Chicago Welcomes You
December 4, 2009 9:44 PM   Subscribe

Chicago Welcomes You "How to redesign a resettlement process for immigrants who may never have seen a streetlight, cooked on a stove, used a toilet that isn’t a hole in the ground or handled any type of currency." More about the project.
posted by ocherdraco (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
"Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free..." etc.

I'm glad this is happening.
posted by mike_bling at 10:50 PM on December 4, 2009

Fantastic project. I can't actually recall seeing the Karen Sgaw language before, I had to double check it was an actual language and not a filler. It's so cool looking.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:53 PM on December 4, 2009

Thanks for pointing this out--I think I know where I'm sending a chunk of my end-of-year charity donations. What a fantastic project.
posted by MeghanC at 12:08 AM on December 5, 2009

This is a cool project. When I came to America from Bosnia, there certainly weren't resources specific for Bosnian Muslims, as there wasn't any significant Bosnian Muslim population in America yet. I was in school and assimilated quickly, but many of my fellow refugees were elderly people, shell-shocked from their experiences and having a very hard time adapting to a new language and a new culture and a retirement of unexpected poverty.

Sadly, these people were sometimes directed to go to Serbian or Croatian social clubs to seek assistance - this was especially true in Chicago, which has long-standing Serbian and Croatian immigrant communities. Some actually did this - desperation can cause an otherwise proud person to swallow his or her pride - but the results were often, well, evil, but I'll leave that to your imagination.

The Karen are an interesting people, who fought against the Japanese and the Burmese in WWII and are still paying the price, and still fighting against the repressive Myanmar military government. They thought they'd receive some degree of autonomy with the assistance of the British (who benefited greatly from Karen assistance in the war.) But, no dice - another sad embarrassment for the West. Despite the hindrances of their oppression and relative poverty back home, they will make great Americans, and it's a swell thing to see that someone isn't making them jump through more pointless hurdles.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:25 AM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

What a cool project, helpful to a community that needs it and cool for those creating the materials. It would be a great project to work on if you're a design student. When I took technical writing, I enjoyed creating materials like this except mine was just for a grade.
posted by shoesietart at 4:40 AM on December 5, 2009

Awesome. I work with refugee youth in my theatre training program. In the last few years, we have been working with some of the Karen who came to Toronto via Thailand refugee camps. When we asked the group what the most surprising or challenging thing about Canada, we floored by the answers. We expected they might say, "the snow", "the language", "school", but no. Invariably the most common answer given as the most challenging thing in Canada? "Buildings." Not high buildings or lots of buildings, the concept of buildings. If this is their starting place, I cannot begin to imagine their other challenges. On the other hand, I have seen these bright Karen young people I work with become fluent and confident over the last two years. Resilience and youth are amazing things.
posted by typewriter at 5:14 AM on December 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'd care more if Chicago weren't fictional.
posted by inturnaround at 7:00 AM on December 5, 2009

This is a great idea, but what's the literacy rate among the Karen refugees?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:05 AM on December 5, 2009

This is a great idea, but what's the literacy rate among the Karen refugees?

The article mentions the emphasis on pictorial design to overcome literacy problems.
posted by letitrain at 8:16 AM on December 5, 2009

Very cool, thanks for posting it. I don't see why they don't post the whole design (and a printable b/w PDF) so more people can use it or be inspired to create similar materials for other immigrant groups. They want donations for their printed booklet, fair enough, but they say they're going to run out with only a few thousand copies and then the next print run is uncertain? But there are 50,000+ Karen coming to the US?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:38 PM on December 5, 2009

Back in the eighties I was working in a factory and they hired a bunch of Hmong refugees that were fresh out of the refugee camps and were very traditional still in their ways.
One of them was a very old looking woman and she was having a little trouble with one of the jobs she was working on and kept muttering "osh, osh" and I was going to ask one of the Hmong guys what this meant when she finally said "Oh shit!".
Most of them settled in real well but the younger generation had a lot of trouble with gangs because they had to settle in poor areas and chicano gang territoriality meant they had to form their own gangs.
And I enjoyed the comments in the first link.
posted by Iron Rat at 2:10 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know how to use a toilet, but your country won't let me in...
posted by A189Nut at 4:27 AM on December 6, 2009

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