Tag Archive | refugees

Grace: USM event on barriers to education and finishing up research

A few weeks ago I went to an event at the University of Southern Maine on the barriers New Mainers face in navigating higher education. There was a panel of refugees ranging from high school students to one of my co-workers at Catholic Charities who finished law school. There was also a panel of individuals working in service organizations and education. Here is a link to a story MPBN did on the event: MPBN event.

After the event at USM, I was able to interview two individuals working at different local high schools. Our conversations were fascinating, and I was surprised to find out how high the percentage of refugee and immigrant students were in the two schools (at the school in downtown Portland it’s about 1/4, and at the other school ten minutes out of town it’s about 1/3). In both conversations we spoke about barriers these students face, the biggest being language, as well as the programs schools are using to address these issues.

The interviews I have been able to conduct have been very rewarding and I have met some of the nicest people through the process. That said, it has been a lot more difficult than I expected to get individuals to commit to an interview. I feel that my project is only just now really gaining some ground and I don’t feel ready to return to school for the senior conference and then classes. I am excited to start the writing process again, but I feel as if I need more time to follow up on all of the new contacts I have been given (perhaps I will have to come back to Portland on the weekends or conduct interviews over the phone). I do not know if one ever feels quite finished with this type of research, but I definitely feel as if I need more closure to this project. Six weeks has felt like just enough time to get my bearings and to skim the surface. It is hard to leave just as I am getting at the good stuff!

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Grace: Refugees in Maine

Drawing from my past work in anthropology, political science, and public action, I am conducting a yearlong thesis examining the health issues faced by refugees and immigrants in and around Portland, Maine. There are a number of organizations in my home state of Maine working with the new refugee populations (many of whom are from Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Rwanda, and the DRC) that have come to settle around the city of Portland.

During my independent study this Field Work Term I will conduct an informal information and data-gathering project (including surveys, participant observation, and interviews) on the refugees in and around Portland and the organizations and institutions serving them. Ultimately I want the information from this project to help organizations working with these refugees to be more effective in addressing the population’s health needs. This requires that I take a broad look at the different challenges and influences surrounding the health of these refugee populations (e.g. healthcare, housing, food, heating, employment, etc.). Most importantly, I want to include refugee communities and the organizations working with them in the discussion, information gathering process, and the possible knowledge-based action that could come out of the research.

With my last term in the spring, I will further build on the last two terms to create a final piece of work. This piece will take the form of an ethnography, and both analyze how these organizations working with refugees in and around Portland Maine are having an impact on the health of the community, as well as identifying resources for them and supplying a series of recommendations of how they can better impact the health of the refugees. This will allow me to tie all my work together into a succinct form, and would complete the Plan Process for me at Bennington College by allowing me to use the tools I have acquired in anthropology and political science, and apply them to real-world issues through public action.

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While living in Portland is growing on me, after a week in the city Read More…

Grace: First Week with Catholic Charities, RIS

For the past week I have been working at Catholic Charities Maine Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS), as their Community Outreach and Capacity Building volunteer. During the past 30 years, Catholic Charities Maine, RIS have resettled over 12,000 refugees from more than 25 countries. RIS is Maine’s only active resettlement program, with contracts from the U.S. Departments of State and Health and Human Services, and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Besides the fact that RIS is the state’s only active resettlement program, one main reason why I was drawn to the organization is because they are working to identify and address potential problems where support services for refugees may be culturally inappropriate, or where those services do not exist (which correlates directly with my research questions).

One of the projects I have been working on this week is finding funding for their Elderly Services program. This has included grant research, phone calls to community members, and the design of a phone survey. This survey could turn into home visits with elderly Iraqi refugees in the area in order to gather information on what programming would be most beneficial to provide in the event that we obtain a grant.

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I have been reading through the Portland Press Herald for articles on new Mainers, and found this piece published on Christmas Day: http://www.pressherald.com/news/Safety_the_best_Christmas_gift_for_African_refugee_family_living_in_Maine_.html

Additionally, here is another article from the Portland Press Herald on a proposal by LePage that would prevent asylum seekers and some other immigrants from receiving General Assistance: http://www.pressherald.com/news/LePage_proposal_would_cut_asylum_seekers_from_aid__lifeline_.html

Grace: Refugees in Maine

Drawing from my past work in anthropology, political science, and public action, I am conducting a yearlong thesis examining the health issues faced by refugees and immigrants in and around Portland, Maine. There are a number of organizations in my home state of Maine working with the new refugee populations (many of whom are from Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Rwanda, and the DRC) that have come to settle around the city of Portland.

During my independent study this Field Work Term I will conduct an informal information and data-gathering project (including surveys, participant observation, and interviews) on the refugees in and around Portland and the organizations and institutions serving them. Ultimately I want the information from this project to help organizations working with these refugees to be more effective in addressing the population’s health needs. This requires that I take a broad look at the different challenges and influences surrounding the health of these refugee populations (e.g. healthcare, housing, food, heating, employment, etc.). Most importantly, I want to include refugee communities and the organizations working with them in the discussion, information gathering process, and the possible knowledge-based action that could come out of the research.

With my last term in the spring, I will further build on the last two terms to create a final piece of work. This piece will take the form of an ethnography, and both analyze how these organizations working with refugees in and around Portland Maine are having an impact on the health of the community, as well as identifying resources for them and supplying a series of recommendations of how they can better impact the health of the refugees. This will allow me to tie all my work together into a succinct form, and would complete the Plan Process for me at Bennington College by allowing me to use the tools I have acquired in anthropology and political science, and apply them to real-world issues through public action.

Image

While living in Portland is growing on me, after a week in the city Read More…