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Challenges Faced by Young Immigrants Essay


Introduction

The number of young immigrants in the U.S. has been on the increase over the years. Many of the immigrants are fresh from abroad or they are born to immigrants in the U.S. Immigrants are faced with many challenges, one of them being language barrier. Moreover, the problems experienced by young immigrants are more in comparison to those faced by immigrants born of parents who migrated recently to the U.S. The problems increase significantly in cases of young immigrants.

It becomes harder for immigrants to easily adapt to new environments. Support groups should be established by educational institutions, like universities, to help the immigrants cope with their new environment. Many immigrants within educational institutions have the advantage of meeting many new people and interacting with people from different cultures.

Establishing support groups during this time is important as it becomes effective and caters for all young immigrants within the educational institution as a whole (Brown, 2010). Thus, formulating a policy that establishes support groups within the educational systems of higher learning would be an important strategy to help immigrants adapt to their new environment.

It is important for immigrants to be provided with opportunities that make it easier for them to adapt. One such opportunity would be establishing a requirement that all new immigrants within an education institution should live on-campus.

This encourages social interaction amongst the new immigrants and native students. Many new immigrants go through educational institutions. Thus, a large number of them can be reached through this initiative. It is also a cheaper alternative because other students can be vital in assisting new immigrants to cope with the new environment by providing social support mechanisms (Bauder, 2012).

Immigrants are easily stressed due to cultural differences and unfamiliar societal practices. Many of them become scared, and they can question their role within society. It is a fact that many of the immigrants are nostalgic and have high expectations before they move into new countries. The problems are worse for younger immigrants because many of them do not have close family members in the U.S.. Thus they lack family support when they experience problems.

Academic challenges

New immigrants are faced with various academic challenges. This usually arises from the use of a different educational system in the U.S. in comparison to the education system in their home countries. Thus, many immigrants are forced to do standardization tests to reach educational levels required in the U.S. educational system before they are given an opportunity to study in any U.S. university.

Thus, the policy ensures that students have a basic idea of the educational system within the U.S. Moreover, standardization tests give the educational institution an option to check an individual’s academic abilities.

Academic institutions are also run using different strategies applied by tutors during the course of teaching. Many educational institutions in the U.S. take a different approach to learning in comparison to foreign countries. These new strategies are always unfamiliar to new immigrants, especially when the immigrants enroll for advanced levels of education. Thus, the immigrant is forced to learn and appreciate the new educational strategies to adapt to the new environment.

Establishing a policy where the student stays on-campus can help in solving this problem. The student gets closer to classes and tutors, thus he finds it easier to adapt. This is an effective social support strategy because it gives the student a chance to understand the educational differences that exist.

Academic challenges also crop up in situations where the language of instruction familiar to the immigrant is not English. For instance, most educational institutions in China do not use English. Thus, it becomes harder for a Chinese student to familiarize themselves with English lectures. It takes longer for such a student to adapt to the new methods of teaching and gain from them.

Academic challenges also arise from the expectations placed on immigrants by their parents. Parents place high expectations on their children when they are accepted in the U.S. universities. This puts pressure on most of the students, especially in cases where they cannot achieve as expected due to their new environment. This weighs heavily on their educational progress. Thus, a Chinese student will face more academic difficulties in the US as they try to learn and understand English (Freilich & Guerette, 2006).

Emotional challenges

Young immigrants are faced with a variety of emotional challenges. These can be attributed to the new society and the difficulty in adapting. Thus, various support group strategies should be applied by the university to help the immigrants cope with these challenges (Bauder, 2012).

The university should ensure that it has established counseling facilities to deal with emotional problems affecting young immigrants within the institution. The vast majority of young immigrants identify strongly with their native cultures. Cultural identity becomes more important for such immigrants when the specific cultural identity relates to their religious beliefs. Thus, cultural change for them means a change in their religious beliefs.

For instance, individuals with Turkish origin are strongly attached to their religious beliefs and cultural identity. Such immigrants have to consider their religious beliefs when placed in the context of a new culture. This becomes a challenging scenario because such beliefs may be very hard to change. This can easily strain the person and cause emotional problems (Brown, 2010).

