Unnatural causes: becoming American

The video followed the story of Amador Bernal, who immigrated to Pennsylvania and had to wait 10 years before his family could be invited to join him. Now, surrounded by not just his family, but many others from his hometown, he tries to make ends meet with his job at the mushroom farm. All members of his family have to work in some capacity in order to meet basic needs and usually that means high levels of stress and poorer opportunities for the children of the family. However, it was noticed that despite the poor financial status, they are in much better mental and physical health than Americans. The reason for this, is the strong familial support that immigrants usually receive, but the effect is short lived. The longer immigrants stay, the worse their health gets. Isolation is a major cause, and Kennett square, Pennsylvania has managed to keep that at bay by holding social gathering for their immigrant populations and giving their children proper after school opportunities to hone their skills.

More than the effects of isolation on mental health, I think I was more surprised by how supportive a receiving community can be. The scene showing the social gathering where a woman calls out for a “desperate need” for a bilingual receptionist was a great example in how immigrants can be given a chance to rise out of the poverty they were trying to escape. Also seeing the after school social spot, where the children could do homework and talk to each other was refreshing; Barnel’s own son could think beyond the low wage jobs he already he works at and wanted to venture into social service, helping others like him acclimate. Another son wanted to be an engineer, and I think that shows the success of the environment they were living in. They were willing to give up some of their shifts and only work weekends in order to focus on their academic standing, which is indicative of the good influence.

This was in direct contrast to the “place matters” situation we watched before, as the children in the laotian family struggled with drug addiction and gun violence while coping with the mental issues the environment presented. I think all the parts we have watched in this series, circles back to the same concept, that the environment you live in determines your health. Whenever there is a Kennett Square, the effects of capitalism, of culture shocks, and of health disparities is lessened, and it leads to effective use of the populace. Whenever there isn’t, you see conflict, disagreement and fatal illnesses at younger ages, which is detrimental to the economy of the place, and the emotional and physical well-being of the immigrant population.  

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