Middlesex Community College history professor David Kalivas opens a public forum  Immigration and Community Challenges in Lowell  at the Lowell National
Middlesex Community College history professor David Kalivas opens a public forum Immigration and Community Challenges in Lowell at the Lowell National Historical Park visitor center on Tuesday. SUN/ROBERT MILLS
LOWELL -- In a year when immigration has been a hot-button issue charged with heated rhetoric, several of the city's most prominent organizations came together Tuesday to host a public forum on the challenges it brings.

The forum was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and co-sponsored by Middlesex Community College, UMass Lowell, the Lowell National Historical Park, The Coalition for a Better Acre, and the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association.David Kalivas, a history professor at MCC and director of the Commonwealth Honors Program, moderated the event.

At the public forum, on stage from left, panelists Julia Gavin, of the Coalition for a Better Acre, Bopha Malone, of the Cambodian Mutual AssistanceAt the public forum, on stage from left, panelists Julia Gavin, of the Coalition for a Better Acre, Bopha Malone, of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, David Kalivas, an MCC history professor, and Christoph Strobel, associate professor of history at UMass Lowell. SUN/ROBERT MILLS

It began with presentations by Kalivas; Bopha Malone, of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association; Julia Gavin, of the Coalition for a Better Acre; and Christoph Strobel, an associate professor of history at UMass Lowell.Kalivas said the evening was aimed at starting a conversation about immigration and the challenges it brings that will carry over into curriculum and classrooms, while also helping those involved build partnerships.James Mabry, president of MCC, opened by discussing his German and English roots and his wife's Italian roots."The contributions of so many different people from so many different nations have made this city," Mabry said.