In this unit of class, we discuss how families, schools, and neighborhoods influence each other and immigrants. According to Suarez-Orozco Bang & Kim (2011), families are affected directly by family separation or deportation. When parents are separated from their children it takes a while for the children to readjust to living on their own. However, when the families are again reunited there is not that much excitement because there is a loss of connection. The once close and loving family then becomes distant and the children of the family significantly become anxious and depressed. The parents of these families provide support and motivation, thus without them they children may feel lost. Especially if the families are separated at the critical point of the children’s lives, adolescence.
We also discussed schools and how they help the growth of immigrant children. A great video discussed ways that could not only help the students but also the families. One method was hosting cooking classes for the parents that way the students don’t starve at home and wait until school to have their meals. Many of the students of the schools in low socioeconomic social class, are homeless, thus this solution of teaching kids’ parents how to cook if very helpful (Sanchez). This program for the parents is an example of school engagement. It is important that the students also are engaged in the school, through after school programs or sports. Motti-Stefanidi & Masten (2013) discuss how engagement in school directly influence the academic success of the students. Because the students are more engaged in the schools through after school programs or sports, they will feel a sense of comfort and community, thus having a safe space for them to learn during the day.
Just recently, an article was published about an immigrant from Vietnam who now lives in Philadelphia, PA. It has been difficult for this student to do well in school because she experiences constant bullying from having an accent. For this student to receive help with learning English she must work through a number of obstacles, “The student might begin the process by seeing a social worker. If the school has no social worker, the student may go to a school counselor and be referred to a school psychologist. But school psychologists are overburdened; most serve several schools and are also responsible for testing for special education, speech therapy, EL (English learning) programs, and therapeutic programs” (Xu 2017). The stress this student experiences is overwhelming and even affects her relationship with her mother because her mother does not know any more than what she knows. Finally, the immigrant found an English Learning program after she transferred schools. This program worked well and improved her English, and emotional standing because she felt safe while being in a classroom filled with other English learners.
Neighborhoods in the United States are also a significant part of where immigrants feel safe. There are ethnic enclaves, which is section of where one specific culture lives, and they provide a sense of community for the immigrants. Especially for first generation immigrants, they might feel the most comfortable in a neighborhood that has very similar culture as their home country. One issue with ethnic enclaves would be that it makes it difficult for children’s identity to bloom in the United States. Will the children have a diverse array of friends, or will they only interact with people from their ethnic enclave? Vo-Jutabha, Dinh, McHale & Valsiner (2009) describe the challenges of this issue, whether living or interacting with only the ethnic enclave is positive or negative for identity development in the United States. Many participants of their study express interest in having friends outside the ethnic enclave, and that the ethnic enclave is a way to indirectly force the children to live a distinct lifestyle such as only speaking a certain language.
- Suárez-Orozco, C., Jin Bang, H., Yeon Kim, H. (2010). I felt like my heart was staying behind: Psychological implications of separations & reunifications for immigrant youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 26(2), 222-257.
- Taboada, M. B. (2013, October). Growing number of Hispanic students reshapes Texas education. http://www.mystatesman.com/news/local-education/growing-number-hispanic-students-reshapes-texas-education/hFjsMtuPYsMITcsXSYsbDO/
- Motti-Stefanidi, F., & Masten, A. S.(2013). School success and school engagement of immigrant children and adolescents: A risk and resilience developmental perspective. European Psychologist, 18(2), 126-135.
- Xu, A. (2017, April 17). To get services, English learners face extra obstacles. Retrieved from http://thenotebook.org/articles/2017/04/17/to-get-services-english-learners-face-extra-obstacles
- Vo-Jutabha,Dinh, McHale & Valsiner (2009). A qualitative analysis of Vietnamese adolescent identity exploration within and outside an ethnic enclave. J Youth Adolescent, 38(5), 672-690.