Guest blogger Elaine Cohen shares her experience at the Hutto Detention Center, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, on International Women's Day.
March 8 was International Women's Day! In the past I have gone to many a march or gathering to celebrate. This year I am happy to say I visited at Hutto with 5 others from the program: Arielle, Arantxa and Sharon. Our friend, Stephanie, at American Gateways also gave us information about 17 more women asking for visitors, all of whom are from Honduras or El Salvador.
AYUDA! This is was the moment to dive in and use our Spanish -- though we also had some English speaking women to visit, from Somalia and Eritrea. I can't think of a better way to celebrate International Women's Day.
We met in the lobby of my apartment building and went over names, languages, A numbers, etc. Out of respect for the privacy and security of the women we visit, absolutely no A numbers or family names will be used here.
We came in with a prodigious number of quarters. I began to get sodas for the women (many requests for orange and strawberry). I was instructed by a guard that I must restrict my communication only to the two women I had signed for, at the front desk.
So, I returned to my seat facing the two women from Eritrea and we had a fine visit -- alongside, and within earshot of Olga and Suzanne. I deliberately placed my chair with the back to the rest of the room, so as not to be tempted to communicate in Spanish or French, though I wanted to greet the others, some I knew from other visits.
In the end, this was one of the largest visits in a while and a great way to commemorate International Women's Day. Stay tuned for more reports from Hutto visitors, including myself.