Operacion Pedro Pan December 2006 J Sheldon

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Operacion Pedro Pan December 2006 J Sheldon

  1. 1. Operación Pedro Pan: A Profile of One Young Immigrant’s Journey and Acculturation Jeffrey Sheldon, M. A., Ed. M. School of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences Claremont Graduate University The Claremont Colleges December 2006 1
  2. 2. Background• Interviewee: Evélio Leon.• Immigration Pathway: Unaccompanied minor, Operación Pedro Pan.• Age at Immigration: Nine.• Status: “Anticipatory” refugee.• Leverage: Push, less so, pull.• Receiving Culture: Favorable.• Arrived: Tampa, Florida - March 1962.• Resettled: Indianapolis, Indiana - June, 1962.• Reunited with Mother: Summer, 1966.• Resettled: Los Angeles, California – Summer, 1966.• Formal Education: Private, Catholic - Primary, Elementary, Secondary, and Post-Secondary. 2
  3. 3. Rationale• Operación Pedro Pan not widely known or written about.• Access to first-hand participant perspective.• Refugees v. “ordinary” immigrants: – Mental health risks for children age six to 11 from uprooting and transition; boys more vulnerable given less facility in articulation of problems. – Complementary relationship between personal bereavement and cultural bereavement.• A case study of not succumbing to mental health risks to exemplify the characteristics associated with healthy adjustment: resilience; positive self- identity and esteem; a dual frame of reference; invulnerability/resilience; optimism; and biculturalism.• An immigrant youth with high academic achievement & engagement. 3
  4. 4. Operación Pedro Pan• Mass exodus of 14,000 + unaccompanied children out of Castro-led Cuba.• Children from the middle and upper classes, did not suffer privations.• Coordinated by the United States government, Catholic Charities, and Cuban dissidents.• From December 1960 until after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crises in 1962.• Part of a larger exodus of over 750,000 Cubans between 1960 and 1976.• Transported children of parents who opposed the Communist government and later who were concerned by rumors that their children would be shipped to Soviet work camps. 4
  5. 5. Refugee Defined• “A person who owing to a well rounded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of that country. For social scientists, the significant fact about refugees is that they break ties with their home state and seek protection from a host state through migration.” (Hein, 1993). 5
  6. 6. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationThe Framework• Initial entry into America through a familiar culture.• Resettlement middle class to middle class. – Similar value systems. – Tacit understanding of communism as the reason for immigration. – The warm embrace of a loving family.• Academic success built self-confidence.• Faith in eventual reunification with mother. 6
  7. 7. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationResilience through Visualization• “You learn in your mind to picture the end result and see how it would be; you visualize the end, which to me was being reunited with my mom, being happy, and having a brand new life. So you always picture that, you have a picture in your mind of what it was going to be like and that virtually was the picture of you meeting your mom sometime in an unknown place and you’re happy so that visualization is what got me through.” 7
  8. 8. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationSituational Awareness• “I was in a Catholic home, I was in a good home, I was with people who cared about me, I was with people who treated me like one of their sons so for me it was just learn the language, get along in school, and wait until my mom came.” 8
  9. 9. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationFocus• “The whole idea of my mom coming over that was something I had no control over. That’s where you learn just to focus everything out and to do what you have to do until night time comes and then you can unwind and let it go.” 9
  10. 10. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationThe Role of Education• “…education was always the thread, that’s why I say education, I think, was the thread that kept me going, the mini-successes.” 10
  11. 11. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationMaking Friends & Getting Along• “Slowly you make friendships because you’re a kid and you have things in common. How did I do it, I don’t know to be honest with you, I don’t know. It was just a skill, I don’t think it’s an inborn skill, I think it’s a survival skill. You just have to learn how to get along with people, you get along with people, and if you don’t understand you watch the hand signals, and you watch people, and if they get in line you get in line, and if they motion you to come over, you go.” 11
  12. 12. Transition, Adaptation, & AcculturationSelf-Identity & Dual Frame of Reference (Sort of…)• “I think it was probably a couple of years when I was able to begin to communicate in English, but I always thought of myself as a Cuban boy, I always maintained that self-identity that I was Cuban and I was in the U. S, but I was still a Cuban. I would think of my being Cuban was what I lived with and it was always missed. I was just fortunate enough to be in the United States and not having to be in Cuba.” 12
