Community Engaged Research Projects Reflection

I am intrigued by the theme of identity that came up in almost all our readings and discussions. There is power in identity, in that the social, political, and cultural networks that are often associated with identity can make a significant impact on what is possible for people. Networks are particularly important for migrants because they are changing locations and thus can use help adapting to a new environment such as finding work, etc. Often living a transnational and multicultural lifestyle, difficulties arise as people navigate their identity, and thus how they interact with their networks, when they migrate. Separations from family or isolation in their receiving countries can disrupt life. I am interested in looking at opportunities to help families and individuals navigate this transition, as nuanced as it is to be working as a third party to the situation in many ways.

Beyond the more tangible consequences of identity on networks, I am also drawn to identity on a cultural and emotional level. People become closely connected to their family traditions and the culture they grow up with, and migration puts people in a place where they may feel that they have to choose between their sending and receiving countries' cultural practices. Some may desire a blend between the two and can imagine that working. I am interested in what ways on a personal level I can help people settle into their cultural identity as they would like. Personal identity is the center of our mental and emotional activity, so I believe supporting migrants' personal identities can help with many challenges that come to them. One possible way to support them is to provide a platform to express themselves, but there are many other ways (and variations on providing platforms of expression) to solidify personal identity while building trust and friendship on a local level that I hope to learn about.

Looking back on this quarter so far, we have been focusing on the theoretical and/or abstract side of migration. I think this is necessary for an introduction into such a vast and complex topic. Yet, it has generally left me unclear as to what migrants need or want from people like me. I am sure there are things we can do to help, and I look forward to getting more specific about it as we look at the specific community organizations we are working with. We can start our work on the basis of the organizations' already-established missions, and I think those details will combine my understanding of migration and identity with present-day action.