The difficulties the parents face, how they deal with situations in the U.S. context,“ Parrado says.
In working with Casa Monarca, Penn students have the opportunity to learn about challenges the new immigrants face. The task of starting the process of learning to speak English can be very difficult because of institutional issues within the schools.
“The schools don’t have translators, so the immigrants have trouble finding out where they need to go,” Parrado says. “The schools aren’t equipped to meet some of the basic needs of the immigrants.”
Through his work, Parrado hopes to build bridges between academia and community organizations that serve Latinos to help immigrants make a smoother transition to life in the United States.