Home Institution

Wesleyan University

Language Proficiency Level

SPAN 4000

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Comments

In high school, I complete an internship at the Latino Vote Project, an organization that helped register people to vote and spread awareness of issues relating to Latinos in Washington State. It was a transformative experience for me as I began working with extremely intelligent people who cared so much about the people they were working for and side-by-side. Over the years, I have developed the philosophy that the people within a society are its bedrock and of course immigration highly influences the makeup of that society. While working at my internship, I was struck by the amount of problems facing immigrants when they arrive at their country of destination. Thus, when coming to Spain, I wanted to analyze the difficulties that immigrants to Spain face in their daily lives.

In order to develop my interest, I went to volunteer at Granada Acoge, an organization that provides free services to immigrants in the city. They have six full time staff members: a lawyer, a social worker, a job placement specialist, a Spanish teacher and two organizers. As such, Granada Acoge helps immigrants with legal and social troubles, unemployment and language improvement. I volunteered two days a week for ten weeks – at first as a receptionist informing people of the services of the organization as they arrived for three weeks and later as an English teacher for seven weeks. I worked most closely with Silvia, who is a woman in her early 30s from Granada and is the lead organizer at Granada Acoge. Although she is not an immigrant herself, she empathizes with them and takes her work very seriously.

Silvia was one of three people I interviewed for this project. I also interviewed Assad, a Moroccan man from Tanger in his early 30s who was in my English class. I developed a friendly rapport with him during the first class, as although he is still a beginner student, he was one of the more advanced students in comparison to his peers. The other man, Juan, I met at the party of a friend and is from Argentina. In order to protect their identities, I have used fictional names in this report. During each interview, I appeared as friendly as possible and chatted with the subject, waiting to write up my notes and thoughts until immediately afterwards.

The report is written as follows: an opening introduction, methodology, a history of immigration in Spain, immigrant law, problems facing immigrants from an academic perspective, interview content and conclusions. In the end, I realized that the experiences of the immigrants I worked with are a lot more complicated than the academic literature would suggest. While scholars have mostly focused on problems of housing, jobs and discrimination and immigrants certainly encounter those issues, on the ground they mostly experience disorientation. However, immigrants I interviewed had few difficulties of obtaining legality and had already been accustomed to Spanish culture through family members.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society

 

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