June 17, 2019
NYU Washington, DC, National Peace Corps Association and the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington hosted an evening film screening of ABRAZOS followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker, Luis Argueta. The panel was moderated by Randy Capps, Director of Research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute and also featured Lisa Kremer, OFS, and children from the film.
Mr. Argueta is the 2019 recipient of the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award, which honors an outstanding global leader who grew up in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served, whose life was influenced by Peace Corps, and whose career contributed significantly to their nation and the world in ways that reflect shared values in human dignity and economic, social, and political development. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a global leader by National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). Read more on the NPCA blog post.
The 45-minute documentary focuses on a group of U.S. citizen children who travel 3,000 miles, from Minnesota to Guatemala, to meet their grandparents for the first time. After being separated for nearly two decades, these families are able to share stories, strengthen traditions and begin to reconstruct their cultural identity.
Please note that this event may have been filmed and/or photographed.
Luis Argueta is a film director and producer whose work spans features, documentaries, shorts and episodic TV. He has also worked as commercial director, lecturer and teacher in the United States, Europe and throughout the Americas. His film The Silence of Neto (1994) is the first Guatemalan film to have been submitted to the Academy Awards competition. In April 2009, the British newspaper The Guardian, listed Mr. Argueta as one of Guatemala’s National Living Icons, alongside Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu and Singer/Songwriter Ricardo Arjona. His work spans features, documentaries, shorts and episodic TV. He has also worked as commercial director, lecturer and teacher in the United States, Europe and throughout the Americas. His feature film The Silence of Neto (1994), the coming of age story of a 12 year-old boy in 1954 Cold War-Guatemala, is the first Guatemalan film internationally recognized and the first Guatemalan production ever to be submitted to the Academy Awards. The Guardian, listed Mr. Argueta as one of Guatemala’s National Living Icons, alongside Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu and Singer/Songwriter Ricardo Arjona. Luis Argueta is the first and only filmmaker to be awarded Guatemala’s Orden del Quetzal in the degree of Grand Officer. Argueta is currently researching a film/podcast project about migration pressures, patterns, return migration, and reintegration of returning migrants in Mexico the Northern Triangle. He is also developing a film project about illegal adoptions in Guatemala. His films can be viewed online at www.luisarguetaa.com.
Randy Capps is Director of Research for U.S. Programs at the Migration Policy Institute. His areas of expertise include immigration trends, the unauthorized population, immigrants in the U.S. labor force, the children of immigrants and their well-being, and immigrant health-care and public benefits access and use.
Dr. Capps, a demographer, has published widely on immigrant integration at the state and local level, including profiles of immigrant populations in Arkansas, Connecticut, and Maryland, as well as Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Louisville, KY, and Napa County, CA. He also has examined the impact of the detention and deportation of immigrant parents on children.
Prior to joining MPI, Dr. Capps was a researcher in the Immigration Studies Program at the Urban Institute (1993-96, and 2000-08).
He received his PhD in sociology from the University of Texas in 1999 and his master of public affairs degree, also from the University of Texas, in 1992.
Lisa Kremer is project coordinator for the organization Familias Juntas and director of the youth servant-leadership summer project Dream Catchers. Both of these programs work with the immigrant population in Worthington, MN. With a educational background in Catholic theology and Servant-Leadership, Lisa spent seventeen years working in Faith Formation and Social Justice Ministry in several Catholic parishes, before finding a place among the Guatemalan community in her own “backyard”. In 2013 she was blessed to take 14 US citizen children (of undocumented parents) to Guatemala to meet their grandparents and other family members for the first time, a journey that was documented in the film, ABRAZOS. For several years now she has dedicated most of her time to working with and advocating for immigrant families. In 2014 she received the State Advocate Award from the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, and in 2017 the Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation award from the National Secular Franciscans. Lisa was professed in the Secular Franciscan Order in 2002, and her dedication to St. Francis has shaped her life. She and her husband Pat live on their farm in rural SW Minnesota where they enjoy spending as much time as possible with their 3 children, their spouses, and 5 beloved grandchildren.