Psychotherapist’s View: Hispanics as a Melting Pot for Two Cultures
Posted: Apr 21 2014
I am a mental health clinician and a former refugee from Nicaragua -- raised in two cultures or shall I say "two worlds"…"this one” and “that one" or “The Latina” and “The Americana".
Upon arrival in the U.S. from Nicaragua - I experienced firsthand the difficulty of acculturation and assimilation into a new culture. As latino immigrants we are often faced with the fact that we are a product of two different cultures.
We have had to or chosen to leave our native lands in hope of a better future and establish a new culture with and for our families in a new and different world. Oftentimes we’ve been faced with language challenges, economic hardship, and hope for a better life.
The Challenges - Barriers
Language was a barrier keeping the foreign apart from the new. As Hispanos or Latinos we have had to survive and adjust to a new world with a foreign language with different culture, norms and way of life. I can personally identify with the emotional struggles Latino immigrants have endured. These struggles that at one point in our lives may have brought depression, financial hardship, anxiety, and exacerbated mental health issues as we adjusted to our new lives.
It is very important to acknowledge and pay respect to the efforts and journey every Latino immigrant has made. If you are a Latino immigrant feelings out of place, lost, sad, depressed, and like you just don't fit it, these feelings I have found both from personal experience and my clinical work – are completely normal.
The Adjustment & Joining the U.S. Community
There is a period of adjustment that depends on several factors. Your desire to become part of the dominant culture versus isolate yourself from those different than you will play a major role. In many cases - we learn the English language in order to make living and become part of the workforce. It is very important for those new immigrants to establish a sense of community as soon as possible. Some helpful things are to attend church, live near family or a supportive network of friends. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings, don't be afraid to go out and enjoy yourself, after all you are an important part of your community.
Remember you are living in a world created by immigrants – the U.S. - and there are people from many different countries around you feeling the same way you are, you are not alone. Latinos have played a major role and history and you too are a part of this. Learn to develop and recreate a new culture for yourself take pride in being a bi-cultural Latina/o. You don't have to be from neither here nor there but simply just be!
Ana Champagne is an Aurora, Colorado based psychotherapist who practices psychotherapy at Insightful Solutions Counseling. For more information on Ana Champagne and her psychotherapy work visit:https://www.facebook.com/ana.champagne.35
Image courtesy Hey Paul Studios