Appendix III: Student Comments

This project helped me a lot as a student because I actually wanted to do work I was proud of for the first time in my life. I think about school pragmatically, and I haven’t felt connected to the work I’m doing because it’s usually vacuous and empty.  As more research piled up and the final project began to take shape, I found myself emotionally investing in the work I was doing. This wasn’t the comfortable, familiar “investment” I feel when I’m being pulled apart by perfectionism and deadlines like a human wishbone. It was a new feeling. Perhaps it was knowing about the possibility of publishing, or the looming threat of failure, or because I had no job to blindly fling all of my self worth into, but there were moments this term where I was proud of my product. I learned that I have to take school seriously because there are people behind every topic we research.

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I know these stories are purposefully not talked on a more national level as a way to control the narrative surrounding immigration. I knew immigration was a difficult and very racist/xenophoic process but I never knew the extent. The costs, the danger, the hoops and systems set up to intentionally turn people away, the things people have to endure on their way here. One of the common threads I had noticed/wrote about was how many folks spoke of feeling not part of either the US or that of the country they left, many feeling in limbo or simply not feeling they have a sense of rootedness in any country.

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My ideas of immigration have changed over the term. When starting the project I had never really thought about how much hardship refugees go through, and how hard it can be to gain US citizenship. I also had never really thought about how difficult it can be for many to adjust to American life and ways of living. That we have so much more freedom here (like free speech and freedom of the press), that many people from other countries don’t really get to experience. I have also gained such a tremendous amount of respect for refugees, because many deal with war and trauma first-hand, and have such hard lives.

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I definitely think differently about what it means to be a part of the United States. Before doing this project I understood that there were different types of refugee statuses. However, I didn’t really know what each one entailed. For example, I didn’t know that there was a certain category of refugees who come to the US to escape war and be placed based on ethnic communities or with family they have here. I also didn’t know how many different types of statuses there were, and how each one is so different from another. That some allow you to keep your citizenship from the country you were born in, but some don’t. I never really truly got the time to think about the obstacles and odds they face while trying to gain refugee status. It’s very humbling to read of first hand accounts from refugees that not only live in Portland, but have connections to PCC.

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The immigration project for this class was truly one of the most amazing assignments I have ever done. I always try to do my best on my assignments, but when I’m doing an essay there is always a sense of, “well, this is really just to show I know how to write this kind of paper, the teacher is the only person who is going to see it.” But with this project I knew that my work wouldn’t just be published to the public, but that I was also working with a real person’s story and history, who would also be seeing the finished product. I felt that this fact created a reverence to my research that I have never experienced before.

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I have always thought that all immigrants should be welcomed, especially considering how our country was formed, but I do feel that this project gave me even more respect (and certainly more understanding) of what many people go through to come here. I think this project showed me that many people who come here would not have chosen to leave their homes, had circumstances been different. So often people like to paint this picture of America being the goal and the holy grail for every single person to strive for, when in reality the world is a much bigger place. I think, since this project, I also realized that Latinos aren’t the only ones seeking refuge here, nor are they the only group that faces racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. I think sometimes I get caught up in the “mainstream issues” and forget, once again, that there is a lot more going on than is being talked about.

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