My Responsibility to My Community

Maria Lopez

American Dream Leader Spring 2016


Growing up in Central Arkansas, I never took the time to consider the meaning of immigrant integration. I lived in a region where I was surrounded by a large community of Mexicans, and it felt really welcoming. It felt like I had never left my native country of Mexico. Residents were really welcoming with new arrivals. I remember when my family arrived to the U.S for the first time, the community gave us essential supplies like kitchen materials and mattresses and couches.

As I got older, it was then when I started to see the line between immigrants and Americans. The division of races became easier to identify. Although I saw the segregation between immigrants and Americans I never saw it as an important issue until I spent six months in Georgia. During the time in Georgia I realized the importance of immigration integration. The hardship of trying to integrate into an entirely new community, not knowing any one, was one of the most challenging steps I have ever taken. I no longer felt welcomed. I was used to living in a community where we all knew each other and were willing to help one another. Coming to this new place, I felt like the odd person out, like I didn’t belong.

Therefore, this semester I have taken the challenge to try to help every immigrant feel welcome in this nation that we are a part of. Realizing the importance of immigrant integration has pushed me to strive for a better life as a resident of the United States. It is important for every person to feel welcomed and to have the essential resources needed to live where they have chosen to reside.

We, immigrants, don’t leave our native countries because we want to but most of the time because we seem obligated by the circumstances. Arriving to a new country with a different culture is hard enough, so trying to connect with the people residing there may be a bigger challenge then it seems. I feel that it is part of my duty not only as a member of the immigrant community here in Northwest Arkansas, but also as a person who has been in the shoes of those who are now migrating here to the U.S., to spread the word of the importance of immigrant integration.

Cisneros Center for New Americans


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