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In all the years I’ve taught memoir at The Loft, at times I would have an immigrant in the class who wanted to write his/her story.
On Saturday, in my generative memoir class, I had SIX immigrants show up.
I was heartened and excited. Because instead of seeing one big faceless group, memoirs will provide an individual’s perspective. People have known for ages that it’s easy to demonize a faceless group, easier to demonize when you strip them of humanity, strip them of their stories.
In the class was a woman from Iraq, a man from Austria, a man from Greece, a man from India, and two women from Laos. They’d been in the U.S. anywhere from 40 years to just a few years. Six people out of a class of 15 — more than one-third.
I think there are a few reasons why so many immigrants were in the class. For one, I think The Loft is doing a great job reaching out to underrepresented communities. But also, now more than ever because of the political climate, immigrants feel an urgent need to tell their individual stories.
I hope they all left class inspired and ready to do the work of writing memoir. I predict this will be the next big wave in memoir — we’ve had waves of women’s memoir, trauma memoir, big huge dramatic story memoir, addiction memoir, etc. Now is the perfect time for immigrant memoir. I cannot wait to read those stories.
Hello there, I’m writing from Australia and I wanted to say that I also like this post. I think it’s interesting that you refer to people in your class as immigrants. In Australia we would called them migrants which took me down a rabbit hole of trying to work out the difference. I couldn’t find a definitive answer and it doesn’t matter, it’s just interesting. In the 1950s and 60s a lot of people migrated to Australia from Europe and we called them “New Australians”.
The word choice difference is interesting! Thank you for making that point. When I think of “migrant,” I think of the term “migrant workers.” When I was young in rural Minnesota, we’d have migrants who would come and work in the fields during harvest time. When I looked for a definition online, it looks like migrants move from place to place within a country to do that type of seasonal work, whereas an immigrant moves from one country to another. But most migrants are immigrants.
I second this. Thank you for this post.
Tracy Rittmueller said:
Yay! That’s awesome!