Wednesday, April 18, 2018

URSP Student Rimsha Rana Collects the Narratives of Dreamers

Immigration has always been a fascinating topic to me. During my freshman year in college I was a trainer for Undocually Training's at Mason through the student organization, Mason Dreamers. The purpose of these training's was to educate the public about the current immigration system in the US and how attendees can become allies to Dreamers. My favorite part of the training's was when brave Dreamers would come up and share their inspiring stories. In addition to my extra-curriculars, I also wrote my Honors 110 research paper on the need for contemporary immigration reform in the US. I learned a lot about the quantitative aspect about immigration and undocumented immigrants such as average age of arrival, number of undocumented immigrants, etc. However, during my research I noticed that very little qualitative scholarly literature about Dreamers existed. The human side to the immigration debate interested me the most.

On September 5, 2017, DACA had been rescinded by President Donald Trump and the anxiety within the Dreamer community increased. I decided I wanted to broaden the lens the public has on Dreamers and highlight the diversity in experience through an OSCAR research project. I interviewed Dreamers from many countries including Mexico, Pakistan, Chile, Korea, and even Mongolia. Many came to the US on a visa, a few crossed the US-Mexican border, and one Dreamer even crossed the Canadian border! Despite all the hardships they have faced in their quest to a higher education due to inability to get financial aid, lack of scholarships, and status issues; this cohort is extremely resilient. On a weekly basis I interview students, type up narratives, and read through scholarly literature to add information to the paper.

The most important thing I learned in my undergraduate scholarly experience is that each and everyone of us have some privileges. Privilege isn’t something that should be hidden or ignored, it should be something each one of us acknowledges within ourselves and we must use our privilege to help empower others. I am very thankful that I have the privilege to attend college and participate in scholarly research, and I wanted to use this privilege to help empower Dreamers. That’s why I embarked on doing a research project to collect the narratives of Dreamers. I hope that through my project I can expand the lens that the public has on the cohort and help galvanize change in the United States immigration system. This experience has been very beneficial to me as an undergraduate student and has given me ample experience in research, working with the under-served, and empathizing with others. This experience was very valuable to me and will greatly help me in graduate school. My next steps for my project is to finalize the paper and get it published as a book in the near future.