immigrants_1951by theoryforthemasses

Immigrants’ stories of sacrifice and (re)settlement are often overshadowed by statistics about demographics like educational attainment, income, and family size; the stories themselves remain untold. A recent New York Times article explores the impact of these stories on the children of immigrant families. Each year sociologist and Hunter College professor Nancy Foner teaches a class entitled “The Peopling of New York” wherein she asks students to interview a close relative about recent family history. Given that many of Foner’s students are children of immigrant parents, the stories they collect often involve accounts of immigration and the sacrifices it entailed. Students are surprised to learn these stories, and many develop a new appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices their parents made. Understanding the reasons why these stories are pushed aside upon arrival, and the effects of their telling, may have important implications for understanding the processes of both assimilation and identity formation for immigrants and their children alike.

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