By GWBT Contributing Blogger Pricela A.
Imagine leaving your hometown because it's been overtaken by war. The place you once called home is now falling apart. Many immigrants are fleeing their hometowns because of wars, gang violence, or poverty. Children’s Village research shows that about 68 million worldwide have fled their countries and about 50% of them are children. Moving to a new City brings its challenges but moving to a new Country can bring new difficulties. Many immigrant children and youth need help to transition into their new life.
Joining a new school and not understanding a language can bring fear and challenges to many immigrant children and youth. When I was in 5th grade I remember our teacher informing us that a girl from El Salvador was joining our class. The teacher asked if anyone knew Spanish so they could be her interpreter. I remember raising my hand. Her name was Alessandra and She had fled her country due to gang violence. Alessandra was a refugee. She was shy and scared to be in America, she missed her friends and her grandparents that she had left behind. Alessandra had support from her family, school, and community which led her to go to college and land a great paying job.
Not all immigrant youth have the luck or resources Alessandra had. Many don’t know how to access resources to help them succeed in their new Country. Aside from the language barrier they are faced with adjusting to a whole new culture. Which can take a toll on them?
The immigration experience begins at school. According to the 2015 U.S Census data, 23 percent of students are immigrants. Every immigrant student comes with a different educational background. Some students might be advanced in their academia and others due to their circumstances might have received little to no education. Many of them have faced trauma and are traumatized from fleeing their countries. This can be hard for the students and can affect their behavior.
There are ways for immigrant youth to overcome the challenges faced by leaving their countries behind. At school, they should make the students feel welcomed and be able to arrange a translator ahead of time. Being able to communicate is a way that will encourage the students to become a part of their new life. English as a Second Language (ESL) is a great program in schools that help students learn English. That will encourage more school and community involvement by the teen or child because they will be able to communicate with their peers. They should not feel excluded, they should be celebrated and included.
Parents or caretakers have to be involved in helping their children overcome the challenges that they are faced with while living in a new Country. A supportive family environment will push the youth to be excited about living in a new place. While not all immigrant youth have the support at their homes, at schools they should be encouraged to invite their caretakers to learn about resources and their communities.
Community or nonprofit organizations are another place where immigrant youth can feel safe and overcome the challenges that come with being an immigrant in a new Country. At Girls Who Brunch the nonprofit organization, they are a great resource to help build up the girl’s self-esteem and their confidence with workshops dedicated to that. This pushes the immigrant teenage girls to have the confidence to believe in themselves.
While there are many challenges presented to immigrant youth there are many resources out there that can help them overcome those challenges. We can help build better youth by being supportive and welcoming. We need to be understanding and sympathetic to their circumstances. Encourage them to join their community organizations so they can start feeling like themselves again.
“Refugee & Migrant Crisis.” SOS, www.sos-usa.org/our-impact/emergency-response/refugee-migrant-crisis?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI44Gr_oWy6QIVERx9Ch3GIgrHEAAYAiAAEgL5evD_BwE.
Wicks, Anne. “For Children, the Immigrant Experience Begins in School: Bush Center.” For Children, the Immigrant Experience Begins in School | Bush Center, 2018, www.bushcenter.org/catalyst/immigration/wicks-schools-and-immigrants.html.
To learn more about Taryn Goldsmith and the nonprofit Girls Who Brunch visit the website www.girlswhobrunchtour.com
Pricela A. is a Girls Who Brunch Tour contributing blogger based out of California. Her area of expertise falls under community outreach, event planning, and social media. She is most passionate about topics related to ending poverty, educational system, and women's equality. Social media to her, allows people around the world to connect in ways that weren't possible before with so many communities to be a part of.