|Immigration: Finding Help, Giving Help
Here's something that's kind of obvious but also hard to remember sometimes: when you're having problems of any kind, the best way to get help is to ask for it. We say that a lot on IML and honestly, we can't say it enough!
Many immigrant kids, tweens, and teens often stay silent when they're having a hard time. They may feel that it's easier to stay "invisible," or be generally shy about living in a new place. They may even think that their particular immigration status means they don't have the right to ask for assistance. But here's the truth: everyone has the right to ask for -- and get -- help when they need it.
Maybe you're not an immigrant, but you know someone in your school or community who is and seems like he or she could use a helping hand. The way to do that can be as simple as reaching out, offering your friendship, and getting familiar with the facts and challenges facing young immigrants today.
Talk to a teacher
Are you falling behind in school or getting poor grades? Are you having difficulty with a new language, or unfamiliar school customs and procedures? Don't wait until the problem gets too big! Speak up and talk to your teacher as soon as you think there's a problem. Ask about after-school programs or any other extra attention you can get. Your teachers want you to do well and to thrive, and they want to know if you're having difficulties.
See a guidance counselor or other school official
These people are there to help students and will listen to anyone having trouble fitting in, coping with schoolwork, or dealing with problems at home. They may know of special local or state programs to assist immigrant families.
Talk to a lawyer
You don't have to be an adult to talk to a lawyer, and you don't even need any money. In almost all communities, there are lawyers and legal aides who will listen to young people and work "pro-bono" (for free) to help in difficult legal situations. If you think your problems may be legal (anything having to do with the law), ask a parent, teacher, counselor or someone you know and trust to get you in touch with a local child advocacy lawyer. Or call The National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), toll-free at: 1-888-828-6222.
Be better than bullying
Recent immigrants often face more than their share of bullying and abuse. This is because bullies can easily single them out as being "different," and bullies might also suspect that new immigrants will be less likely to stand up for themselves. If you or someone you know is being bullied, you can find info and help over at IML's topic on Bullies and the Getting Picked On page of our Advice section.
And here's the best advice we can give you: Don't be afraid! When you need a little extra help in a new situation, fear can only make things harder. Stand up for your rights and the rights of your family. Find people who believe in you and can help you. Moving to a new country is often difficult, but most countries are filled with individuals and organizations that can help make it easier.
Here are some more places where you and your parents or guardians can find help and information:
Welcome to the USA
A U.S. Government website created to help new immigrants celebrate citizenship and learn about America.
National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children
This organization focuses on children who come to the United States alone, without family members or resources to help them.
This website delivers information about current U.S. foreign policy and American life and culture.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
A non-profit organization committed to providing fair, competent, and compassionate legal counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children in the U.S.
Next, read some stories and advice From the Mentors.
Copyright © 2005 CastleWorks, Inc. All rights reserved.