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Becoming American and Creating America

Becoming American and  Creating America

“Diffusion of ideas, a pattern of behavior, or an exchange of material objects is always a two-way street between societies.” Ralph Linton- Anthropologist

In May, we wrapped up the documentary film and discussion series on our immigration experience: Becoming American.  Community members were invited to explore and engage in a series of topics to connect to and understand diverse immigrant experiences.  Historic and current tension between Americans’ acceptance of immigrants, identity and acculturation, Americans’ economic relationship with immigrants, and the interdependent relationship between immigration and popular culture were all topics discussed.

Tapping into the power of each film, Dr. Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello (published scholar & SSU professor), guided participants with varied experiences and differing perspectives to engage in dialogue with the intentional goal of personal and collective learning.  This program structure allowed us to recognize that knowledge can be drawn from both personal experience and formal learning; furthermore, that it is possible for two very different, and at times opposing perspectives to coexist respectfully.

After the third film, participants were posed the following question: “What do we need to do to build/maintain trust between newcomers and receiving communities?” Read some of the answers below:

“To build trust and a sense of community, we need to share common experiences, try to understand each other’s perspectives and see the goodness in each other.”

“Schedule discussions like Becoming American in communities where newcomers arrive.”

“Be honest.  Be open.  Be flexible. Offer help. Be trusting.”

“Humanize people through stories and call on the community to help.”

“Listen.  Have conversations and create relationships as equal partners.  Be willing and open to learning.”


To read more about the Becoming American film and discussion series, visit:

Date: May 31, 2019

Author: Sarah Garriepy

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