Migrant Project Part of Undergraduate Research Conference

Published Thursday, November 19, 2015
Graphic for Migrant Voices Project
Graphic for Migrant Voices Project

An ambitious research project tells the stories of 50 individuals who have migrated to the area will be a part of the upcoming Undergraduate Research Conference Dec. 2 on the campus of SMSU.

The project is called Migrant Voices: The Marshall Area Narrative Inquiry Project and is coordinated by Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Kerry Livingston. Students in her interdisciplinary class Applied Research Methods participated.

The students interviewed 50 individuals who have migrated to the area within the past 30 years. “We wanted to have a better understanding of what life was like before these individuals arrived, and since they’ve arrived,” said Livingston. “Some have come from horrific circumstances, they’ve been in refugee camps for 10, 15, 20 years, or come from economic despair. We wanted to know how their lives have changed.”

Each story will be featured on a poster as part of the Undergraduate Research Conference. “The project involved two stages of analysis,” said Livingston. “First, each student who conducted an interview was asked to craft a profile using narrative data from their transcripts. In the second stage of the analysis, a group of eight students used various coding strategies to find common themes in the interview data,” she said.

Graduate students and seniors acted as mentors to freshmen who were a part of the project. Seniors, primarily, did the actual interviews, and when needed, SMSU students served as interpreters. The interviews were digitally recorded, then transcribed and analyzed from there.

The largest group of participants came from Southeast Asia, followed Mexico, Somalia, Kenya and Nigeria.

Most said their greatest sources of support, outside of family and friends, are teachers and professors, agencies and non-profits in Marshall. “Several people just said Americans are wonderful,” said Livingston. “Another thing that came up most often, when asked what can be done to help immigrants start a new life, is for people to have a better understanding of what they went through, and what they are going through,” she said.

“I hope it starts some conversations,” said Livingston. “What’s so beautiful, and something the students and I heard often, is that people were so incredibly grateful to talk about their experiences.”

The project posters will be located on the second floor of the Student Center during the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Tag: Sociology