As our ancestors – or more recently, ourselves, parents or grandparents – traveled thousands of miles to find safety in another country for various reasons, the process of adapting to life in a new place is often challenging.
My great-grandparents came from Belarus to Newark, New Jersey, in 1905. While they barely ever learned English themselves, they made sure that their children learned English and that they did well in school. Their children and grandchildren went on to college and became doctors, engineers or entered other professions. Perhaps it was easier for them as the Yiddish-speaking immigrant community in Newark of that time was so large. There was always someone – who had arrived much earlier and learned the system - to help out with the language or whatever problem needed to be solved.
It is different when an immigrant is part of a new, smaller group of people who have only recently arrived. The community support system is not yet that well-established and the immigrants or refugees rely on the wider community to help them.
A recent study by sociologists at the University of Dayton (Ohio) indicates that adjusting to linguistic and cultural differences is a daunting task. They presented the new research at the 107th meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).