Wild River Review Launches Open Borders:
Stories of Immigrants in their Own Words

October 13, 2009

October 13, 2009
Media Contact: Kim Nagy
Phone: 609-903-3038

Wild River Review Launches Open Borders:
Stories of Immigrants in their Own Words

The online magazine Wild River Review launches digital storytelling project.

“I can say now, with all certainty, that I owe my life to those Americans who walked with me across the Arizona desert, to those who welcomed me –the stranger- in their homes and gave me food and shelter. But most importantly, I owe my life to those who listened to me…It was this connection that gave me hope and a sense of power.” Manuel Portillo, Co-Editor, Open Borders

Wild River Review announces the release of Open Borders:Stories of Immigrants In Their Own Voices, co-edited by Manuel Portillo and Mark Lyons, co-directors of the Philadelphia Storytelling Project.

Wild River Review invites readers to read and listen to text and audio stories filled with honesty, anger, grief and possibility. Stories of sacrifice and separation, of absentee mothers providing a better life for their children from afar, teens who talk openly about pregnancy and homelessness, farm workers who harvest the food we eat, immigration raids and deportation, frontier justice and life in refugee camps.

Meet Sarbelia who teaches fellow immigrants computer skills and trains them about their rights in case of an immigration raid. Sarbelia supports three families and grieves daily for her son in Ecuador whom she hasn’t seen in seven years. Salvador Garcia sings verses of La Bamba–the song the judge made him sing to prove he was, indeed, a Mexican–before she would grant him his green card. Jesús Villicaña López, 16, talks about picking mushrooms over 80 hours a week, living in one room with eighteen men, and building a new house for his family in Mexico.

Open Borders Co-Editor, Manuel Portillo, fled the civil war in his native Guatemala in the 1980s. Co-Editor, Mark Lyons says, “In this age of globalization, immigrant stories often go unheard though they are part of a great movement, of Mexicans crossing the desert into Arizona, Algerians going to France, Indians going to Dubai. This has created a vehement anti-immigrant backlash. Through their stories, immigrants can have a voice, become visible, and influence the debate.”<

Since 2005, Portillo and Lyons have run the Healing Stories and Youth Radio Projects, working with adult and youth immigrant communities in the Philadelphia area. For seven years Portillo was founding director of Open Borders Project/Proyecto Sin Fronteras. Prior to that he worked as an organizer for the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project and worked in the Sanctuary Movement. Lyons directed the Farmworker Health and Safety Institute for eight years, and has worked as a health provider in the Latino community for over twenty years. He wrote the bilingual book, Espejos y Ventanas/Mirrors and Windows: Oral Histories of Mexican Farmworkers and Their Families; and is also a fiction writer. Portillo and Lyons co-direct the Philadelphia Storytelling Project.

“We are pleased to launch Open Borders, a series that puts the Immigration debate in a human context. Readers will be able to listen to stories that go beyond political opinions and into the realm of real lives. The voices of the immigrants and their stories help us more fully enter their experience, which is part of Wild River Review’s mission to bring first-hand stories to our readers,” says Kim Nagy, Executive Editor of Wild River Review.

Wild River Review is an international website and 501C3 nonprofit organization. With powerful writing and graphics Wild River Review helps readers understand complicated issues through the power of first hand stories and interviews. In a climate of repeated media flashes and quick newsbyte stories that focus on trauma and terror, Wild River Review also believes that there are many underreported issues, positive initiatives and poetic visions that deserve increased coverage in order to effect positive change throughout the world.

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