8.5 Conclusion

Case Studies

Case Study #1

Juan Morales stood at the grocery counter watching the clerk ring out each item while his mother looked through her purse to find her wallet. The clerk looked up and asked, “How are you folks doing?”
His mother answered with her thick accent, “Good, good.”
“That will be $28.51, ma’am.” The clerk looked expectantly at Mrs. Morales, who turned to her son.
“Cuanto es, mi hijo?” she asked. He told his mother the amount in Spanish, and she reached into her purse to give him a ten and a twenty. When the clerk gave change of $11.49, she refused the amount and told her eleven-year-old son to communicate the change was too much.

Juan turned bright red while customers behind them formed a line. “You gave us too much change.” The clerk tried to explain that he was giving change for forty dollars, but Mrs. Morales insisted that she should get change for thirty dollars. In the end, the clerk thanked them for their honesty.
As Juan and his mother walked away, Mrs. Morales gave her son a quick hug. She told him how proud she was of him, studying so hard and speaking good English. “Por eso venimous aqui,” she said—that’s why we came here, so you could study hard and have a better life than we had in Colombia.

Case Study #2

Ayon ran down the sidewalk, dodging people walking briskly in the afternoon rush hour. She had to get to the Western Union before it closed. Slightly out of breath, she reached her destination and wired money back home to her grandmother in Somalia. Then she stopped by a store to grab a contribution to the family meal that night. Her cousins were coming over and her mom wanted to have a big meal. She was looking forward to a night with the family, even if it meant that she would be up late studying for exams that she had to take the next day.

When she got home, her family was gathered around her younger sister. She was crying because a girl at school had challenged her to take off her hijab, the headdress that the women in the family wore for modesty. Ayon smiled at her and said, “Don’t listen to them. They asked me the same thing.” Their cousin chimed in, and before long the girls were laughing and talking. Ayon smiled with a deep contented sigh.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some examples of the immigrant paradox in immigrant and refugee families?
  2. How would you explain the attitude toward work and education of most immigrant and refugee families? What do you think is behind these attitudes?
  3. Discuss the role families play in promoting resilience among immigrants and refugees? In what ways might family obligations be a barrier to resilience at times?
  4. Why should a community worker or practitioner be careful to refrain from judging immigrant and refugee families negatively?
  5. What is an acculturation gap? How could an acculturation gap affect resilience?

Helpful Links

Two Generational Strategies to Improve Immigrant Family and Child Outcomes

• This is a summary of policy and practice reforms that would help support children in immigrant families. It was developed by the Center for Law and Social Policy.

What “MacFarland USA” says about immigration

• MacFarland USA is a 2015 movie about a teacher who starts a cross-country team with students from migrant families. This article talks about how the movie reflects the wide contributions of migrant workers, and includes several audio clips with the director.


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Immigrant and Refugee Families, 2nd Ed. Copyright © 2019 by Jaime Ballard, Elizabeth Wieling, Catherine Solheim, and Lekie Dwanyen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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