Centro Autonomo in Albany Park
The Albany Park Autonomous Center (APAC), located on 3460 West Lawrence Ave. (about a mile south of the main campus) opened its doors in September of 2006. Its purpose is to create "a space that constructs horizontal relationships, political consciousness, and unites people in and around the Latino immigrant struggle."
Stuart Schussler, who works at the APAC, explained that the center is the result of day laborers needing a space where they could wait for work without being harassed by business owners. With the help of Tom Hansen, who is involved with the Mexico Solidarity Network, the center was opened and started giving ESL classes.
The center is funded by a study abroad program that is offered by the Mexico Solidarity Network in which the students learn about the important social movements in Mexico. The tuition from this program is used to pay for the rent, utilities and the personnel.
The study abroad program is accredited by the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City. The program is recognized by the State University of New York (SUNY) system and American University, among many others and it does issue formal transcripts, more than 95 institutions in the United States have accepted the credits granted by the program in full.
The center works hand in hand with the Mexico Solidarity Network. Shussler said that it is through the solidarity network that the center gets its funding; however, the Mexico Solidarity Network has its own history apart from the Albany Park Autonomous Center.
The center began with ESL classes and has now expanded to provide the community with dance, computer and yoga classes. The center also has an alternative medicine clinic as well a bilingual adult high school.
Although the center does not offer any services geared specifically towards the college student group, they are looking for volunteers who are interested in working with ESL students or with their adult high school program.
Visit their website for more information at http://www.mexicosolidarity.org/centroaut%C3%B3nomo.
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