SALEM, MA — Immigration initiatives may have stalled in Congress but there are plenty of creative efforts on the home front. In the last Immigration Conversation of 2015, The House of the Seven Gables hosts a roundtable discussion to explore locally-based efforts here and across the country.
“We want to highlight those things that go on in quiet ways in communities,” says Ana Nuncio, Manager of Settlement Partnerships at The House of the Seven Gables. “It’s been left up to community leaders to figure out solutions. We want to end this year with a capstone discussion among daily life practitioners. We’ll talk about how it’s done in the many small but effective ways. What do we see in our local communities that is hopeful, and what we can learn?”
Immigration Conversations at The Gables highlight both the problems and solutions communities experience as immigrants settle and integrate. The idea for the series was sparked by the crisis at the border followed by the humanitarian crisis as Syrian refugees moved into Europe, and now, presidential campaign rhetoric. The Conversations align with The Gables’ Settlement mission, as well, in its longstanding support of immigrants. Another four Immigration Conversations are planned for 2016.
Among those leading the roundtable discussion is Westy Egmont, Professor at Boston College School of Social Work and Director of the Immigrant Integration Lab at Boston College. He also curated the recently installed “Dreams of Freedom: Boston’s Immigrant Experience,” an exhibition at the Prudential Observatory. Boston, with the sixth highest concentration of immigrants among American cities, “thrives because of the foreign born,” says Egmont. “The exhibition helps tell the incredible story of how we have grown as a city — grown increasingly diverse and richer.”
Professor Egmont will touch on the forced migrant brought on by the Syrian crisis and the reality of refugee migration around the world. “I will also address refugee reception here in America as well as the integration of all foreign born.” Also speaking at the roundtable is Denzil Mohammed, of the Immigrant Learning Center in Malden, who spoke at an earlier Conversation.
There is a human need to move from the abstract to the practical, says Nuncio, “that is, to make reason out of all of this. Who can bring it all together as well as share information we haven’t heard?
“We want to shift the focus from the tragic and often overwhelming international scene to the particular and the pragmatic local scene,” she says.
The Immigration Conversations support frank, safe and open discussions about immigration, especially as this human experience unfolds in Salem and surrounding communities.