Feb 16, 2012 9:35 AM
TUCSON - Earlham College, based in Indiana, has a Border Studies Program here in Tucson. The students come from all over the Country to study immigration issues.
Riley Merline, the Program's Resident Director, came up with the idea to give each of the students bicycles while they're away from home.
"The content and academic part is to learn about the history and the border and immigration...but the way we've designed the program is to give students an opportunity to become more independent people In the world," he said.
The students live with host families, have jobs all over town, and take classes at the Historic Y. Having 2 wheels gives the students a way to be self reliant.
"The host families are busy working and doing their things and we don't want them to feel like they have to give rides to the students. The bikes make them more independent," Merline continued.
The fleet, which started at 7, is now approaching 20.
Most were made by Tucson's local co-op, Bicas, which also helps teach the students about maintenance and repairs.
Kira Cohen, one of the students, says she just learned how to ride.
"This is a new experience for me. Getting to know my bike, getting to a know a new town. It's really empowering being able to transport myself without needing a car."
Tory Johnson, another student, agreed.
"This is a pretty environmentally conscious group, so not depending on an automobile with gas is really good. It's good exercise as well."
For more information on Earlham College, or their Border Studies Program, check out http://www.earlham.edu/.