As I reflect to the time when I was an orphan at a small village in Siberia, Russia, and then experiencing my migration journey into USA; there were very little resources for me to combat the roadblocks ahead. When I was adopted over two decades ago, roadblocks would continuously cling onto me and prevent me from entering the workforce.
The roadblocks began to stack on top of one another from my beginning struggle in learning how to speak the English language. I would have to venture through many alternative solutions in finding someone who understands my ‘specific’ language barrier. For example, for years I endured a lot of bullying, because of my inability to enunciate words containing the letter ‘r.’ Of course, there existed many choices to overcome language barriers, but my struggle related towards accessing the right resource for me to overcome my ‘specific’ language barrier. And so, finding the right resource entailed a great journey of trial and error including attending special education classes through grade school.
Those classes did not seek in aiding me towards overcoming my ‘specific’ language barrier, but merely providing a labelled environment for me to be contained. I was considered as ‘no matter, no mind’ where being an immigrant meant there cannot possibly be a realistic chance to achieve opportunity.
Fortunately, my natural stubbornness (maybe it’s in my Russian DNA) and unrelenting efforts led me to a surprising and yet, delightful sight. I paused after I blinked my eyes and there suddenly: no more walls or ceiling of containment. I graduated from special education classes into the ‘normal curriculum.’ Alas, I could walk forward and know that now I have capability to achieve great opportunity within USA as an immigrant.
However, I was still stranded within the vast land of resources in finding the right resource for my ‘specific’ language barrier. I decided to think outside the box: conduct my own research for resources catering towards my ‘specific’ language barrier. And so, I traveled into Manhattan, NY to an institution for vocalization and speech trainings and after 10 expensive workshops, I was able to correctly enunciate words containing the letter ‘r.’ This hindsight of my journey and experiences in encountering the roadblocks as an immigrant illustrates a mere glimpse to the roadblocks that all immigrants endure in one way or another.
My personal roadblock as an immigrant demonstrates just one barrier many immigrants experience that prevent growth and achievements from happening. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a plethora of new roadblocks and only make the clinging burdens of immigrants heavier. It is important to utilize this time and virtual space to engage with immigrants who feel frustrated and isolated from successfully accessing the right resources. Time waits for no one: create an inviting space and learning about the specific needs of immigrants such as access to the right resources. Take action now in helping immigrants by uniting with them towards a shared effort to overcome their specific barriers that prevent growth and achievement from happening. True unity creates a diverse and inclusive path where everyone can feel empowered and enabled to achieve growth and opportunity!
This blog was written by Sasha Yudin, a Welcoming Center Project Assistant intern and student at Peirce College, majoring in Liberal Studies with a Concentration in Leadership.
Employers, we invite you to become a partner on an immigrant’s journey. Below are ways you can do so with the Welcoming Center:
1) Join the conversation. Read more about the Engaging Immigrant Talent initiative in a recent blog by clicking here.
2) Hire diverse talent. Inclusive economic recovery starts with a diverse workforce. The Welcoming Center’s International Professionals Program (IPP) has many immigrant job seekers. You could also become fellowship worksite.
To learn more about employer partnerships, please contact Rochelle T. Cooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.825.7767.