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KI Student-Day Laborer Exchange Program Open for Applications

September 9, 2010

Twice each week early in the morning students trained by the Kalmanovitz Initiative travel from Georgetown University to two different “corners” where day laborers congregate in hopes of finding work. Once at the corner, students introduce themselves and start a dialogue that is part English-language learning, part wage theft education and part community building. These students participate in the Initiative’s experiential and community-based education program called the “Student-Day Laborer Exchange Program.”

DLE co-leader Pedro Cruz

Using a curriculum developed by DC Jobs with Justice, students teach “survival English;” the words and phrases that workers need to promote their job skills, and to protect against wage theft. Over a period of ten weeks, working in partnership with local day laborer organizers, students learn about day laborers as well as structural issues affecting the day laborer community.

In addition to weekly trips to the corner, students engage in reflection sessions throughout the semester to deepen their understanding of the complex issues that they face while at the corner. The experience of working side-by-side with day laborers, supplemented by reflection, is an opportunity for students to understand the systems that marginalize day laborers and begin to reflect on their role in combating these systems.

DLE co-leader Sarah David Heydemann

One student coordinator for the program, Joaquin Recinos-Walsh, summed up his experience this way; “Georgetown students often fail to realize their role in the greater DC metropolitan area. My experience as a coordinator for the Day Laborer Exchange Program has connected to me a larger community, which students should feel obliged to participate in. I don’t see the program as merely ESL or just community service. What happens on the corners is the formation and cultivation of friendships and relationships to promote a more just society. It is community building at its most grassroots level. Through the exchange of struggles, aspirations, and triumphs the participants of the program, on both sides, are able to break down barriers and advance understanding, and justice. The dehumanizing of immigrants, which occurs daily on a local and national level, creates a hostile and fearful world for day laborers. By participating in dialogue on the corners, students help regain some of the dignity and respect which is lost and so desperately needed.”

For more information about the program, contact Sarah David Heydemann at


The application deadline for Fall 2010 is September 15. To obtain an application form click here.

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