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Out of Albania: From Crisis Migration to Social Inclusion in Italy, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1581

Essay

Personal Growth Project

Even though people in the world become closer and connected to each other and even though there are several ways to easily obtain information, there are some events that can interrupt one’s moment and activate one’s thinking about another part of the world. In those situations, people start looking for new windows to highlight the facts and begin researching for hidden answers. One of these situations is the immigration journey. Precisely regarding the immigration journey, many Albanian families decide to come to the United States to create a new life and abandon an oppressive state. Western history is full of such situations, yet it may be said that the Albanian movement to the United States is a singular case. This paper focuses on the Albanian families’ motivations for migration, the hurdles they could face in the new home, and their ambitions.

The purpose of this project is expressing a new experience which supports a variety of diversities. For this reason, the point is to reveal the new life of immigrant people on various levels. One of these levels includes various difficulties that impact their lives in the long-term. Education, religion, language, and social life are vital factors that could be major hurdles for immigrant people. Also, this experience can open a new window to immigration rights that display equitable rules in various fields.

In order to achieve the purpose of the project, the Albanian family situation of recently becoming American citizens is discussed. The Albanian family consists of five members, parents and two children. The father came to the U.S. over twenty years ago as a business man. The mother, who is of Albanian origin also, came to the U.S. more than eleven years ago when they were married. They started a family away from their original homeland, and they have an eleven-year-old boy and a girl who is six–years-old.

For the project plan, it was necessary to conduct an interview with one of the family members. However, searching for documents was helpful in order to objectively determine facts about the dictatorial era. For this reason, an interview with the Albanian family mother was requested. Also, a search for a documentary film which discusses the period of dictatorial rule in Albania was conducted to expand the experience. As planned, two interviews with the mother, who has been cooperative and helpful by providing all necessary information for the project, was conducted.

Albanian Immigration: Background

Regarding circumstances prompting Albanian immigration, it is necessary to consider the unusual position of Albania in international affairs. In simple terms and largely due to the lengthy rule of dictator Enver Hoxha, Albania was for long decades a nation locked in time and removed from transitions shaping European nations throughout the 20th century. It may be argued that Hoxha’s authoritarianism kept the regime in place and somewhat feudal in nature. During the rule of Hoxha, Albania was indeed much a communist state, but it differed from others in its steadfast determination to be an isolationist nation. Ruling from 1945 until his death in 1985, Hoxha emphatically deplored communist states modifying their regimes in any way, even for the vital purposes of securing necessary trade (Turku, 2013, p. 89). Hoxha held to a perceived ideal of autonomy and his relentless adherence to this crippled the country’s economy and generated immense ideological and social conflict.

Inevitably, arising from this was the Albanian governmental condemnation of all nations allied with the U.S. (Turku, 2013, p.110), and this established Albania as perpetually isolated from the international trade and evolutions in government occurring around it. Before and since Hoxha’s death, sociologists and historians have invariably noted that Hoxha’s rule was paranoid and fiercely xenophobic in character and policy, an assessment validated by the course of Albania in the mid-20th century (Turku, 2013, p. 108). Initially, dependent upon Soviet support, Hoxha gradually disdained what he perceived as Soviet concessions to the U.S. and capitalism, which eventually resulted in Albania’s severance from the USSR in 1961. Hoxha then turned to China for Marxist solidarity and for tangible support needed to replace Soviet trade.

The death of Mao Zedong in 1976 signaled the end of Albanian/Chinese relations, and Albania’s isolation increased dramatically (Turku, 23013, p. 109). More to the point, Albanians themselves experienced deprivations most typically seen in ancient regimes. Hoxha declared his nation to be atheist, as he believed all religions to be corrupting manifestations of capitalist agendas. Furthermore, the end of Chinese interaction marked a radical decline in Albanian standards of living, simply because there was virtually no industry enabled by international commerce and a diminishing agricultural base.  Because of this, it estimated that nearly 50 percent of all Albanian children suffered from malnutrition by 1989 (King & Mai, 2011, p. 72). Not unexpectedly, and as soon as Hoxha’s regime began to weaken, desperately poor Albanians, living under a system denying religious freedom, educational opportunities, and social progression of any kind, began to seize upon emigration as a means of survival.

