Imagine if you have just moved to a different country that doesn't speak your language and you're at a new school. Dozens of children are staring at you, you're thinking ‘Who should I try talking to?’ At lunch you're hugging your lunchbox with your sweaty hands as you're sitting on the cold damp concrete. “Where are the tables to sit at?” you mumble to yourself. Then a group of girls walk past and start whispering and staring.
There is a big problem in New Zealand, many immigrants are feeling isolated. Six percent of people people we interviewed believed racial discrimination was the reason they got treated unfairly or unfavourably. The most common way people feel discriminated against is based on prejudice about their race, ethnicity or nationality. What can we do or say to make immigrants feel more included.
Prejudice is labelling something that you have no experience of, eg. That car is driving slow it must, be an Asian. This usually happens before you know that person. When Mrs K came in and did an interview she said “When I was a kid a little boy came up to me and said, do you have a bomb in your lunchbox?” just because of her race. She also said “When I was working as a waiter people would ask me where I was from, I would say I'm from Iran, then they would look down at the table and ignore me.” How does this make immigrants feel?
There are lots of different types of prejudice for eg. Sexism, racism, classism, ageism, elitism, what you look like, how tall or short you are and if you've got any physical disabilities, the effect of all of these isn't nice. Being prejudice about someone doesn't make anyone feel happy, it just makes people feel excluded.
Sometimes immigrants feel alienated or unwelcome. The most common way of insulting someone is by pointing out differences. For example if you were a different skin tone to someone else and they said you've got a different shade of skin then me, so you are different from me.
Immigrants feel most included when you try to talk to them or include them into things at school / work or on the street because then you have a connection with them. For eg one of my friends came from Switzerland and she couldn't speak English, at first when I meet her I smiled at her and then I started to talk to her. She says now that when I did that she felt so happy and welcomed. Making immigrants feel more included is not very hard all you do is smile and say hi / hello.
Overall the most common things to do to immigrants to make them feel included is by
Give a friendly smile
Finding things in common
Asking what their name is
Helping them learn words in English
It is important that we improve the way we make immigrants feel connected in the community because it will have a big impact on New Zealand's community environment in the future. Then zero percent of immigrants will feel isolated and we will have a happier community.