Immigrants in Rural America: The Experiences and Perceptions of Hispanic Integration in Bennington, Vermont.

Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Ken Williams


This nation as a whole is a nation of immigrants. As many deny their ancestry, feel they have no connection to it and adopt a solely American identity, it is important to see what is happening to the new immigrants of today. Particularly in the lives of Hispanic immigrants, who now represent the largest ethnic group in North America. “ In 2030, nearly 1 in 4 U.S. residents will be Hispanic, up from nearly 1 in 7 in 2005” (Committee on Population [CPOP] & Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education [DBASSE], (2006).

Although there are numerous Hispanics in this country, many homogenous rural towns such as Bennington, Vermont still have a small Hispanic population impacting both long-term residents and newcomers. Are they welcomed with open arms or simply set aside and ignored because they do not fit into the mainstream perceived American culture?

This study explores the lived experiences of a small group of Hispanic community members living and/or working within Bennington, Vermont. The findings reveal why they left their birth countries, what effective resources exist for them, challenges faced for community integration, and perceptions about what resources are needed for a smoother transition. Unfortunately, language ability and discrimination are the two largest barriers for community integration. These research results add to the lack of studies on this topic, within this geographic region.

In sum, positive integration is always a two-way process and its effectiveness is not simply

determined by what immigrants bring with them in the way of human capital. On the

contrary, it is the extent to which newcomers encounter a welcoming economic, social, and

political environment that is most determining of successful integration and assimilation”

(Carranza & Gouveia, 2002, p.3).


Immigration Law | Sociology of Culture

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