Emotional problems can also arise when the immigrant lacks a sense of belonging within the new environment. Thus, the immigrant may feel that there is a lack of respect and status in the new environment. The person feels like they are placed lower in the society due to unfamiliar beliefs. The difference in belief systems can have an emotional toll on young immigrants because they find it harder to take up new beliefs.

The process of integration becomes harder for the immigrants as they lack a common ground to adapt to the new environment (Perkins, 2005). It is for this reason that counseling services become important. This is where the individual can be made aware of what is expected of them in the new country. They are also informed that it is not necessary that they change their beliefs. The U.S. is considered to be a cultural melting pot, thus many people can retain their cultural identities without affecting their social interactions significantly.

Counseling sessions and interactions with other students will enable the immigrant to have their emotional needs catered for. Counseling provides an avenue for them to share their experiences and problems. Thus, their colleagues will be vital in providing emotional support and helping them cope. Their colleagues will also play an important role in socializing the individual within the new society.

Young immigrants will also be affected emotionally because they miss their parents and relatives back home. Many of the young immigrants have left all their relatives in their home countries, thus interacting with new individuals and being part of the new society is hard. For instance, individuals will face emotional problems as they try to adapt to their family’s absence if they had strong family ties back home.

They will miss the presence of the family and the activities that they conducted together. This can exert an emotional toll on the person and make it harder for them to adapt. Thus, the implementation of a policy to ensure that the individual feels at home in a new country is important. Immigrants will be able to cope with these emotional challenges and establish new friendship ties within their new environment (Freilich & Guerette, 2006).

Cultural challenges

Cultural challenges arise in many forms for young immigrants. Many of these challenges can be attributed to negative stereotypes. Many immigrants are from different cultural backgrounds. Thus, stereotypes that are used to explain the different cultural backgrounds have developed over the years. While the beliefs might be true to some extent, they may also be false and affect an individual negatively as they try to adapt to new environments.

Many of these stereotypes, especially negative ones, are advanced by schools, the media, and individuals (Qin, Way, & Mukherjee, 2008). New immigrants will be easily stressed by these stereotypical ideas and be affected badly as they try to adapt to the new environment. The effects are worse when the immigrant is aware that the stereotypes are false.

For instance, an individual who is from a Muslim country like Afghanistan is usually regarded as a terrorist. This can affect the immigrants negatively if they are law-abiding citizens who have no terrorism links. Moreover, some of these stereotypes are deliberate, while others are inadvertent (Freilich & Guerette, 2006).

Young immigrants may be faced with the use of derogatory terms to describe them. This makes it harder for them to adapt. Thus, an educational institution should also establish an advisory center where new immigrants can discuss their problems and report issues affecting them so that solutions can be realized. Individuals using derogatory terms should also be contacted by such centers and be advised on appropriate behavior.

Impact of the policy

New immigrants tend to be encouraged to become strong citizens of the new country in the face of these new challenges. Many new immigrants will find it easier to adapt in comparison to older immigrants. This is the same case with immigrants from regions that are characterized by a different culture from the cultures in the U.S. Thus, these individuals will find it harder to adapt because they do not have a background that has strong cultural similarities.

For instance, individuals from English-speaking countries will adapt in the U.S. easily in comparison to individuals who come from countries where the national language is not English. For them, the university will have to offer extra English lessons to facilitate easier adaptation in the new society.

An example is the University of Southern California that provides English lessons for foreigners and immigrants. English is a second language to the immigrants, thus it acts as a barrier for them to communicate before they can begin to adapt. Immigrants within the university who come from English-speaking countries go through fewer problems before they can adapt to their new cultures (Bauder, 2012).

An immigrant’s on-campus stay also facilitates the realization of new expectations. The immigrant is able to know how to adapt easily due to interactions with fellow students. Staying on-campus is an effective strategy in integrating immigrants into the new environment because the immigrant can share a hostel with citizens of the new country. This makes it easier to adapt to the new environment. Friendship ties can be easily built among immigrants and their roommates.

It becomes easier to learn about new cultures as both the immigrants and their new friends gain from knowledge about their differences. Thus, it becomes easier for the immigrant to correct stereotypical beliefs amongst the new friends as they learn about their different cultures (Freilich & Guerette, 2006).

