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Cedar Rapids Public Library Takes on Complex Issues with “Reality Bites” Series

Cedar Rapids Public Library Takes on Complex Issues with “Reality Bites” Series

The Cedar Rapids Public Library invites the community to engage in discussions and dialogues about complex topics through a new series called “Reality Bites”. This participatory series involves learning, discussing, and sharing.

“The program was designed to address salient issues in our community; like race, immigration, mental health and politics,” said Victoria Fernandez, Patron Services Specialist and the coordinator for the series. “Often, with polarizing news outlets and misinformation these issues become convoluted or misconstrued. With these sessions, I wanted to take an issue, learn about different viewpoints then discuss why we hold them.”

The spring series will focus on Immigrants and Refugees beginning with the learn portion on Wednesday, March 7, at 6 pm at the Downtown Library. Participants will watch segments of the documentary “The Immigration Paradox,” which tries to disseminate myths and misconceptions about this very complex subject.

On Wednesday, April 4 at 6 pm at the Downtown Library, participants will discuss geopolitical relationships and explore individual stories of crossing borders including Enrique’s Journey: a young boy from Central America who decides to embark on an incredibly terrifying and arduous journey to try and meet up with his mother in the US. The goal is to hear stories to understand and piece together a larger picture. Participants will also discuss illegal and legal immigration and refugee and asylum statuses.

In the final session on Wednesday, May 2 at 6 pm at the Downtown Library, participants will pull together what they have learned and share how they can move forward. Yer Vang, Director of Immigration Legal Services at Catholic Charities of the Arch Diocese of Dubuque will share the immigration services Catholic Charities provide, what type of immigration issues are trending and finally how community members can get involved and become advocates for our community.

“It is my hope that Reality Bites takes an issue, puts it under the microscope to break it down into manageable, meaningful parts and lets our community explore it in a way that is relevant to the,” said Fernandez. “They can take that knowledge with them in their daily lives. It is also a way to develop deeper connections with our patrons and strengthen the social fabric of our community. I hear from past participants and speakers keep me informed with upcoming projects. It is like holding up a mirror to our community. It is meeting them where they are at.”

This is a workshop-style class, where participants will watch short videos and films, participate in collective conversations, and take part in group exercises. All those who join should be prepared to share in a civil and safe environment.

There is no fee to participate. Registration for each event is requested and can be found online at http://bit.ly/springrealitybites or by calling 319.261.READ.

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