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Friday, June 14, 2024
Panelists discussed their personal experiences with immigration and integration at the first of week of events for WUD Global Connection’s first Women of Color week. 

Panelists discussed their personal experiences with immigration and integration at the first of week of events for WUD Global Connection’s first Women of Color week. 

Immigrant panelists discuss US culture, kick off Women of Color week

This week is the first ever Women of Color week at UW-Madison, with events organized by the Wisconsin Union Directorate that aim to educate the community and celebrate diverse experiences of women.

WUD Global Connections Director Swetha Saseedhar said she wanted to create Women of Color week because “they are one group of people that have been historically marginalized and not been able to tell their story, as history is his-story.”

To kick off the week, WUD Global Connections held a panel Monday that was comprised of three faculty members who come from immigrant families. They discussed immigration and integration—how they have learned to navigate U.S. culture, especially in the current political climate.

Associate Professor of History and Asian-American Studies Cindy I-Fen Cheng presented on “refusing to be the ‘good’ immigrant.” She focused her speech on how Americans have come to identify “good” and “bad” immigrants, and emphasized that these groups change as American conflicts evolve.

“Maybe the best way to counter these negative stereotypes is not to say all immigrants are good, or bad, that’s not the heart of it,” Cheng said. “Maybe it’s just about racism or xenophobia and the good and the bad are just the ways we have come to justify it.”

Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies Mary N. Layoun detailed personal accounts of her peers teaching her to navigate U.S. social norms. She dedicated her success as a scholar to those who have guided her throughout her life.

“How do we adapt or assimilate into American culture? The best we can and with one another,” Layoun said.

Laura P. Minero, a doctoral student studying counseling psychology, gave a talk centered around her newfound fear that she would no longer be able to protect her family if she was suddenly deported as a result of President Donald Trump’s potential new immigration policies.

She said her life has been lived “pressed against the margins,” and she has experienced all the same moments other Americans have that “make her proud to be an American, whether this country decides to recognize [her] or not.”

Minero closed the panel by affirming that the lines between an immigrant and an American are much blurrier than people make them out to be.

“We are not trying to take your jobs,” Minero said. “We have worked alongside you for years. We want the same things. We are you.”

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