Forum to Explore “Growing Up in Two Cultures” ~11/17/2011 ~ 12p-2p

What is it like to grow up in two cultures in the Berkshires? Immigrants from four families will share their insights with service providers, educators, and community members on Thursday, November 17 from noon to 2 at the First Baptist Church, 88 South Street in Pittsfield.Forum to Explore “Growing Up in Two Cultures”

November 17, 2011 from 12 – 2
Sponsored by the Cross Cultural Action Network (CCAN), the forum is open to the public with opportunities for networking among more than 40 agencies that provide services to multicultural populations throughout the county. Light refreshments will be provided.

Among the panelists is Youlin Shi who first came to the U.S. on a student visa with her husband. When she realized she was pregnant, she made the decision to stay in this country so her daughter could enjoy the freedoms that she did not have growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution. “I wanted to stay in this country so I opened my mind to what was the best way to raise a child in this country. I wanted my daughter to be a part of this culture. I wanted her to have the best of both cultures.”

While Youlin represents a parental view, two children of immigrant parents will share what it was like to grow up in two worlds. Pamela Melendez, who recently became an American citizen, was born in Ecuador and came to the United States when she was 16 years old with her family. She works as an Administrative Assistant in the BRIDGE program. Maya Bahl was born in the United States of immigrant parents from India. She is presently a student at Berkshire Community College.

For younger immigrants, growing up in two cultures can often have an impact at school. To help other educators and agencies understand the challenges in a school setting, Claudia Ooley, who immigrated from Northern Ireland 7 years ago, will share her experience as an ESL teacher and ELE Coordinator for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District.

All of us as parents and daughters and sons will learn from hearing these stories about the challenges facing parents and children in immigrant families. What is most amazing is the universality of many of the issues. We can identify with parents, who want the best for their children and with children who want to develop their own identity. Attendees will be encouraged to join in this interesting discussion .

Attendees are asked to enter the church through the side entrance near the Pittsfield Cooperative Bank. Allow time for traffic and parking as construction continues on South Street. Parking is available on South Street, at the Colonial Theater and south of Housatonic Street.

CCAN is an informal network of cross cultural individuals and organization that support immigrants and other minority groups in the Berkshires. The group is committed to making the Berkshires a welcoming community through events, advocacy and education. Sponsoring this month’s forum are the Adult Learning Center in Pittsfield, Berkshire Adult Literacy Committee, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Literacy Network of South Berkshire, and South Berkshire Educational Collaborative.

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