NIRV Topic: Immigrant Women and Families
Immigrant women play a dominant role in the health and betterment of families and communities as demonstrated by these stories about women politicians and community activists negotiating the way forward between new and old cultures and generations.
Here are two films from the New Immigrant and Refugee Visions (NIRV) collection – films by and about immigrants – that tell the stories of immigrant women and families. Before you watch them, please review the “Questions-to-consider…” on this page below the films.
- Campaign for a New American, by women studies scholar, activist and mother Qin Li, from China, 10 min – about a first-generation Indian daughter campaigning for city council in a racially charged environment;
- Worlds Apart at Home, by Abdirahman Abdi, 10 min – about a Somali mother and activist working to maintain religious and cultural traditions while accommodating her teenage daughter’s desire to play basketball.
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Editor: Alex Morelli; Additional Sound and Camera: Abdirahman Abdi
Emigrated from China in 2015, lives in Revere, MA
Qin is a scholar-activist focused on women’s empowerment. She began her research on women in rural China. Now she works with women and immigrants from all over the world as a volunteer at Women Encouraging Empowerment in Revere.
About Women in US Immigration
- Migration Policy Institute, “Immigrant Women and Girls in the United States,” by Jeanne Batalova, March 4, 2020
- National Women’s History Museum, “New Beginnings: Immigrant Women and The American Experience,” 2015
- Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, “Gender Bias and Immigration Policy“
About Immigrants in US Politics
- PRI-The World, Immigrants have a long history of taking their issues to the people — as political candidates, by Ibrahim Hirsi, November 1, 2018
- Pew Research Center, Immigrants in US Congress, by A.W. Geiger, January 24, 2019
About the filmmaker and film:
- Next City, “Through Documentary, Bostonians Share Their Immigrant Experience,” by Emily Nonko, Philadelphia, PA – May 14, 2019
Editor: Peter Rhodes; Additional Sound: Mubarak Muwonge Nsamba
Emigrated from Somalia in 2007, lives in Roxbury, MA
Abdi came to America as a young boy and has remained active in his local and Somali community. He has volunteered his time and multi-media production skills to advance the work of the Somali Development Center and the North American Somali Students Union. Abdi graduated in May 2018 from UMass Boston with a degree in media communications and sociology. With continued mentoring from CSFilm, he has continued since the NIRV training to produce short documentaries on economic and social issues in his Roxbury neighborhood. Abdi was hired in 2020 as a freelance videographer and editor by Boston news station, WCVB-TV, Ch 5.
About the filmmaker and film:
- WBUR, The ARTery, “To Bridge Language Barrier Between Immigrant Generations, This Somali-American Is Making A Film,” by Maria Garcia, Boston, MA – November 21, 2017
About the issues brought up by the film:
- Emmanuel College, “I’ve Been Told My Whole Life What Muslims Girls CAN’T DO,” by Jamad Finn, Boston, MA – January 13, 2019
- Washington Post, “Boston mosque aims to keep young Somali immigrants off the streets,” by Omar Sacirbey – July 12, 2012
- The New Humanitarian, “Somalia’s climate change refugees: Forced off their land by drought, rural families face a precarious existence in Mogadishu” – February 21, 2018
- Al Jazeera-World, “Somalia: The Forgotten Story,” by Hamza Ashrif – November 2, 2016
- ESRI, “A Story Map: Somalia’s Refugee Crisis,”
About Issues of Acculturation and Assimilation:
- Cato Institute, “Assimilation and Integration of US Immigrants and Their Descendants,” by Alex Nowrasteh and Andrew C. Forrester, February 4, 2019
- The Atlantic Monthly, “Should Immigration Require Assimilation?” by Tom Gjelten, October 3, 2015
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Acculturation, Development and Adaptation of Youth and Young Adults” by Rothe, Tzuang and Pumariega, 2010
Want to See More?
Another one of the NIRV films tells immigrant women’s stories and three more are made by immigrant women:
About immigrant women:
- She’s an American Child, by Rafael DeLeon – about the psychological and logistical challenges facing an undocumented Dominican mother and her DACA designated daughter;
By immigrant women:
- Borrowing Fire, by Kebrewosen Densamo, who has a special understanding of the challenges for youth in migration, having come to the United States as a young girl. Her film is about a fellow Ethiopian immigrant who helps his community as a preacher and businessman.
- Rhythms of Respect, by Katsyris Rivera-Kientz, a female scholar and activist focused on issues of her native Puerto Rico’s cultural identity and political and economic relationship with the United States. Her film is charged with the vibrant dance and music of fellow Puerto Rican cultural activist and educator, Jorge Arce.
Questions to Consider While Watching These Films
- How are the immigrant family relations depicted in the films similar or different than yours?
- Do you speak one or more languages at home? Or, are multiple languages spoken in your community? How does a mono-lingual, mono-cultural or multi-lingual, multi-cultural environment impact you as an immigrant or as someone born in the US?
- What stood out to you? What will you tell your friends about?
- What did you relate to? What reminded you of things in your own life?
- What felt unfamiliar, new or surprising?
- Can you think of an occasion when you changed your mind about an issue? What would change people’s minds about immigrants or immigration?
- What do you want to change in your community after “meeting” these immigrants and learning about their experiences? (e.g., Individual behaviors? Public policies? Local media perspectives of your immigrant neighbors?)