Exploring Immigrant Life

For many immigrants to the United States, life in the new country can be isolating. That's why Medill School of Journalism professor Jack Doppelt is creating connections. Last year Doppelt launched a class where Northwestern students meet immigrants and share their stories.

"The sharing of stories and information is a time-honored antidote to isolation," said Doppelt, adding that the Chicago area is home to 1.5 million immigrants.

Students in the class, Connecting with Immigrants and Multi-Ethnic Communities, have visited Chicago ethnic neighborhoods and met with individual immigrants, ethnic journalists and immigrant advocacy groups.

At a "summit" last fall Doppelt brought Chicago-area ethnic journalists together with members of his class to come up with a topic of mutual relevance to multi-ethnic readers. They decided on the 2010 U.S. Census, and the students in the class, which is open to students of any major, wrote stories for six ethnic publications on the topic.

With help from Northwestern's International Office and the Center for Civic Engagement, Doppelt is now working on developing a corps of Northwestern student translators to make relevant content available on the Immigrant Connect site.

This spring Doppelt's class is profiling refugees from 10 different countries. The students will also work on projects in collaboration with nine ethnic media outlets.