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Immigrant Workers and Meanings of Work

Communicating Life and Career Transitions

Edited By Suchitra Shenoy-Packer and Elena Gabor

This first-of-its-kind book uniquely captures the meanings of work expressed by immigrants. Their stories – from work histories to life transitions and professional journeys – are conscientiously and rigorously mapped by the academic insights of communication scholars, many of whom are immigrants themselves.
Immigrant workers’ narratives of work and its nuances in an adopted country offer many hitherto muted, invisible, and/or purposely silenced perspectives. A variety of new and familiar terms – concepts such as career inheritance, aphorisms, cultural adaptation, acculturation, and cultural distance – and culture-specific terms such as ganas and consejos are discussed alongside the inherent struggles of identity construction across borders.
While the contributors represent diversity in co-cultural affiliations, national origin, and immigration experiences encountered both personally and professionally, the stories of immigrants represent an even larger number of countries and cultures.
This volume compels the academic community to acknowledge immigrants as workers whose voices matter and whose sense and processes of meaning-making is nuanced, complex, and multi-dimensional. Immigrant workers’ voices can contribute significantly to the rich growth of research in organizational communication, meanings of work, career studies, cross-cultural management, psychology of work, and work and society.


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Chapter Six: The Labor of Identity Development: Work Lessons from Immigrant Parents (Flor Leos Madero)


c h a p t e r s i x I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t contain my tears. We hadn’t left for the United States, but I already felt lost. The night I found out, my dad must have heard me sniffling and came to check. He asked what was wrong, so I told him I didn’t want to leave México, I was afraid, I didn’t even speak English. His response was, “Lo siento, Mija, asi es la vida” [“I’m sorry, my daughter, that’s life”]. And that is where my immigrant story begins. I was born in Del Rio, Texas, but raised in the border town of Acuña, México. When I was eight years old, my parents decided that my siblings and I should learn English and seize the oppor- tunity of an American education, so they enrolled us in the Del Rio school district. However, they did not want us to forget Spanish, so they decided that we should attend both Mexican and American schools at the same time. In the morning we would go to school in Del Rio and in the afternoon we would go to Acuña. This meant we were in a classroom from eight in the morning until five in the evening. We did this for four years until we moved from the border town to a small West Texas city. In México, my parents were professionals with successful careers. My mother was an...

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