Shared stories

Event celebrating Marshalltown’s immigration history set for Feb. 6 at library


From Europe and Latin America to Africa and Asia, Marshalltown is home to people of many origins; their stories will be the focus of Immigrants in Iowa: Our Story next week.

“The main gist of it is that Iowa has always been a place that immigrants have settled, from the beginning of our country and our state until now,” said Joa LaVille of Immigrant Allies of Marshalltown, one of the event organizers. “A lot of reasons people migrant, and the experiences that they have … are very similar, even though we know that the demographics in terms of the countries of origin have changed.”

The free event is set for 6-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Marshalltown Public Library, 105 W. Boone St. Along with Immigrant Allies, the Iowa Office of Latino Affairs and Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) also organized the event.

Panelists will include Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) Every Child Ready coordinator and Marshalltown School Board member Karina Hernández, Iowa Valley Education and Training Center Director of Adult Literacy Programs Jon Núñez, John-Paul Chaisson-Cárdenas of the state 4-H Youth Development program, Sol Varisco of Iowa JFON and Sonia Reyes-Snyder of the Office of Latino Affairs.

LaVille said the discussion will include “examples of some of the demographics of immigrants coming to Iowa over our history, and what things are similar and what things are different.”

She said immigration law in the United States has changed much since the country’s founding, and immigrants from various parts of the world have had different experiences coming to the country over time.

“I think it’s really interesting to know about each of our own history, so hopefully that will be something that comes up too,” LaVille said.

She said this program fits well with Immigrant Allies’ organizational goals.

“Migration is universal,” LaVille said. “If part of our goal is to build a community of neighbors, we have to know each others’ stories and find our commonalities.”


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or