On Sunday, April 28, the Winchester Multicultural Network, in conjunction with the YWCA’s nation-wide Stand Against Racism campaign, provided a moving and awareness-raising program featuring the stories of local women who are immigrants, as well as a presentation regarding legal and systemic challenges facing immigrants. Salma Abounadi, originally from Morocco; Chrep Meitner, originally from Cambodia; Phuni Meston, born in a settlement in India after her parents fled Tibet following the Chinese invasion; and Juanita Zerda, originally from Colombia; shared personal experiences and insights. Matt Segal, the Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, provided information about legal challenges presented by the current administration, and what the ACLU is fighting in court.
Commonalities in the immigrant experience
While each immigrant has their own personal story, common themes emerged. Many had faced challenges in their country of origin, and we heard about extreme poverty, violent conflict and genocide, and oppressive political regimes. We also learned about challenges faced once in the United States, including: restricted opportunities, depending upon the type of visa; racism; dealing with the feelings of loss about what was left behind; the difficulty adapting to new (often unspoken) norms, without guidance; a sense of isolation, heightened by language difficulties and lack of translations; and a feeling of carrying a national burden for those still in the country of origin.
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