  13. 13. ReunificationReunification: Mixed Emotions• “…the expectations, what you’ve been waiting for four, five years almost, are now weighed against leaving. You don’t know where you’re going, but the expectation of being united with your mom all over again far outweighs that, and that’s what’s gotten you through, that picture of that reunion, those two people being together is what drove you to go through everything and one day that would happen and so of course it happened it had to happen.”• “It was separation all over again because you’re getting used to a situation, you’ve basically been there for five years. It was difficult to leave they were my family, my brothers and sisters. You go through things, you’re part of the family, you did everything as a family, you were part of that family so you were treated as a family, you lived as a family so all those events bond you as a family.” 13
  14. 14. ReunificationReunification: A Significant Change in SES• “I was such a happy kid that I was willing to give up, and you have to understand that I had a home, I shared my room with my foster brother I had a bunk bed and I’m coming to Los Angeles to live in a one bedroom apartment at 3421 Bellevue Avenue with four people close to downtown L. A. Socially and living standard-wise I went to the bottom, we were on welfare, we had food stamps. I didn’t understand what it was. To me you went to the store and you paid with little three by five things, there was no money paid, but I didn’t understand that. That whole part of being on welfare is only a little bit of my life. So socially wise it was a drop, but emotionally wise to be reunited with your mother and be able to be with her far outweighed everything else.” 14
  15. 15. Portes (1999) Explains Achievement &Adaptation to School• Academic achievement points to the role of specific psychocultural factors as manifested by the characteristics of students, their communities, as well as a variety of historically determined contextual variables.• Many aspects including parent and student beliefs, attitudes, goals, and routines along with family and societal factors seem to interact in determining the compatibility between a student’s native culture and that of the dominant culture with respect to adaptation to school. 15
  16. 16. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolHigh Parental Expectations• “My mom was a very, very driven person. She had high expectations of me. I remember my mom would sit with me and go over the times tables until I knew them backwards and forwards. She would sit with me and we’d go over, and over, and over until I could just recite them at the snap of a finger. She was very involved in my education, very involved. I was educated by the Marists and had very good grades. I was always in the top two of my class; it was just expected to happen.” 16
  17. 17. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolHigh Expectations from Other Adults• “…you understand it was a German family, they had very high expectations so if you were not getting B plusses or A’s you know you were in trouble. For example, I tried out for the football team and I remember that my grades dropped because I was going to practice so I wasn’t allowed to play football anymore. That’s it your grades are your priority, school was priority.” 17
  18. 18. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolHigh Self-Expectations• “I always expected to do well and I always had a good relationship with teachers, I always got along well, I was always very headstrong, but I always got along well because I guess I took that driven part of my mom that was part of me so I was always driven. I was always a very competitive young boy. I think if she didn’t have that and if I didn’t have that I think it would have been a totally different situation in my life because it makes you do things you don’t think you’re capable of, but it’s just in your mind.” 18
  19. 19. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolCaring Parent Figures & Mentors• “I think that you have to have at least one parent figure, one, it may not be a mother or father, it could be an uncle or an aunt, somebody who becomes a father or mother figure that you become attached to, bonded to and that plays a great importance in your life. My teachers at school and the mother and father in Indiana were those figures for me and I embraced them because I embraced the safety, the well-being, the being comforted you know and being wanted. Everybody wants to be wanted and to be accepted and once you have that those are your basic needs that are met. You’ve got food, shelter, you’ve got home, you’ve got caring people around you so life is bearable which sets you up for academic success.” 19
