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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Campaign for a New American (Original 10:41, Excerpt 00:50)
Filmmaker: Qin Li
Editor: Alex Morelli; Additional Sound and Camera: Abdirahman Abdi
An Indian immigrant’s daughter campaigns to be elected as the first woman of color to the city council of a working class town that has always been a magnet for immigrants. The town, 38% new immigrant, is still being run by the offspring of last century’s immigrants. The new folks on the block will sooner or later take the reins of power and responsibility – or will they?
Qin Li
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.
Discussion Resources:
About Women in US Immigration
About Immigrants in US Politics
About the filmmaker and film:
Worlds Apart at Home (Original 9:58, Excerpt 00:58)
Filmmaker: Abdirahman Abdi
Editor: Peter Rhodes; Additional Sound: Mubarak Muwonge Nsamba
Samira Ahmed Fiin escaped with her family from Somalia as refugees to the United States in 2007. Now she negotiates tensions between parents and teenagers – as the young try to fit into and enjoy American culture and the old try to hold on to their Somali traditions.
Abdirahman Abdi
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.
Discussion Resources:

About the filmmaker and film:

About the issues brought up by the film:
About Issues of Acculturation and Assimilation:

More information about refugees and immigrants.

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

  1. How are the immigrant family relations depicted in the films similar or different than yours?
  2. 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?
  3. What stood out to you? What will you tell your friends about? 
  4. What did you relate to? What reminded you of things in your own life? 
  5. What felt unfamiliar, new or surprising?
  6. Can you think of an occasion when you changed your mind about an issue? What would change people’s minds about immigrants or immigration?
  7. 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?)