Thesis

Newcomer Mexican immigrants' sense of belonging and community

There is limited information on how new Mexican immigrants living in small communities experience their new cultural contexts and the sense of belonging within their new communities. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study was to examine how first comer Mexican immigrants experience and connect to the community in which they live. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine Mexican immigrant adults who have lived in the United Sates for less than one year. The findings showed that the participants experience feelings of isolation, which then creates barriers connecting to their communities. The participants identified religion and religious practices as an important ethnic activity that helps them overcome cultural displacement. Participants also expressed the desire for social workers to understand their unique situations and to become their voices and bridges to the communities. The findings in this study suggest that more connection is needed to and within the population of Mexican immigrants. Social workers can assist in the facilitation of community organizing driven by the immigrant community members themselves with the aim of increasing awareness about the immigrant community and helping them build a community that they envision and that would give them the sense of belonging and connection that they crave. A recommendation for future research is to use participatory action research as a more anti-oppressive and transformative way of examining issues impacting minority and oppressed populations.

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