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Lasell Students Speak to the Community About Immigrant Experiences

November 18, 2011

At an event designed to address misconceptions about immigration, a panel of Lasell students recently shared with the college community their experiences as immigrants to the U.S. and the stereotypes and challenges they have faced.

Facilitated by Professor Marsha Mirkin, the panel included students Nicole DeSilva, Winsky Norceide, Jean Leger, Irfan Meah, and Ninwa Hanna and aimed to educate the Lasell community about the challenges faced by immigrants through the students' stories.

Representing several countries including Haiti, Bangladesh, Syria, and Cape Verde, the panel discussed misconceptions they encounter living in the United States such as stereotypes, and language and education barriers.

The students discussed stereotypes and their struggle to dispel such assumptions. One student from Bangladesh cited he was bullied in elementary school following 9/11 for being a Muslim. A student from Syria explained her obstacles growing up with an Arab heritage, explaining that although she is Christian, many assume her to be Muslim because of her home country.

Two students from Haiti expressed their concerns with the American perceptions of Haitians - including that they practice voodoo. The students reminded the audience that most Haitians do not support this practice.

A Cape Verdean student faces surprised reactions from strangers when they learn she is in college pursing a degree.

All five students agreed that education was a motivating factor in coming to the United States, although they reported that some Americans assume their cultures do not value education.

The students also agreed that finding a balance between their culture and an American culture can be challenging. They discussed how they must constantly educate their friends and peers on their beliefs and traditions-but enjoy teaching others about their culture.

-Amanda Comeau


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