Welcome Strangers: Designing a Sense of Belonging
Watson, Sarah Lynn
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As people from cultures around the world come to the United States to resettle they are faced with many difficulties, one of them being the sense of belonging. Starting the process of integration, immigrants are faced with cultural differences, economic struggles, and stereotypes. Immigrants are the resettling of humans into a new country. This term is different than emigrants, which are humans who seek to resettle but that haven’t reached their destination. The process of settling immigrants into a new society or community and culture is the definition of integration. The idea of lost identity or being faced with discrimination are sometimes the negative outcome of immigrant integration but many immigrants dream of new opportunities prevail. In many cases immigrants migrate to the United States for education or employment yet in some circumstances it can be unsafe conditions from their home country. Immigration tends to be in the tending political issues and this tends to create an unwanted and unwelcoming atmosphere for immigrants. This can leave an immigrant feeling invisible and isolated, and soon their image of new opportunities dissolves away. All these challenges could be lessened by having a sense of belonging. This missing connection of an immigrant’s sense of belonging and their community they resettle into is the topic of this thesis. By researching, interviewing, surveying and designing this thesis aims to provide a deeper understanding of the process involving immigrant integration and how architecture can support new comers into the community. Designing a community center with a focus on creating a stronger connection between immigrants and the community. Designing a program for the center to support those wishing to become a citizen, such as a library or a startup bank. Multipurpose rooms and learning kitchen will be apart of the program to get the community involved as well as a daycare or greenhouse. People are always on the move, and for those who are moving to a new place it is up to society to make them feel welcomed. This thesis will rely on words of others, especially immigrants, on what design can do for them. Architecture creates a space for people to gather, it brings people together, this creates a shared bond and that bond will play a large role in this thesis.