The Lack Of The Sense Of Belonging Essay

The Lack Of The Sense Of Belonging Essay

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The lack of the sense of belonging to an ethnic community and the inability to maintain traditional social practices become barriers for Eritrean unaccompanied children who seek to balance the need for integration with the desire to maintain their cultural integrity. Desire to keep traditional familial practices and honoring the financial duty to support their families in their country of origin also prevents Eritrean unaccompanied children from fitting into the foreign host society. Interviews conducted with fourteen unaccompanied Eritrean children who got resettled to the US vividly show their struggle for assimilation in the host community which over 80% of them defined as the “Impossible Thing.”

Out of fourteen carefully selected interviewees who live in different parts of the US, twelve of them described integration into the host community in the US as an almost impossible task. They cited language barrier as a temporal problem that can be invalidated when they learn to speak English in their daily lives or in schools. Nevertheless, Eritrean unaccompanied children have to adapt to a lifestyle and practices that are very different to what they are used to-which is something strange for them. What is in their minds is maintaining relationships with their biological families in Eritrea and to hold themselves accountable for caring for their families. Ignoring such feeling of identity and sense of belonging unpleasantly alienates the unaccompanied children and youth and prevents them from integrating in the host community. Reem is an Eritrean unaccompanied youth who lived in Egypt for a year and a half before she got resettled to the US by UNHCR Egypt. She described her process of assimilation into the foreign community and host...

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...nerable group of refugees is represented as the best option for durable solutions to their problems. However, the children’s best interest and possibility of fitting into the host community are given less attention by the decision makers whether it is UNHCR or US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It pays lip service to justice when a child is deceived to be adopted by a foreign family without an adequate study of the influential factors around the child’s fate.

Therefore, the objective obstacles to the desires to start a meaningful life and maintain the thread to actual roots prevent them from peacefully integrating into the host society. Lack of adequate consideration of the children’s best interest in their process of resettlement also contributes as a barrier to assimilation. Thus, the youngsters’ struggle for assimilation becomes almost impossible to win.

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