This year, I have decided to do a two year project revolving around the social struggles of immigrants to the country. Essentially, this year I will conduct interviews, send out questionnaires, and do research on what immigrants grapple with socially as they try to adapt to an American way of life from their past culture, whether it be a city in the middle east or a village in the Indian subcontinent. From the data of the past experiences of others, I will be able to determine the similarities and differences of social difficulties between different cultures, ages, countries, the development of said countries, and more. Using this information, I will create a plan for next year, in which I spend time with a child who has immigrated to the United States. The plan will include topics to discuss with them and their parents/guardians, important milestones I expect to achieve by a given date, and what I want to accomplish through the time with them. While this may seem vague, the main element of my project that differs it from many organizations around the world is that it is adaptable based on who I am working with. If they need something different than planned, I am not held to an exact schedule. The importance of being flexible in my schedule is to create an environment where the child knows that I am able to be there for them when they need, rather than being confined to a certain amount of time before moving on to something else. This will create the emotional connection I aim to build, which allows for the person to be able to trust me and in turn, let me help them if need be.
I am interested in this topic because I understand the struggles of immigrating to a new environment. Though I did not immigrate personally, both my parents and many of my aunts and uncles immigrated from Pakistan, which had a drastically different culture and lifestyle. They have detailed some of their struggles to me and that led me to think about the lack of emotional support that many immigrant children have. The support that is offered is not structured based on the person and therefore often does not sufficiently create an emotional connection with them, which prevents the bond and trust needed to allow them to confide their troubles in someone else. That is also why I am doing a year’s worth of in-depth research. Using this research, I can better understand what I need to do, and the best way to go around doing it, because at the end of the day, these people are humans, and my number one priority is to help them in whatever way they are comfortable with.
This is quite a daunting task for me, and it comes with many challenges. Firstly, I know I will need to put in a lot of time in order to complete what I aim to accomplish this year. That, in itself, will be challenging for me, but I know I can put in the time. Next, I anticipate that finding someone to interview will be tough, not only because I need to find someone who would be willing to interview, but also because it needs to be someone who has prior experience and can understand what I am trying to achieve. In order to surpass this challenge, I am already researching different people and working to get in touch with them. When I do contact them, I will explain the goal of my project, as to make sure they are confident they can provide information that I can apply to my project. Another challenge will be working through any cultural and language barriers. In order to avoid those barriers, I will find someone who knows conversational English, because I can not help someone who I can’t talk to. I will also avoid delving into any differences between our cultural practices, religion, etc. However, what likely will be the biggest obstacle I need to overcome is the unpredictability of the project. While I know I will need to adapt my project depending on who I am working with, I will need to do this seamlessly and make sure that I can stay on track to achieving my goal and adapting my plan as needed in order to do so. All of this means I will not have full control over the project, which is something that I can not prepare for, outside of being open for change and willing to accept that everyone is different and the point of my project is to help them based on who they are and what they need.