Odette Avendaño organizes May Day 2022 celebrations with CHIRLA

Odette Avendaño shares her community engagement internship experience with CHIRLA through the Labor Studies 195CE course.

Photo by Alex Perez

Vanessa Codilla | May 3, 2022

For labor studies and Chicanx and Central American Studies double major Odette Avendaño, advocating for immigrant workers and undocumented students has been a long-time passion. 

That is why when Academic Program Manager Elizbeth “Liz” Espinoza reached out to Avendaño about opportunities for labor studies students to engage in research justice internships with worker and community organizations in Los Angeles, Avendaño eagerly jumped at the chance to intern with Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), having followed their work and that of other immigrants rights organizations such as Immigrants Rising.

As a part of this internship experience, Avendaño helped organize the May Day 2022 rally and march in Los Angeles. May Day, which is celebrated on May 1 across the globe, commemorates historic contributions and sacrifices of workers while drawing attention to important issues workers face today. 

In Los Angeles, May Day has also become a day to advocate for immigrant rights. Since 2007, CHIRLA and other organizations that are part of the May Day Coalition have coordinated a march and rally to uplift worker’s voices and raise awareness of the ongoing struggles of immigrant communities.

This year was Avendaño’s first time attending a May Day march. As a member of the logistic committee, she assisted with event planning and kept in touch with organizations and supporters who provided supplies and transportation for the march. She also coordinated with important contacts, such as volunteer team members and first aid responders, to ensure that the march ran smoothly. 

Avendaño, who has witnessed family members experience injustices in the workplace, shared that contributing to this year’s May Day celebration was a meaningful way to give back to and represent her community. 

“Doing this work makes me feel like I am not only helping my family, but also my community,” said Avendaño. “Through this work, the voices and experiences of [immigrant workers] are being heard and we can hopefully advocate for better working rights and protections for immigrant workers here in the U.S.” 

The soon-to-be labor studies graduate hopes to one day collaborate with other immigrant rights advocates to set up a nonprofit organization that provides support and mentorship to undocumented students navigating higher education. She believes that her internship with CHIRLA exposed her to the organizing and behind-the-scenes work that propels the movement for immigrants rights forward. 

After this wonderful event I felt inspired and in awe to see children, activists, allies and community members come together and support and empower each other,” she said. “The work of CHIRLA and the other organizations that collaborated with [us] for this event is truly inspiring and impactful!”

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Vanessa Codilla

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