The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of Pittsburgh hosted the Mexican Consulate, Saturday, June 27th to conduct one-day consular services for local residents. Officials Yara Mendoza-Camargo and Rafael Calleja Sepúlveda from the Philadelphia Consulate recognized the increasing need for document services by Mexican residents in the Pittsburgh area and approached CLAS about the possibility of bringing a “mobile consulate” to the University of Pittsburgh. CLAS, which has been regularly hosting the Consulate of Brazil and Colombia for several years for the same purpose, was more than happy to accommodate them. Centrally located, the University of Pittsburgh is an ideal location and drew more than 250 appointments from Mexican residents who came from as far as Erie, Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio to renew their passports, citizenship and birth registration, and other important documentation.
Other organizations that were in attendance to provide support for local Mexican residents were the Pittsburgh social services and community organization, Casa San Jose, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), La Jornada Latina press, the United Farm Workers (UFW), and the Latino Pittsburgh Breast Cancer Awareness organization. The Center for Latin American Studies works with many such organizations that promote public health, education and cultural outreach for Latin Americans, in addition to intercultural awareness for the greater Pittsburgh area.
In addition to consular services, the Consulate of Mexico also provides support for K-12 and higher education for Mexicans in the state of Pennsylvania. Plazas Comunitarias (Community Markets) is one particular endeavor that, through the use of a local computer site, enables Mexican youth to complete grade school education online and with text book resources identical to those that they would employ in the Mexican school system. While many sites exist across the state and throughout the US, there is no such approved site in Pittsburgh—yet. CLAS will be collaborating with Ms. Mendoza-Camargo, director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, to advance this important cause and establish an approved site. A program of consular funded matching scholarships is also available for high achieving Mexican students.
The Hispanic population is a very important component of the fabric of the Pittsburgh community and CLAS is very enthusiastic about helping foster its continued growth and inclusion in the area. Collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico from Philadelphia continues and plans are being made to schedule future consular activities at the University of Pittsburgh during the upcoming academic year.