ImmigrantWhat comes in mind when you hear the word immigration? People have different thoughts on this question considering their geographic, psychographic, and demographic areas. For many the word immigration makes one think of hope, liberty, opportunity, and for some people the first thing that comes to mind when they think of the word immigration is the word illegal.

Everyone has their own opinion on what it means to be an immigrant. However, very few know the deep struggles immigrant parents and their children face every day in the United States. Being a young refugee who migrated to the Unites States at age thirteen, I have carefully studied the struggles my parents and I face on day to day basis.

In this article, I am going to share with you the struggles immigrant parents and their children are facing today. This is important because if everyone was aware of what others are going through, we would know how to value, and treat others wholeheartedly. How wonderful would that be?

 

Struggles Immigrant Parents Are More Likely to Face on Day to Day Basis
From a number of immigrant parents that I have interacted with, many among them claim that their immigrant status is keeping them from being treated equally especially in their job activities.

In my mind they are two kinds of immigrants: olmmies and newmmies. There are immigrants who have arrived to the United States long ago and have mastered the lifestyle. In addition, their children are not associated with the status of being a refugee or an immigrant. I identify these people as olmmies. Olmmies are immigrants who have arrived to the United States before the year of 2000. Immigrants who have migrated to the United States after the year of 2000 are what I call newmmies. These immigrants include my family who came to the United States in 2008.

Since I belong in the category of the newmies it is only fair to talk about what I understand. Newmies like my parents face the challenges of speaking the English language. As result, my mom is forced to work the harder tasks because everyone else are capable to talk themselves out of it.

Newmmies want to be treated like everybody else. They want to receive the same service everyone is getting. For example, they want to get the right medicines and get treated fairly when they go the hospitals. A number of newmmies went to school back in their home country but were not given the opportunity to expand their knowledge and their horizon when they came to the Unites States. It is flabbergasting at how a newmmie might go from being a High School principal to working in factories.

Just like everybody else, newmmies are concerned about their safety. For example, in Australia there was a Congolese family that was harassed by their white American neighbor who stood in front of their house insulting them saying they should go back to Africa because they are making her feel like a minority in her own country. Realities go from these kinds of stories of discrimination and belittling to the challenges of having to raise their own children in a new country.

Some immigrant parents have a difficulty raising their children in the new country. Children adapt quickly behaviors of a particular environment and might want to live with those behaviors with parents who cannot stand it. These parents might want their children to keep their culture and tradition alive but very few do. For some parents, it is somewhat difficult to raise children who turn into American quicker than the process of actually becoming one.

 

Struggles Immigrant Children Are More Likely to Face
Most immigrant people have names that are like calculus to the American people. This is one of the big challenges an immigrant young person might be facing today. In the United States, people have short names and those that have long ones have given into pressure of making their names short and easy to pronounce such as Smith.

Young immigrants suffer especially at schools where they have to say their last names two or three times in order for a teacher or a fellow student to get a glimpse of it. People lough at our names especially our family names as if no one should ever name their children Kubwayo. We get angry at our names especially when they are very long because we are tired of being made fun of by pretty much everyone.

As result, we give in into peer pressure and knowingly mispronounce our own names or shorten it because we want to fit in with the rest of the crowd. Some of us struggle with self-acceptance because we are forced to be on someone’s radar of “what we ought to be.” They change our names from being Epperokiyo to Epps. From a beautiful name such as Baraka which means blessing in Swahili to a name that should be given to a rapper such as B-Kay.

As a young immigrant, I have always wanted to change my last name to something unique in the English language. Yet, I have forgotten how unique and victorious my last name is. Recently, I have come to understand that my last name is my legacy, I should protect it. The last name you have is all you have. From being informed about this, I hustle and grind for my last name because I know what I am carrying, a legacy. I would be unjust to myself changing or mispronouncing my own name to please another man. In fact, I have realized that it is my responsibility to teach others the true meaning of my names because it changes their perception of it.

Young immigrant wants to be just like their friends. We want to have what our friends have but we forget the reality we are living into. We want to act like our friends but little do we know that we are given up on our own awesomeness. Another struggle a young immigrant especially a newmmie might have is being comfortable enough to welcome his or her parents to his or her school related activities. Some parents might still struggle with the language or might have never attended an event like soccer banquet before.

So we know that that our parents might not be comfortable especially when they do not know the other attendees. Some young immigrant might not even invite their parents or might feel embarrassed to have their parents present at their extracurricular activities for multiple of different reasons.

There are numerous of struggles both big and small immigrants face in the today society. In this article I have tried to name the most important ones for you. I hope that you have taken away something from my outlook on struggles immigrant parents and their children face on day to day basis.

Born in the small African country, Burundi, Wilson Kubwayo is now an inspirational speaker and talks to diverse audiences about his theme, “Climbing the Walls of Greatness: How to live life to your fullest potential.”

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