Meet Sai Lakshmi Balaji

Behind every great story, there is an inspiration that kicks it all off. The focus on these posts, personally, has been on education or lack thereof for new Americans. The story was inspired by Sai, a woman that works at Sam’s Club and was mentioned very early on in the first story. When I initially spoke with her, I had no idea how big of a piece she would have within the grand scheme of things. However, during our first meeting, she pointed out that a major problem with immigrants coming over to the U.S. was the lack of education they were getting in their home country or the fact that they were not getting proper education here, which led to dropping out of school. While some people can thrive and become successful without education, most need it and it is a very important aspect in ones life because it can lead to better opportunities and help build a stable future.  Continue reading

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Literacy Green Bay

When taking a look back, the problem that these new Americans face, according to the statistics shown, is they are not getting the proper education needed. Whether that is due to dropping out of school, bad teaching habits, or just not getting the right education from their homeland, it is very apparent that something has to be changed. One thing pointed out was the fact that the teachers had to have a really good understanding of how to teach new Americans the curriculum in a way that would be understood. However, this cannot necessarily be the full answer to the problem because every teacher has a different teaching style and approach in the classroom. When these students are having a difficult time in school, they resort to dropping out. Even after dropping out, they still need to have ways to get properly educated for life outside of the classroom, especially if they need to learn English.  Continue reading

Baseball invites Immigrants to Dominate

By Karlee Dies

Comedian Trevor Noah talks Sports in America

The crowd is cheering. The aroma of hot dogs, popcorn and excitement fill the area. The teams are playing their heart out. Memories are being made. Some of the greatest memories come from sports. American sports are known for great fans, great games, and great athletes.

Continue reading

Places with language barrier

by Taylor Buffington

Based on what I have picked up there are some places in the Erie area where New Americans may struggle with English. East High School in Erie is a place where learning English is probably a big deal. Learning a new language is probably harder on kids than it is on adults. East High School has so many students that probably need some help.

east

http://www.eriesd.org/east

East High School is a high school located in Erie, Pennsylvania and it has many students who are learning English. I did an internship with a program that took place at East High and in the main entrance of the building there are maps from many countries around the world. During the time of my internship I was curious as to why those maps were there. The map were of far off countries like Iraq and Ethiopia. Upon taking advanced electronic journalism I would learn why the maps were there.

I learned that East High is well known for having cultural diversity. East High has approximately 900 students and of those 900 students 300 of them are English language learners. School can be a very hard place to fit in even for students who already speak English. It is quite hard to imagine how much harder it is for the students who can’t speak English. It is great that students have opportunities to learn English and that there are some people out there that are willing to lend a hand to students who need help learning English.

A New Hope

 

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Where am I from? You might never know.

Overseas lays my heart, but yet here I must grow.

I can’t bear to remain in this place, yet I’m told for a living, this country has grace.

Will I thrive through the difference or create some resistance?

Will I try to fit in or will I die from within?

Because living so different, here, is a sin.

I can’t live on my own, I need help from loved ones.

But when I’m so far from my home…where are my loved ones?

I’ve heard from my family that there’s places that help.

But how can I go when I’m not feeling myself?

And by “myself,” I mean someone who’s “cool.”

Because we all know if you’re not popular, you’re a fool. Continue reading

Baseball and a Dream: The Story of Successful Businessman Fernando Aguirre

By Karlee Dies

fernando-aguirre

A boy. A favorite sport of baseball. A dream. And Determination.

Fernando Aguirre was born and raised in Mexico City. His love for baseball started out at an early age.

As a kid around 12 or 13, his father took their family to San Antonio, Texas to play in a baseball tournament.

“At that time, my dad used to speak very good English and we saw him interact with people and he would speak for all of us, the family. He would order food and take us shopping and whatever we wanted to do,” said Aguirre.

It was at this time that in admiration for his dad’s speaking abilities that he too wanted to speak English like he did.

Continue reading

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Though there are many downsides that new Americans are faced with when they come to America, there are also many immigrant students who have good experiences that outweigh the bad.  While most are bullied for their accents or clothing or choice in music, etc. there are also a large portion of students who don’t have those unfortunate experiences.

For one student who came from Bosnia to America in 2013, Adina Spahalic, she has had mostly good experience.  Coming to Erie, Pa to attend a local high school and play tennis, she faced some of the similar stories that many other new American students have.  She recalls, “in Bosnia, we would call lettuce ‘green salad’ in literal translation, and I would always say ‘green salad’ when I first moved here and people would always laugh at that.”  This is just another tell tale story of a new American trying to overcome the boundaries that come with living in a country that doesn’t speak your native language.  Spahalic even remembers that the way people would laugh at her mis-translations was mockingly, not endearingly.  Another recollection was when she would go to fast food restaurant establishments: “The menus were so complicated and I would need a long time to decide what I want, and people in line behind me would get angry with how long I was taking. I would get rolling of eyes from the people in line.”

Beyond these small instances when Spahalic had to deal with the rude, impatient behavior of Americans who don’t have the compassion or empathy for people coming to America and all the adjustments they had to make, she overall has had a pretty positive experience since being in America.

Today, Spahalic has state champion tennis titles under her belt, as well as a continuing education at a local college in Erie, Pa.  While she did spend some time back in her home country between her completion of high school and beginning of college, she has hopes to get her degree here in America and find a job and become a permanent resident of the country.

She has had her fair share of being made fun for her Bosnian accent; however she shares that a majority of the reactions she has gotten from Americans about her accent have been that they find it “cute.” Additionally, she stated, “People usually respond very positively to the fact that I’m from a different country and usually ask me a bunch of questions.  I do get teased for my accent but I wouldn’t call it bullying because no one has made me feel especially badly about the way I speak.”

In a demographic that is known to have to endure plenty of bullying and shaming and even abuse, it is a refreshing fact that there are also many new American individuals who have had nothing but mostly positive experiences and are happy they are able to come here.  Spahalic’s situation is definitely somewhat rare, considering she came here by choice and has had an education set up for her as well as a very successful athletic career in addition to having plenty of good experiences here.

With the increasing numbers of immigrants infiltrating into America from other countries every single year, it’s in the hopes of many that welcoming and empathetic behavior will only increase as well so more new Americans can feel nothing but welcomed and loved in “the land of opportunity” and truly live the “American dream.”

adina

Assimilation Nation Podcast: Old Songs New Opportunities.

The Assimilation Nation Podcast sits down with Kelly Armor the Director of Education and Folk Art at The Erie Art Museum to talk about the art museums Old Songs New Opportunities program and their new CD project Simba La La.

To learn more about Old Songs New Opportunities visit their page on the Erie Art Museum website here.

Home in America: Pittsburgh, PA

BY TRACY GEIBEL

As a young girl growing up in Guyana, she was content watching her father make art.  She grew taller, she grew older, but she also grew in her love for art and knew at an early age that it would be a significant part of her life.

Executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, janera solomon has been able to share her love of the arts with the entire community.

She considers herself to be a rule-follower, but spells her name in lowercase as a form of rebellion, a safe form of rebellion.  She began writing it that way in elementary school and has been doing so ever since.

solomon came to America when she was nine years old.  Her father worried about the country’s future, but more so about his four daughters and their futures.  solomon explained that Prime Minister Ptolemy A. Reid had become progressively more conservative, worrying artists and intellectuals alike.  More so, the country’s economic crisis was lowering the living standard.  Like other countries in the Caribbean region, Guyana struggled because its most common exports yielded low income.  Continue reading