Worcester is a melting pot of all ethnic groups, with it becoming more diverse by the year. Each group has its own unique culture and celebrates its own tradition. These groups have encountered many different obstacles in coming to the United States. Often times their needs and interests are overlooked leading to isolation and depression. There are many organizations whose goal is to assist these immigrant groups and make sure they are cared for. An organization that is determined to have a positive impact in successful immigrant integration is the YMCA. We have been working with the YMCA Central Community branch located at 766 Main Street Worcester MA, which has been designated a Global Center of Excellence for their extensive work with people of all ethnic groups. The Y approached us with the purpose of defining who the newcomers are to the Worcester Community, identifying ways to interact with these groups so we can discover their needs and figure out points of entry to get them involved in Y activities.
After preliminary research we concluded that we would focus on Iraqis, Vietnamese and Brazilians. We began by calling various charitable organizations around the city that are known for working with immigrants. As we progressed, we were able to set up interviews with directors of some of these organizations to ask questions based on our project and see if we could come back to interview and survey the populations that they work with. We discovered there were businesses that were run by these immigrant groups, and we interviewed the owners. We were allowed to come back to interview and survey their customers.
By the end of the project we changed our targeted groups to Burmese, Vietnamese, Ghanaians and Iraqis based on the results that we were receiving. Through our interviews and surveys with these ethnic groups, the response to our inquiry of their favorite activity was soccer. Each person that we interviewed had the option to give us their top three favorite activities. Soccer was an overwhelmingly the majority choice, accounting for more than twenty percent. The second and third choices were for general exercise which would be working out or weight lifting; and swimming. Responses that received only one vote were grouped together in a section itself, since it would not have much meaning for the overall recommendations that we are relaying to the Y.
From our findings we have formulated several recommendations for the YMCA that they can begin to implement in the near future as well as suggestions for how to handle the continuation of this study in the future. In terms of what the Y can do in the near future, we recommend that they begin to offer a soccer program for people of all ages, skills and ethnicities. The implementation of a soccer program can be handled in many different ways; either at the Y in the gym, across the street in the park, or at their Camp Blanchard in Sutton, MA. However, each option has pros and cons associated with it. Some considerations that need to be made are cost, transportation, and participation.
We also recommend that the Y redirects their resources to the various ethnic organizations around Worcester by going to these new constituents rather than having them come to the Y. In speaking with directors of these organizations, we learned that many of these ethnic groups are hesitant to leave the comfort of their own culture and often have most of what they need at these locations. If the Y were to bring their programs to these places, we believe that it would raise awareness of the Y while making these ethnic groups more comfortable and familiar with what the Y offers. The Y could offer easily transportable services such as yoga and plyometrics as group activities at places like the Southeast Asian Coalition where large numbers of Vietnamese gather in the evening. The Y could also offer such a gathering place to the other ethnic communities that lack a common meeting space. In general, we believe that these partnerships will benefit both the Y and other organizations by bringing together their knowledge and resources.
For future projects we have many recommendations that will allow for more effective usage of the project time. Such suggestions include beginning organization contacts during ID 2050 so that the target groups can be solidified before the project beings. This recommendation allows for the maximum amount of time for data collection during the project; a lack of time was an issue that we ran into during our study.