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Summary of "The Social Worlds of Immigrant Youth"

In the opening chapter of New Directions For Youth Development, we are introduced to a particular case study of a boy named Dario. Dario is an immigrant youth from Central America, trying to find himself in the United States, while struggling through all the stresses that are involved in leaving ones country and starting over in a new place. For him, separation was one of the biggest challenges in his early life. He was separated from his father by a divorce, separated by his mother when she left for the United States, and then separated eight years later, when he left his aunt and country to rejoin his mother. Yet for Dario, and his Latino background, one positive aspect of his life was the relationships he formed with his extended family that lived together in the United States. Together families could deal with the hard times better. As Dario is immersed in the American Culture, the author describes him as “holding on by a thread.? Without his desire to learn and strong support base by teachers and family, Dario’s thread would be broken. Yet although he does not process all the information accurately in school, he does not give up. Dario is influenced, like most immigrant children, by many social and psychological influences.
After relaying Dario’s story, the author goes on to talk more generally about the immigrant experience. Immigrant children come from diverse backgrounds and have experience in many different languages, religions and cultural beliefs, when they come over to America. They come from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, and parents with differing educations. Their reasons for leaving are different, whether it be new opportunities or political, ethnic, or religious problems. Like Dario, most children are forced to learn a new language and a completely new culture. They miss their friends, and family back home, and usually undergo some kind of separation while here. I was astonished by the fact that 85% of the American immigrant youth undergo separation from either both or one of their parents, for a time ranging from six months to ten years. As children can pick up on the language usually better than their parents, children are often expected to act as intermediaries for their parents in public and take on an additional role that their family is dependent on. Lastly, in order to be successful, most immigrant children need to form connections, for example with: peers, adults in schools, community leaders, and church members. They serves as tools for guidance and are able to provide the immigrant with acceptance and approval, almost necessary to function in the new world.