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Coming to America: Stories and Conversations Across Generations About Immigration

What IF…? Online Community Conversation Series: Coming To America – Fall 2020

The Interactivity Foundation (IF) has partnered with the Friends of India Association and the Diversity Relations Council at Leisure World in Silver Spring, Maryland to organize this Coming to America series of events with stories and conversations about immigration.

We are meeting monthly on Zoom to hear stories by volunteer participants about one aspect of their immigration experience. We then split into breakout rooms for small group conversations for about an hour to reflect upon the stories we just heard, share our own stories, and talk about various aspects of immigration in general.

You might know that IF has a discussion guide call Human Migration. ‘But why stories?’ you might ask if you are a regular participant in IF conversations. One reason is just that often complex policy issues can be better illustrated and understood at a very human and personal level. A second reason is that I was inspired by this quote: “Storytelling forges connections among people, and between people and ideas. Stories convey the culture, history, and values that unite people.”  And finally, and importantly, our partner, the Friends of India Association, were interested in trying this approach.

We have a different sub-topic and set of questions to explore in each month’s conversation. They are:

September 17th: Why Do People Migrate?

  • What drives people to leave?
  • What pulls them to the new places?

October 15th: Being Here: What Does it Mean to Be Part of a New Country?

  • Do you believe that most communities have their own special identities? If so, what do you think determines the identity of a community and why?
  • What do you think constitutes assimilation to a local community? And why?
  • How much assimilation is enough? And why?
  • How long does it take to assimilate?
  • What are the roles of families, employment, and education?
  • We often talk about immigrants ‘assimilating’. How do you think about this? Is there a better word or a different concept you’d choose? What is it—and why?

November 19th: The Role of Family

  • Do you think keeping immigrant family’s together help or hinder their assimilation? Why or why not?
  • What do you think constitutes a family or a community? Who should decide this and why?
  • Do you think the definition of a family should be specific to each culture? Why or why not?
  • Do you think we should prioritize certain types of families and communities for immigration purposes? If so, which types? And why?

December 17th: The Future of Immigration

  • What are your questions and concerns about the future of immigration?
  • What are some of the ways to address them?

We are grateful to our partners for helping to organize this series, to all the volunteer storytellers for sharing their stories, and to all the participants for thoughtfully engaging in these conversations.

The Interactivity Foundation shares a short summary of the main ideas discussed after each event. You can find them here after each event: September 17, October 15, November 19, and December 17.

IF Facilitators for this Community Conversation series:

Ieva Notturno

Jeff Prudhomme

Pete Shively

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