Saturday, September 2, 2017
COMMUNITY-BUILDING U.S.A. AT ITS BEST: WITH SKILL AND EMPATHY
First, border walls against the foreigner have been tried for centuries. A couple of examples:
Roman Empire: Hadrian’s Wall, Northern England, 170 a.d.
China: Great Wall(s) over the centuries.
In general, they've failed.
Second, some nations—especially North and South America, build their communities and economies from generations of immigrants as well as from original inhabitants. In recent years, Germany, the U.K. and some African nations have strengthened themselves by accepting and integrating immigrants and refugees.
A gripping story from the U.S.: that of Trevor Modeste.
In 1967, won a lottery run out of the American embassy in Trinidad for immigration to the U.S. Once having won, the family left their home town immediately; young Trevor arrived in the U.S. with whatever possessions he could carry. The family obtained “Green Card” permanent residency permits but no citizenship.
Now in 2017, the 61-year-old has finally obtained citizenship. He was coached and helped toward citizenship by staff at Tacoma Community House, a not-for-profit settlement agency in Washington State.
Trevor Modeste in the Tacoma Community House office
Photo source: Tacoma Community House
To obtain citizenship, the U.S. requires the applicant to pass a civics test, both oral and written. Modeste has disabilities that make speech and writing difficult. He was tutored, and coached and encouraged by Jesus Pinedo, an immigration specialist at Tacoma Community House.
Over the years since its founding nearly a century ago, Tacoma Community House has helped hundreds obtain citizenship. The immigrants included Italians, Vietnamese, Hispanics of many nations, and others: not only with citizenship preparation but with cooking skills, language training and job placement.
This is a major avenue to community today—through citizenship training in settlement houses, public schools, public libraries. Today, movement across national boundaries is not only desirable but inevitable. Let's make the best out of it for existing populations and newcomers.
The resettlement spirit is diametrically opposite to the wall-building Neo-Nazi spirit exemplified in the world today. Refugees and immigrants will learn, with the help of their new community, to become viable and productive members of the community. In today’s world, keeping others out or alienated is out of step.
In worship we pray for the homeless and hungry. In daily life we should follow through with assistance, whenever and wherever possible, to the groups for whom we pray.
Trevor’s story was first reported on the Tacoma Community House website. You can read the original here.
While you're on the Tacoma Community House site, consider a contribution to the work of the highly deserving Tacoma Community House.