For alumni and friends
of the university

TRIPtych: The Struggle for a Fair Chance

A group from Furman poses in front of the mural “Monuments: Atlanta’s Immigrants.” Front row, from left: Andrea Parker ’26, Caroline Brawley ’24, muralist Yehimi Cambrón, Pratik Shrestha ’26, Dipak Malla ’26, Jovid Jumaev ’26. Back row, from left: Xavier Johnson ’24, Andres Ospina ’24, Student Organizations Coordinator Addison Smith ’22, Cothran Center Program Coordinator Rolyn Rollins, Assistant Professor of Spanish Santiago Quintero, Denisse Castro-Rivera ’25, Kerry Black ’24, Tony Song ’26, Edith Olivera- Bautista ’23 and Maria Balderas ’25. The student group was hosted by the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection and the Hispanic Outreach and Latinx Awareness student group.

By Xavier Johnson ’24

On a Friday afternoon in early October, I packed a bag, climbed into a van of students and staff, and traveled to a farm in the middle of nowhere. Americus, Georgia, was the first destination of our Immigration Pilgrimage Through Georgia, which included the first of many meaningful, poignant and beautiful experiences. My family is not one of immigrants; however, as a Black student, I always cherish the opportunity to educate myself about the world and the struggle for equality and fair chances. 

Students participate in an immigration simulation

Students participate in an immigration simulation at Jubilee Partners. From left: Maria Balderas ’25, Pratik Shrestha ’26 and Xavier Johnson ’24.

Along our five-day trip, we met with farmers and volunteers who house immigrants, packed donated items for detainees, heard the unique stories behind city murals, and witnessed the love and beauty of Latin American cultures. It was a privilege to peek into the nuanced experiences of so many, and I could not help but realize how their truths and stories are often distorted or obscured. 

My most impactful experience was speaking with an inmate in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in a remote area. He had been detained for over eight months, and I was his first visitor. His story was remarkable, and I will never forget his name or his impenetrable spirit.

Students tour the grounds at Jubilee Partners

Students tour the grounds at Jubilee Partners, an ecumenical Christian service community in Comer, Georgia, that offers hospitality to refugees and other immigrants who have fled violence or persecution.

Now, as I reflect on these moments, I feel enlightened, informed and left with questions. How can I use my activism and my craft to support and recognize those affected by immigration policy? How can I help mend a broken system to eliminate tragedy and adversity?