NYN Media Insights Podcast on Building Resilience in Marginalized Communities

NYN Media Insights Podcast on Building Resilience in Marginalized Communities

October 18, 2016
Apr 16

Post 9/11, during this presidential election cycle and after nearly every act of violence where terrorism is suspected, an all-too-familiar fear of the "other" appears that tests the resilience of those in Middle-Eastern, South Asian and Arab communities. Executive director of the Arab American Family Support Center, Lena Alhusseini, joined us recently in the CEO Corner to talk about building resilience, supporting new immigrants and how she’d like to see the organization advance once she leaves to take a new position in November. 

New York Nonprofit Media regularly interviews nonprofit leaders to discuss their professional experience, lessons learned, perspectives on the industry and more. To recommend a candidate for our CEO Corner, contact Dan Rosenblum at drosenblum@nynmedia.com.

Below is an excerpt of our conversation, which has been edited for content and clarity:

NYN Media: What are some of the biggest culture shocks individuals in your community face when they arrive?

LA: You get disoriented. You don’t understand the system. For instance the school system, back home in some countries you have to legally have your kids in school, in some countries you don’t – like Yemen you don’t have to. So some families they come here, they decide maybe my daughter should stay at home, they don’t know it’s illegal.

NYN Media: How does the need for cultural sensitivity affect how you operate programs?

LA: We understand their struggles. When our kids come to our after school we help them understand where they are in the educational system. A lot of them suffer from a lot of racism in their schools and to be honest it’s not just the students; sometimes the teachers – “you’re Isis,” or “Osama.” We’re there to advocate on their behalf. We go with them to the schools and try to create awareness about what is racist because some people don’t even know they’re being racist.


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Aimee Simpierre
is New York Nonprofit Media’s editor-at-large.