Biography of an Immigrant Research Paper

A. There are three components to this assignment.

1. Interview an immigrant to the USA, i.e., an individual who was not born in the USA but rather moved to the USA from another country after he or she was born. (See interview questions, below.)

3. Write a 7 pages paper, excluding cover page and bibliography. While you will not be penalized for a writing a paper over 7 pages, you will be penalized for one under 7 pages.

B. Immigrant Selection: Two options for your biographical subject (you cannot interview yourself): First Option: An immigrant to the USA who was/is your ancestor or relative (including spouse, in-laws, a parent. You cannot interview yourself). If available, you will find it useful to use any family histories, letters, diaries, genealogies, photographs, scrapbooks, etc., available to you. You may to need to interview other family members who are knowledgeable about your subject, and, if possible, use on-line data from genealogical or heritage sites (e.g., Latter Day Saints, Ellis Island Immigration and Naturalization,


Second Option: An immigrant to the USA who is not your relative (e.g., neighbor, friend, friend’s mother, co-worker, etc.) As with option one, consider available resources.

Use the second option as approved by the teacher. The immigrant is my coworker from Ghana his name is Sarfo Herman. He came to USA in 2011…… just make up a story for this essay

C. Interview Questions: Ask your respondent all of the below questions. Provide as much detail as possible in your answers. Use relevant course concepts and/or theories stressed in lecture/meeting notes and the readings in your essay. This is a formal essay so do not number your paragraphs.

1. Where and when was the individual born? From where did the individual immigrate to the USA?

2. Why did he/she emigrate? (e.g., economic opportunity, political freedom, religious freedom, family reunification, escape from military conscription, the lure of the American Dream.)

3. According to your subject, what was lifelike in the ‘old country?’

4. Why did the USA allow the individual to immigrate to the USA? (e.g., political or religious asylum, family reunification, in demand occupation clearance, Green Card Lottery winner).

5. Consult US Census Table 2: in Blackboard). Did he or she arrive in the USA during a peak period of immigration for his or her ethnic group? If so, have your subject explain what was going on in the country of origin that fostered immigration of so many emigrants (e.g., 19th c. potato famine).

6. By what means of travel & what point of entry did he/she arrive in the USA? Is this a usual entry site for group?

7. Did he/she arrive with other family members or friends? Did he/she join other family members already residing in the USA? If so, who?

8. Where did the individual initially settle? Why that location? Where did he/she finally settle? Why that location?

9. What resources did the person possess that assisted him or her with the move to the USA (e.g., money, education, job opportunity, family waiting here, etc.)? How so?

10. Upon arrival to the USA, and in later years, how was he/she treated by other Americans and by other immigrants? Welcomed, encounter prejudice, discriminated against? By whom? If the person claims there was no discrimination, probe deeper. If no discrimination, consider the following. Did he or she settle in an ethnically homogenous neighborhood with people of the same ethnic or racial origin, or in a city or region of the USA known for valuing diversity? Is it a cultural norm of the person’s country of origin not to complain about such treatment? Is the person from a group whose ethnicity is easily assimilated and that has a history of being valued in the USA?

11. Explain what personal characteristics and aspects of the American values system made the person well-suited or ill-suited for American life? Individualism, materialism, ambition, optimism, success, freedom of expression, self-improvement, equality, equal access and opportunity, progress, conquering and taming nature, etc.

12. Using the course concepts of assimilation, cultural pluralism, and ethnic identity to assist you in your analysis, discuss to what degree the individual assimilated to an American identity. Did he or she embrace cultural pluralism and preserve or shed old world cultural attitudes and practices or not? Discuss.

13. Did the individual eventually bring other family members over from his or her country of origin? When? Why?

14. Is the individual a naturalized US citizen or on that path? If not, why not? Discuss.

15. Have recent US politics, laws, and/ or international events impacted the status of this group in the USA?

a) Write a reference for any interviews you conduct, in a section called: Interviews. Note the name of the person, and date and time of the interview, and whether the interview was by email, phone, or in person (or some combination); if you met in person, write where and the date.

b) While you are welcome to use Takaki and other course materials in your paper (cite them!), you must consult a minimum of three external peer reviewed journal articles, government documents, or chapters from other scholarly books, * published in 2010 or after, to help you provide more in-depth analysis. Older references are fine as additional references, as some texts are classics, but you must have three newer ones. Failure to use at least three scholarly peer-reviewed sources published in 2010 or after will result in a substantial docking of your grade. (*University press books; serious ‘trade’ books written for a scholarly audience such as Sage, Basic Books, etc. Check with me if you need help with this.) Use APA citation and reference system.

The below questions (coordinated to the interview questions above) might be fruitful research topics.

• What were/are the major causes of immigration in the 20th/21st century to the U.S. by members of this nation group? Consider when your subject immigrated when you do the research.

• What were the peak years for immigration of this group to the USA? Why?

• What are some of the biggest challenges members of this group experience in the U.S.?

• -Have recent US laws or international events impacted this group in the USA? For example: If your subject is from Mexico, major developments in Arizona law have had serious consequences for Mexican-Americans and other peoples from Latin America. If your subject is from an Arab Middle Eastern nation, wars, terror, and political events have had a serious impact on cultural attitudes toward immigration from some nations.

• How has the group been received by the dominant U.S. population?

• How have they adjusted to life in the USA?

• What is their typical educational attainment?

• What kinds of jobs, careers and professions do they typically enter?

Course Textbook

Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (REV), 1st Edition

By: Takaki, Ronald