Expatriates in America are often viewed as an exotic sight to locals who want to learn more about their travels, jet-setting lifestyle and more about their culture. However, along with the curiosity, many expatriates also come across prejudice. How can expatriates living in America overcome prejudice?
One of the best ways to overcome prejudice as an expatriate is to try to assimilate into the local culture and avoid unfair comparisons with home. Of course, it is only natural that you feel homesick and would rather be back home amongst friends, family and familiar surroundings. Nevertheless, could it be that you are misinterpreting the reactions of others as they respond to your adjustment? Some expatriates spend so much of their time grumbling about what they do not like about America that they fail to realise locals are offended by their attitude.
Expatriates then misinterpret people’s reactions as prejudice or discrimination on. So if you have just arrived in America, take the time to adjust to living in a foreign country. Sample the local cuisine and learn some American English terms so that you can get by and understand what is being said. Making the effort to learn more about the American culture can ease feelings of insularity and isolation and help serve as a protection from prejudice.
Despite the best of efforts, prejudice is still a reality for many expatriates and their children who move to America. If your child has been the victim of prejudice or discrimination, do not give up. Encouraging children to respond in kind to a bully will not resolve the issue or make them view your child as an equal. Parents are responsible for dealing with incidences of prejudice and discrimination that their children are facing by taking a mature approach.
Start by asking your children how they are adjusting to their new school and this will then open the way for your children to talk to you about problems that they are having. If you notice any noticeable changes in your children such as withdrawing from your company, failing grades or depression, do not ignore these signs and just assume that your children are merely homesick.
Make an appointment to speak with teachers to discuss how your children are settling into their new school and find out what the teachers have to say about your children’s interaction with other children. American schools generally take a hard line against bullying in all its forms.
Schoolchildren often assimilate more quickly than their parents do when they move to another country, picking up the culture, language and mannerisms of locals in next to no time. However, for some it takes longer to feel at home, especially if they have had to face prejudice and discrimination. If you are a parent, be alert to signs of prejudice and take quick action to deal with it.