Multicultural Literacy Project

1.    History: How and why did the group become part of the United States? Have they always been here (e.g., Native Americans or Chicanos whose homeland was incorporated into the United States as a result of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo)? Were they brought to the US as slaves or indentured servants (e.g., some African Americans)? Did they immigrate by choice (e.g.,came here to study and decided to stay)? Were they refugees of a U.S.-supported war abroad (e.g., people from Vietnam or some countries in Latin America)? Are or were they refugees unrelated to U.S. wars? Did they come in various ways? What kinds of experiences did various group members experience in their home countries? Include here a brief history of how U.S. law has treated the group, including such things as permission to immigrate, citizenship, voting rights status, treaties signed and either kept or broken, and so forth. If this concept does not apply to your group, discuss the origination of the group.

2.    Values: What are the widely shared and/or widely understood values in this group? Consider what is expected of women and men, how female and male children are expected to behave, treatment of elders, religious/spiritual beliefs and practices, use of leisure time, expectations about leaving home, work and careers, sexuality, and so on. What happens to people who do not conform to shared values within the group? Consider people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual; people with disabilities; people who marry outside the group; people who fail to follow expected religious practices; women who refuse to follow prescribed female roles; and so on.

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3.    The situation of the group in the United States now. What are the major trends in the size of the group over time? What explains increases and/or decreases in their numbers? How many people are here now? What kinds of jobs do they tend to hold? What are their incomes? What kind of political power does the group seem to have? To what religions do they belong? How old or young is this population? Which generations of immigrants do they represent? To what extent had the group intermarried/mixed with other groups in the United States? What kinds of conflict do they experience among themselves (e.g., generation gaps, religious conflict, and ethnic conflict within the larger group)? What are the major issues or problems that members of this group currently face in the United States? If you were providing services to members of this population, with what kinds of issues might they need support for? How are human service agencies, educational institutions, and government agencies responding to the challenges that the group faces? How do attitudes toward the group by major institutions and the public tend to help or hinder their lives in the US? What strengths do the members of the group tend to bring to solving the problems/challenges they encounter and/or surviving in the United States?

4.     Attitudes and prejudices. What are the attitudes toward this group held by the dominant culture? What are the attitudes toward this group held by other groups? How does this group think/feel toward other groups? What kinds of power does this group have and what explains its power or disempowerment? Is this group conflict with other empowered or disempowered groups? If so, who benefits, if anyone does, from this conflict? What keeps this group form building coalitions with other groups?

Find someone who belongs to the group and prepare a set of questions you would like answered based on your reading and, if relevant, based on you community research (you might want to use questions from the Cultural Autobiography as a starting point). Ask about some of the person’s experiences growing up and living as a member of that group. Find out to what extent the person fits or does not fit the descriptions of this group that you have read about or learned about in other ways. Be sure to explain the purpose of the interview and to tell the person that you will not use his or her name or any other identifying information in the written report or class presentation.

Your paper should be 6-8 doubled-spaced typed pages, with references and an appendix. In addition to a short introduction and short conclusion, it should contain the following: (a) a summary of what you learned in the library search and on any field visits along with an analysis of how what you learned in from your research, field visits might be useful in understanding how to assist the population you have been assigned to help, and (b) findings from your interview. Briefly report who you interviewed (do not use the person real name) and how you located the person. Do demographic and other traits such as gender, age, religion, social class, ethnicity, race, education, work, length of time in the United States, family situation, relationship status, sexual orientation, or disabilities. What suggestions did the person you interviewed offer for assisting the hypothetical person you are attempting to help?