Issues in U.S. Immigration for Albanians

After spending more than two hours with the Albanian mother, the enormous burden on her shoulders as a mother was recognized. She has to keep in her mind all kinds of situations that could face her family members, here and in her homeland. This concept is common in world mothers but what is different is the courage in making a decision. Dreaming of looking for a new life is a passion for many people, but looking for a safe place is absolutely an urgent need for immigrants. In this case, looking for a safe home and establishing a solid foundation was the first necessity.

In assessing the difficulties faced by immigrant Albanians, there is an inevitable return to the issues that trigger the process. For example, Albanian women were and still are powerfully motivated to emigrate by the need to acquire education and, consequently, skills for earning, as Hoxha’s rigid policies rendered this virtually impossible. Research reveals that the majority of female Albanian immigrants are satisfied by the educational opportunities available to them in the U.S. At the same time, cultural issues impede this satisfaction as many also note that they perceive themselves discriminated against by virtue of their immigrant status alone (Stalford, Currie, & Velluti, 2009, p. 217). Interestingly, many also seek to attain education which will enable a better quality of living upon returning to Albania, even as the immigrants watch for signs of progress in their native land.

With regard to Albanian immigration in terms of social justice, which in turn encompasses education for children and religious freedom, the Albanian immigrant population reflects earlier immigrant tides in another way – there is a similar emphasis on the family.  Typically, only mosques and restaurants serve as cultural centers for Albanians, and this reinforces the immigrant identity as family-dependent. This does not appear to be diffusing in the way other immigrant cultures assimilate in the U.S.  Albanians work and attend school here, yet they seem determined to maintain a distinct Albanian identity.  Research supports this, in fact, as common wherever Albanians migrate (King, Mai, 2011, p. 88). There is as well a commonly seen incentive to remain in contact with relations in Albania, as well as facilitate immigration for related Albanians in Kosovo.

It is likely that this behavior is at least partially influenced by a challenge Albanian immigrants face, and one different from most other Europeans. Over 70 percent of Albanians are Muslim, and there remains intense discrimination from mainstream society in this regard.  All Muslim immigrants, modern studies find, are subject to greater levels of bias and stereotyping than any other immigrant population (Vera, 2012, p. 350). This bias, moreover, affects Albanians in multiple ways.  As religion is associated with Albanians, job opportunities are limited as social acceptance. Consequently, the Albanian immigrant inclination to rely only on family is more understandable.

What all of this indicates is an immigrant culture is as unique as that of the nation of origin.  Certainly, and as noted in the views of Albanian women regarding bias due to the immigrant position, Albanians face obstacles historically in place before immigrant populations existed. Equally reflective of other immigrations is the increasing presence of Albanians in the U.S., as opposed to Greece or Italy, due to greater freedoms available and lessened cultural stigmas.  If Americans in general are biased against the Muslim faith, there are still laws in place limiting harm from the bias. Then, there is no escaping the reality of the Albanians turning to the U.S. to precisely procure the basic advantages denied them for so long in Albania, including religious freedom. Nonetheless, when the evidence is examined, this seems to be a population still removed from other immigrants. The Albanian coming to America may indeed enjoy levels of social justice previously unknown, but they are as well subject to discrimination. This explains why Albanians in the U.S. were inclined to protect the integrity of their culture in order to allow the culture to be diffused within the larger American mainstream.

References

King, R. & Mai, N. (2011). Out of Albania: From crisis migration to social inclusion in Italy. New York: Berghahn Books.

Lazio, I. L. (Producer), Seijko, R., & Brescia, M. (Directors). (2012). Albania, La storia – Albania, the history (Translated in English) [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGY1lUP_U-Q

Stalford, H., Currie, S. & Velluti, S. (2009). Gender and migration in twenty-first century Europe. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing.

Turku, H.  (2013). Isolationist states in an interdependent world.  Burlington: Ashgate Publishing.

Vera, E. (Ed.) (2012). The Oxford handbook of prevention in counseling psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

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