Patricia Kiwanuka is a Rwandese immigrant who entered the country in the year 1994. She was fleeing from the genocide in her country that claimed over one million innocent lives. In the ensuing slaughter, she lost all members of her family, saw her sisters raped by murderous soldiers, and witnessed the brutal hacking to death of her grandfather. As she recounted her tale of horror, one could not help but feel sympathy for this 32 year old immigrant working in a shelter for battered women.
She managed to secure an immigrant pass on the basis of political persecution. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees facilitated safe passage for her to the US where she was granted legal status after a five year waiting period. In the last ten years she has been able to further her education and get a college degree in social studies and human psychology. At the shelter, she counsels victims of domestic violence, rape incidents and sexual harassment. Her superiors commend her saying she is one of the best workers they have.
Patricia is single and childless. The rape ordeal has traumatized her such that she does not want to get married or have a relationship with any man. However, she attends therapy to try and get her to come to terms with her past and move on with life. Interview Questions The interview sought to investigate the relationship between an immigrant’s experiences and their work performance in human services. Key topics identified for research included reason for immigrating, educational background, motivation for working in human services, and future prospects.
A list of the questions asked included; i. Why did you immigrate to the US? ii. How many family members did you immigrate with? iii. What is your immigration status? iv. Why did you choose to work in the human services sector? v. What is the highest educational qualification you possess? vi. Have you furthered your education since immigrating? vii. What impact did your studies have on your work performance? viii. What are your future plans as concerns working in the human services sector? ix. Which sector would you prefer to be working in?
x. Do you have any dependants? Questions (i) and (ii) sought to know the reasons behind the immigrant’s decision to leave her homeland and if this decision was supported by any of her family. In this particular case, the immigrant lost all her family in the genocide and as such, it was not possible to establish if her decision had the blessings of her next of kin. Question (iii) was asked so as to confirm her immigration status and whether she was entitled to work in the human services sector.
Question (iv) sought to establish her motivation for working in her present occupation while question (v), (vi) and (vii) investigated her educational background, any progress in furthering her education and what effect it had on her work performance. Questions (viii) and (ix) established the interviewee’s future plans about working in the human serviced sector and whether her choice was her preferred one. Question (x) sought to confirm the number of people who depended on the interviewee for a living.
Analysis of Data The immigrant interviewed, left her homeland out of necessity rather than choice. With no family and a hostile environment, she had no option to flee if she was to save her life. In her case, economic prosperity was not the reason she chose to make a new beginning away from Rwanda and wealth accumulation has never featured in her motivation to work. She has a mission to help all those who have suffered trauma from all kinds of oppressors.
Realizing her limitations in fulfilling her dream, she felt it necessary to further her education in a bid to be more effective in delivering services to the battered women. As a victim, Patricia finds it easy to empathize with the women who seek protection in the shelter. Cultural, racial or social differences are immaterial when it comes to human feelings like fear, anxiety and hopelessness; Patricia has realized that her agony and suffering are no less because she is an African, or that the white mother battered by her husband feels more pain because of her race (Rothstein-Fisch, 2003, p.
63) Her performance at work is all the more impressive not because of the education she received but because she can identify with the experiences the victims are going through and offer some comfort because she has endured and survived the same, if not worse. In her case, education honed her inborn skills as opposed to providing her with the knowledge on how to handle battered women. Her commitment to duty is so strong that, she would prefer to forgo the joys of bringing up a family to concentrate on healing the emotional wounds of those under her care.
Patricia feels that her contribution to mankind will not be complete unless she has made a better place. She has started a program targeting women from war torn regions who have suffered as the result of the conflicts. She hopes that one day, she will run an organization that will provide shelters for women who have, lost their loved ones due to wars, suffered sexual abuse at the hands of marauding soldiers or forced to flee their homes because of invading armies.
At the same time she has petitioned the Secretary General of the UN not to relent in his quest for peace as it is the women who suffer most during conflicts. This shows that immigrants working in the human services sector are caring people who want to reach out and help those in need. Discussion of Findings and Conclusions The paper sought to establish if there was a relationship between the personal experiences’s of immigrants working in the human services sector and their performance outcomes at work. In the case of Patricia, research showed that there was a strong correlation between the two aspects.
She was committed to helping out others that had suffered a similar or worse fate than her, on a humanitarian basis rather than for monetary gain. This contributed to her determination to improve her performance outcomes by going for further studies to in a bid to acquire new skills that would help her deliver better services. Her wish to see the sufferings of women affected by war alleviated was demonstrated by her letters to the secretary general exhorting him to all in his power to end conflicts globally.
The reasons that make a person leave their homeland to go and live in a foreign land with a different culture must be very compelling, especially if the immigrant was not seeking financial wealth (Rothstein-Fisch, 2003, p. 63). The human services sector drains workers of their emotional and physical strength. Workers who thrive in this sector are gifted with a big heart and are very compassionate to their fellow man. They are blessed with a mission in life and gladly carry out their duties in the knowledge that that their efforts make other people very happy.
The challenges faced during the interview included the reluctance on the part of the interviewee to open up and discuss her past. The trauma she felt had not been forgotten and she preferred that the interviewer change the subject. For most immigrants, discussing their immigration status is something they prefer to avoid. With that in mind, the interviewer had to seek this information from other sources as the interviewee was cagey and the information obtained from her on this subject had to be verified to be reliable.
In future, the interviews should contain privacy clauses that protect the nature of information that can be made public about an interviewee. Basing our conclusions on Patricia’s case one can argue that immigrants working in the human service sector are more likely to be committed to their job than those working in other sectors. Further, most immigrants seek employment in this sector because of their personal experiences which make them identify with the people they deal with. Bibliography Carrie, Rothstein-Fisch. Published Readings for Bridging Cultures. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2003