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Advice to immigrants

            Many immigrants courageously come to the U.S. knowing little of the language and customs.  It takes them a long time to adapt. When I was their English teacher, social worker, roommate and friend, I used to advise them:

 

-          Consider living near your relatives, your ethnic group, a good climate (very important) and between a big city where the jobs are and the country where you’re more of an individual.

-          Learn about self-help groups.  If you can’t find one, start one.

-          Avoid welfare – the longer you’re on, the harder to get off.

-          Some people have more ability than others for learning a language.  Progress comes in levels.  You’re on one level for a while, seeming to make no progre­ss, then you suddenly move to a higher level, stay there for a long time, and later move up.

-          The 1st generation of immigrants works hard, the 2nd generation gets educated, the 3rd prospers.

-          Immigrants who have been here for a long time sometimes resent recent immigrants from their country as ‘fresh off the boat.’

-          Older immigrants want to preserve the customs, partly to retain some of the control and status they’ve lost.  This can be overdone.

-          There are differences among cultures – take the best from each.

 

Be realistic about the media (TV, magazines, newspapers).  They  promote myths.

 

 

Myths                                                                Reality

 

-          The U.S. is a melting pot ……. (false, it’s a salad bowl).

-          Time brings less prejudice ……………… (somewhat).

-          Being near another ethnic group brings goodwill …. (only some).

-           Discrimination is the main obstacle to minority advancement          ………..  (False, the Japanese and the Jews progressed the most when most discriminated against.)

-          Being Black holds one back ……….. (not black immigrants from the Caribbean).

-          Vocational education helps … (False, students in it change jobs, are out of work as much as anyone, and don’t earn more than those not in it.)

-           Whites are prejudiced ………… (Everyone has prejudices    about color, age, class, ethnicity, gender, income, education, occupation, race, religion, accents, lifestyles,  etc.)

-          The poor can avoid menial work with education and credentials       ……….. (Terrible advice as every group that got ahead in the U.S. did so by taking menial work and working harder than the class above.)

-          All social programs help …………………. (false.  Rent control is unfair and creates a housing shortage; guaranteed income hasn’t worked; welfare breaks up families and causes them to be resented by the working poor.)

-          There is no dignity in being poor ………. false.

 

Social workers

-          - Some get too emotional     -  with their talk about ‘compas­sion, caring, reaching out, dedica­tion, love, etc.’. 

-          Some get too friendly.  Keep a distance.

-          Some have no business sense – no address on the building, no sense of time, efficiency, cost, etc.  

-          Some have more problems than those they are trying to help.

-          Many use doubletalk and talk forever.

-          Most don’t believe in traditional values.

 

   A good one is sensible, clean cut, mature, uses plain English, is an agent – not a friend, is empathetic -not sympathetic, has something practical to offer, and meets you only half way. 

 

Many American poor                                           Immigrant poor

 

Live well compared to 3rd world ………. have seen real poverty.

Become homeless ……………………. most don’t.

Won’t take any job ………………….. will.

Panhandle …………………………….. don’t.

Often poor work habits …………… superb ones.

‘Can’t’ save money ……………… do & send it abroad to relatives.

Drop out …………………………….. study hard.

Rarely start a small business …….. often start one.

Look to government ………………. to selves.

Self-pity, resentment ……………. gratitude.

Bored ………………………………… never enough time.

Disprove the American dream ………. prove it (despite limited English).

 

 

 

Spokesmen for the Am. poor say               Immigrants say

 

Crowded living is subhuman ……….. is tolerable.

More handouts …………………… fewer in the long run.

Welfare is a right ………………… a cancer.

‘Decent, living’ wages & benefits …. any wage.

The poor are ‘oppressed’ …………. look at other countries for real oppression – no freedom of speech, press, protest, business, etc. 

Am. is discrimination, exploitation ……. opportunity.

Schools ‘fail’ the poor ………………. they are a blessing.

Crime, drugs, alcohol, illegitimacy, etc. are due to poverty ………… no excuse for these. 

 

   

 

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