Cynthia Hartman Forum 5
The immigration issue has been at the forefront of controversy throughout history. Past attempts to resolve the issue were based on general problems and had sweeping affects by focusing on curtailing immigration through closing the borders and systems to stop illegal immigration. Is the US not a country that wants to be known as a place that one can come to fulfill their dreams or to escape from persecution? If this is the case, society needs to address the issues of immigration and the adaptability of immigrants into our society with dignity and respect while giving them the opportunities to become an active and self-sufficient member of our society.
As a community psychologist working in a community based counseling center would be a perfect opportunity to form a participatory action research project addressing an immigration issue within the community. The PAR methodology is based on a systematic process of 1) diagnose a situation, 2) act to improve, 3) measure and evaluate their effectiveness, 4) reflect upon the results and plan the next steps through continued action or adapting the action to be more effective. This approach has proven to be effective in creating personal transformations and finding solutions.
The first step in developing a participatory action research project is to recruit people that are stakeholders in the issue. Stakeholders can consist of family, friends, community leaders, members of the community that are immigrants and natives, networks, business owners, religious leaders, and government officials that have a desire to work together collectively and collaboratively to solve an agreed upon issue. The next step is to brainstorm with everyone to come up with a list of issues. Everyone needs to feel that their contribution is important so that as many issues as possible can be discussed. It is very important not to have an issue that is too generalized or large so that it is difficult to implement a valid plan of action. After identifying the problem, research may need to be conducted to isolate the causes of the problem prior to a plan of action decided upon and implemented. If the issue is employment for the immigrant then the reasons for unemployment must be isolated. Reasons may include language, citizenship, or skills. The group should agree on the best approach to one or more of these reasons and then the plan can be implemented. If it is agreed that language is the major reason for unemployment then more opportunities to learn English could be created and a recruitment effort designed to inform the immigrants in need to participate. After a set time, the consequences of the action (language education) would need to be measured and evaluated for effectiveness. This could be done by compiling data on the percentage of immigrants that participated, their success in learning English, and was employment obtained. Depending upon the results, reflection occurs and the action may have to be modified or if successful, ways to continue the action must be created. If this aspect does not see results then another of the reasons for unemployment may have to be addressed and then a new cycle begins. PAR is cyclic due to retaining flexibility and commitment to modify or redirect the focus to be effective in solving the problem.