Fellow's Corner: Reflecting on Migration

Emily Hackerson

American Dream Fellow 2015 - 2016


The importance of the work we’re doing here in Northwest Arkansas is uncomfortably reiterated this month as we watch communities across continents grapple with the continuing refugee crisis in Syria and the swirl of questions and fears trailing the Paris terrorist attacks. I’m reminded of a simple truth: migration has never been an easy task, nor is its historical narrative one of unequivocal triumph. Migration is hard and it tests everyone – those who leave, those who stay, and those who find change arriving at their doorstep.

What I’m most proud of is the sense of agency the Cisneros Center lends me as I navigate the pushbacks and pin-pricks of a world that hasn’t quite figured out the formula for migration. Every generation learns and relearns what it means to be in need, and what it means to be welcoming and unafraid of difference. My work with the Center lets me play a central role in “writing the next chapter of the American story” as one my generation can be proud of. It’s small, step-by-step work whose value always feels immense. As an American Dream Fellow, my job is directly connected to issues I care deeply about at a personal level, and it feels good to know part of my job description is communicating the value of what I try to surround myself with daily.

This month was also my birthday, which always opens a space for reflection wherever I am. This year, I spent the day in the company of the inspiring diversity Northwest Arkansas has to offer, from performing with my African dance group to being serenaded in Croatian, Spanish and French over homemade Spanish tortilla. It was one of the most fulfilling birthdays I’ve had, and it’s because Arkansas has welcomed me in the same way we’re working to welcome those that come next.

Cisneros Center for New Americans


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