Immigrants tend to create a specific American identity that is different from a past foreign one. This is dependent on their time of arrival in the U.S., their country of origin, and their age. Thus, younger immigrants will easily create new identities different from previous identities. The process of integration becomes faster and easier for them in comparison to older individuals.

More problems are faced by immigrants with different skin color and cultures from those of the new country. It becomes worse when they attend universities where their numbers are few in comparison to the majority. Thus, the University of Southern California has established initiatives to ensure that younger immigrants from a specific cultural background and race are numerous. This makes it easier for them to adapt because they find people who can identify with them on-campus.

In cases where the university has a few individuals with a specific cultural background, then the person may feel pressured to adapt to the new culture. This can affect their academic abilities significantly because they do not have anyone to identify with. Thus, it becomes easier to adapt when a young immigrant is in an environment where they can identify with other immigrants.

Different cultures require gradual changes. The young immigrant becomes affected negatively if the changes are drastic. The immigrant may become stressed and anti-social if they cannot cope with the new changes (Brown, 2010).

Young immigrants can be able to adapt and cope with emotional, cultural, and academic challenges as they interact with new American cultures. The use of educational institutions to counter the challenges is one of the effective methods that can help the immigrant to adapt. Thus, the learning institution provides the first avenue for young immigrants to learn and understand about the new cultures.

Moreover, educational institutions also provide the immigrant with various initiatives to deal with their emotional and cultural problems, thus facilitating faster integration. When young immigrants are faced with social rejection, they tend to go back to familiar problem-solving strategies derived from their home countries. Thus, the educational institution will be able to inform the immigrants about the different cultural expectations and ways of coping (Perkins, 2005).

Limitations of the policy

The establishment of this policy within an educational institution is an effective strategy, but there are various limitations that can hinder its application. The wide and varied nature of immigrants makes it harder to establish a strategy that can be applied across the board. The world is characterized by different cultures.

Knowledge of these cultures is vital in providing substantial information on how to deal with the specific needs of each young immigrant. Thus, the policy applied may not be effective in the end if the differences are not considered (Freilich & Guerette, 2006).

Many young immigrants come from families that have low levels of education or backgrounds that are characterized by poverty. Thus, the lack of financial strength becomes an extra challenge as they try to adapt to new environments. The policy requires enough finances to be effective. For instance, young immigrants who do not understand English are supposed to be enrolled in English classes. Immigrants from foreign countries where English is spoken are also forced to enroll get familiar with American English.

Thus, the costs involved can be a setback to immigrants who lack the financial strength. For instance, an immigrant from China will find it hard to adapt to the US. Thus, more time will be required before they can begin their education. Such an individual will spend a lot of time learning English before they can begin the actual studies that took them to the U.S. Moreover, foreign-born immigrants are more likely to come from backgrounds that are characterized by poverty in comparison to native-born children of immigrants.

Conclusion

In conclusion, establishing support groups within educational institutions like universities will be an effective policy to help an immigrant to adapt to new cultures. New environments can have various effects on an immigrant. If policies are not implemented to cater to the immigrants, then they may be unable to cope and be affected academically, emotionally, and culturally.

Immigrants should be made aware of the cultural differences that exist in the destination country. Furthermore, such an initiative will inform the young immigrants of the requirements of their new environments. This would make it easier for immigrants to adapt because they are aware of what is expected of them. Moreover, such policies would provide immigrants with an avenue to express their problems and the difficulties that they face.

References

Bauder, H. (2012). Immigration and settlement : challenges, experiences, and opportunities. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.

Brown, J. (2010). Immigration narratives in young adult literature: Crossing borders. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Freilich, J. D., & Guerette, R. T. (2006). Migration, culture conflict, crime and terrorism. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

Perkins, M. (2005). A note to young immigrants. Teaching Tolerance, (28), 24-25.

Qin, D. B., Way, N., & Mukherjee, P. (2008). The other side of the model minority story the familial and peer challenges faced by Chinese American adolescents. Youth & Society, 39(4), 480-506.

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