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Kids World International helps immigrant youths navigate new cultures

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Kids' World International helps immigrant youths navigate new cultures

Imagine yourself as a teen or young adult who all of the sudden has to leave the only place that you know to be home. Let's just say you lived in Miami and you were told that you were moving to Alaska. That would be a big change for anyone. But what if you were eleven, fourteen or seventeen years old and you weren't coming from Miami, but instead you were leaving Kenya to come to America. Bri Chomilo, mother and Princess Chomilo Kisob

Imagine yourself as a teen or young adult who all of the sudden has to leave the only place that you know to be home. Let's just say you lived in Miami and you were told that you were moving to Alaska. That would be a big change for anyone. But what if you were eleven, fourteen or seventeen years old and you weren't coming from Miami, but instead you were leaving Kenya to come to America.

This is happening to a lot of young people as their families come to the United States in search of better opportunities. For some the journey is dangerous, whether due to political instability in their country or instability in their method of travel. When young people immigrate to this country -- whether they are coming from Mexico, Laos, Nigeria or the Middle East -- most of them face the same or at least a very similar situation: how to make the transition to a new life.

While the young person's transition is difficult, the transition for the parents can be even harder, because the adults are more firmly rooted in their native culture. This can be a source of tension between the parents and the young person who is trying to adapt. Children can be brutally honest and even cruel, causing some immigrant youth to take on some of the more negative aspects of American society and culture in order to fit in.

An example of this occurred when I ran into a young man in South Minneapolis. The young man appeared to be from East Africa, perhaps Somalia. He said to me "What's up my n****," then tells me he has some weed and asks if I want to buy some. I was surprised at first, but then I could see that he wasn't sure of himself, so I just explained to him that it is not alright to address people that way and to ask people to buy drugs. I could see that the guy was confused and that he had picked up habits he thought would help him adapt to American urban life. This behavior could cause a lot of problems for himself and his family, like jail or deportation, especially with the issue of immigration being in the national spotlight.

Many immigrant youth and families are not aware that there are deportable crimes because they are not fully aware of American law. What are some of the tools and resource that are available to help these young people make the transition and be a positive representative of their culture? One resource is Kids World International, an organization founded by Princess Chomilo Kisob. Kisob was inspired by her mother, Bri Chomilo,who is an advocate and source of information for people who immigrate to this country to build a better life for themselves and their families. Kisob first came up with the idea when she went to work with her mother. She says that seeing her mother work with immigrant families made her want to find a way to educate and empower immigrant youth. The purpose and mission of Kids World International is to do just that; to educate and empower youth who are trying to integrate into American society.

What makes Kids World International special is that it is founded and run by young people. Kisob has been nominated three times to represent her community at the national young leader's conference. Kisob wants to educate young immigrants about crime and other negative behavior that can cause them to be deported, such as lying to police or judges about who they are, lying on employment applications and/or getting involved in gangs, drugs, or committing a violent crime.

There are many resources that are available on the Kids World International web site, such as links to Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. If you would like to learn more about Kids World International, the web address is: www.hrusa.org/kidsworld, the email address is: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call (612) 626-0041.
 

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