DES MOINES, Iowa — Most groups in society have a stereotype surrounding them, and one that is no stranger to generalizations is immigrants.
“Immigrants are dumb. They can’t do anything and they are criminals,” said Anjana Biswa Drukpa, a junior at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, naming some of the stereotypes she has heard.
Many people do not believe these to be true, but each day our social media accounts are flooded with stories about the negative impact immigrants have on our country.
“They think immigrants are bringing are bring all the problems to the United States, but that’s not true because everyone is not the same,” said student Gideon Mesfin.
So instead of just accepting this and moving on, a group Des Moines teens are doing something about it. A dozen of them have partnered with Drake University to start CRSSP, or the Community Research Summer Scholars Project. The goal for this pilot program is to disprove those stereotypes.
“The best way to break stereotypes is to be educated. This is why I say talk to a neighbor, talk to an immigrant,” said Lourdes Gutierrez Najera, an anthropology professor at Drake.
Najera is teaching these students how to share their stories via podcast. All of them are immigrants with a different story to tell. Each will produce a three-part podcast series about their lives. Gideon is almost done with his first episode, and just a few seconds of listening to it will show how hard he works.
“The first time I started working, my manager told me I was going to get a raise in six months. When I moved to the gas station, he gave me the raise in three months,” he said.
Their stories are amazing.
Anjana came to the United States when she was just seven years old. In her series, she says people presumed she was dumb because she didn’t speak English. But they were wrong. In part of her podcast, she discusses her invitation to national conference for our best and brightest.
“It was for three days, and I got to meet Nobel prize winners, amazing doctors and scientists,” she said.
The students will finish work on the series this week and will release them next month. They hope after people listen to them, they will scrap the stereotypes of immigrants and really learn not to judge a book by its cover.
“Immigrants are not dumb. Many of us have a bright future,” said Mesfin.