Morrison and I recently met with our library’s two special collections librarians to discuss how we might go about conducting our research for the project. Between the two meetings, we received a huge amount of information and tips regarding what migrant communities we can learn about and reach out to, as well as how to go about doing that. Some migrant communities in Berkshire County that the librarians mentioned include Greek communities, Chinese communities, and Italian communities. One of the librarians also noted that the county is actively trying to attract young migrants from inside and outside of the United States, in order to counteract the aging population in Western Massachusetts. Generally when people think of migration, they think of it in terms of what pushes and pulls the migrants themselves. People also frequently explore the sometimes less-than-welcoming reception that migrants encounter in their new locations. Communities making a concerted effort to bring in migrants, however, does not come up as often in discussions and academic studies, so this could be a unique and interesting concept to explore.
The librarians also provided a number of resources for getting underway with our research. For information on local immigration, they suggested the archivists in the local libraries of nearby cities and towns, the local historical society, and the local chamber of commerce. As far as getting into contact with local migrants, the librarians suggested the Berkshire Immigration Center, immigrant support groups, local churches, and immigrant faculty-members that may be able to offer stories of their own experiences as well as contact information for their family members. In meeting with the special collections librarians, we were able to obtain a wealth of information and suggestions.
Questions for the local Chinese immigrant community:
- What were some reasons that you decided to leave China and migrate to the United States?
- Why did you choose to move to this area (Western MA) specifically?
- What were some challenges that you experienced as you built a new life in America and adjusted to a different set of cultural norms?
- Do you have any regrets or doubts about having migrated?
- If you migrated here somewhat recently, how do you envision your new life in this country? What do you hope to experience?
- How do you get involved with the local Chinese migrant community?
- How do you get involved with the general community?