Immigrants are an integral part of the United States

Many people dream of coming to the U.S. in hopes of a better life. Some come fleeing persecution in their home countries. Others come to be reunited with their families. Some come for better job opportunities. According to the American Immigration Council, one in seven U.S. residents is an immigrant. One in eight residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

Immigrants, who changed residence through voluntary or forced migration, are an integral part of the U.S.

Jenny Tsai

Associate Professor Jenny Hsin-Chun Tsai came to the U.S. as a graduate student and worked with Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC), an organization that supports immigrants and their families by creating opportunities for them to succeed while honoring their heritage.

Tsai started as a volunteer in CISC’s after-school youth program in 1995. The experience gave her an opportunity to learn about the lives of new immigrant families. The interactions with youth, staff, and sometimes parents or grandparents helped shape her dissertation.  The relationship evolved and became the foundation of Tsai’s academic-community partnership with CISC till this day.

She established the clinical agreement with CISC in 2005. Since then, it has been a clinical site for the school’s Community Health Nursing Master’s students and DNP in Population Health & Systems Leadership students. Although she doesn’t supervise the DNP students placed with CISC now, Tsai helps the course faculty or track lead problem-solve as needed.

Most recently, Tsai has been asked to assist support new Chinese-speaking immigrant families’ adaptation through workshops. She reviews program evaluation data and structure and prepares for their upcoming funding renewal.

In addition to her work with CISC, Tsai volunteers with Cambodian Cultural Alliance of Washington.

“I use my knowledge and skills to help them organize their cultural events and programs to bring their community together and share Khmer culture within and outside of the local Cambodian community,” said Tsai. She helps with their budget and craft proposals for funding or donation to strategically grow their capacity and is also involved in implementation of their events or programs.

“While I am volunteering for them, I am also learning and growing from my interactions with the members of the group and members of the Cambodian community who participate in or support our events and programs,” said Tsai.

Working with these two distinct organizations Tsai noticed the disparities and differences of experiences for immigrants.

“People who come here to immigrate through a family-based petition have a choice where to go, if they have family already established here and money in their pockets. Plus, they have the time to decide when to migrate. People who are forced to come here due to wars in their country do not have the same experiences,” said Tsai.

Tsai’s work with these communities give her insight into not only the organizations that provide support to immigrants, but also the challenges and difference of various immigrant groups. Her work and dedication are vital to the immigrants who need help adjusting and learning a new country.

-Kristine Wright