  20. 20. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolLearning English with Others “Learning” English• “They put me in a first grade class and it was taught by nuns, Catholic nuns, and that’s how I learned English, they would teach me as they would teach a first grader. When you talk about bilingual education it didn’t exist so it was me being in a first grade classroom. I was a student and I could pick up what I could pick up and that’s how it went. It was total, 150 percent sink or swim immersion. So you learn the alphabet in the first grade, you learn at nine years old what a six year old knows.” 20
  21. 21. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolBuilding Success From an Accumulation of Mini-Successes• “It was maybe after a year or two that you feel comfortable, that you make friends, that you begin to understand what people are saying and you begin to have mini-successes and that’s where I learned about building things up in mini-successes. I would be successful at this, I would be successful at that. It builds your self-esteem and you’re no longer out in the middle of nowhere, now you’re accomplishing something.” 21
  22. 22. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolMaking Progress• “I got accelerated through. When they saw that my English was getting better and better they just kept moving me up. You feel good because you’re doing something and now you can speak the language. But, it took a certain amount of time out of my life because I had to play catch-up. But, I caught up, so I did catch up.” 22
  23. 23. Evélio Explains Achievement &Adaptation to SchoolMaking the Grade• “Bs, B plusses, I wasn’t outstanding.” Elaborating Evélio said “I think it was the whole change and maybe, I don’t know if it was more difficult I don’t necessarily think so, but I had good grades, it wasn’t excellent, I wasn’t straight A’s but I think a lot of it had to do with my mental being so that I was always thinking about maybe something else and that effects you.” 23
  24. 24. Implications• Making sure immigrant youth have interested mentors or other significant adults. – Applied research on and evaluation of mentoring relationships and how they correlate with academic achievement.• Motivating adults (e. g., teachers, parents, significant adult) to have high expectations, with built-in accountability, for immigrant youth. – Applied research on how parents and significant adult others can be motivated to have high expectations of immigrant youth.• Reduce social isolation and ensure that immigrant youth have friends from successful immigrant and dominant groups.• Use the determinants of healthy adjustment to develop comprehensive “acculturation packages” for immigrant youth.• Build immigrant youth confidence by creating authentic situations in which they can be successful. 24
  25. 25. References• Bhabha J. (2004). Seeking asylum alone: Treatment of separated and trafficked children in need of refugee protection. International Migration, 42(1), 141-148.• Bender, L. D. (1973). The Cuban exiles: An analytical sketch. Journal of Latin American Studies, 5(2), 271-278.• Eisenbruch, M. (1988). The mental health of refugee children and their cultural development. International Migration Review, 22(2), 282 – 300.• Grambs, J. D. (1981). Immigrants and refugees: Or ethnicity ain’t what it used to be. Theory into Practice, 20(3), 158 – 163. 25
  26. 26. References• Hein, J. (1993). Refugees, immigrants and the state. Annual Review of Sociology, 19, 43 – 59.• Huyck, E. E., and Fields, R. (1981). Impact of resettlement on refugee children. International Migration Review, 15(1/2), 246 – 254.• Lee, E. S. (1966). A theory of migration. Demography 3(1), 47 - 57.• Kunz, E. F. (1973). The refugee in flight: Kinetic models and forms of displacement. International Migration Review, 7(2), 125-146. 26
  27. 27. References• Orellana, M. F., Thorne, B., Chee, A., Shun, w., and Lam, E. (2001). Transnational childhoods: The participation of children in processes of family migration. Social Problems, 48(4), 572 – 591.• Pedraza-Bailey, S. (1985). Cubas exiles: Portrait of a refugee migration. International Migration Review, 19(1), 4-34.• Pedraza, S. (1996). Cuba’s refugees: Manifold migration. In S. Pedraza (Ed.) and R. G. Rumbaut. Origins and Destinies: Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in America, 311 – 329. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.• Portes, P. R. (1999). Social and psychological factors in the academic achievement of children of immigrants: A cultural history puzzle. American Educational Research Journal, 36(3), 489 – 507. 27
  28. 28. References• Rumbaut, R. G. (1994). The Crucible within: Ethnic identity, self-esteem, and segmented assimilation among children of immigrants. International Migration Review, 28(4), 748-794.• Stein, N. (1981). The refugee experience: Defining the parameters of a field of study. International Migration Review 15(1/2), 320-330.• Thomas, J. F. (1967). Cuban refugees in the United States. International Migration Review, 1(2), 46 - 57.• Triay, V. A. (1998). Fleeing Castro: Operation Pedro Pan and the Cuban Childrens Program. Gainesville, Fl: University Press of Florida.• Walsh, B. O. (1971). Cuban refugee children. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 13(3/4), 378-415. 28

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