The University of Iowa

In the news: American society benefits when immigrants become involved in their communities

October 5th, 2018

By Mazahir Salih, Guest Opinion, The Press-Citizen

When I arrived in the United States, I faced many barriers. Everything was so new and different. I struggled with my English and the culture was very different from my own.

Becoming a part of American society does not come easy. Immigrants isolate themselves because there are language barriers, culture barriers, and they are just scared. You have to work hard to become a part of this society. You need to go out and learn the language, the system, and your rights. At first, you will face many cultural barriers and it can be very hard to navigate.

I did not have any interactions with Americans outside of work until after I had been living in this country for five years. This was when my children started going to school and I worked up the courage to become involved. I attended a parent leadership institute which teaches parents to become leaders in the community and learn about how the city and government work. This is the first time I learned about American society. I learned that I have rights and responsibilities. I started volunteering and contributing. I began helping people. I began to feel like I was making a difference and finally felt like I was a part of American society. To feel a part of this society makes you more confident. You want to do more and you are not scared of anything.