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2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the first law passed in the United States to establish numerical limits on immigrants entering the country. 

Storytelling is an activity that has been performed for centuries. Through storytelling, younger generations of people have been able to learn from the experiences of their elders. However, the use of storytelling is not limited to transmitting information across generations. Storytelling is an activity that is done by people of different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Even today in our modern, technology-enabled society, there are many options for and benefits of sharing our stories with others.

In its most basic terms, immigration refers to those who come to the United States to live. For most immigrants, the move to the country is permanent, and will be considered a long-term resident. When immigrants first arrive, it is important for them to share their stories, and what led them to ultimately immigrate to a new country. This reinforces the dignity of their human experience and allows them to integrate the experiences they have into their new identity in a new country.

The Benefits
There are many benefits that result from  immigrants sharing their stories. We can learn a great deal from the journey of a person who left one region and  adjusted to life in another. The immigrant journey commonly includes leaving familiarity to delve into unfamiliar circumstances, which has many challenges and lessons along the way. By sharing this story, an immigrant can inspire others to explore the unknown. Additionally, the story of an immigrant can teach people how to adapt or how to learn from the experiences of others. Documenting stories of immigration helps the rest of society understand some of the challenges immigrants face. 

Sharing Your  Story
When considering where to share  one’s story, there are several options to consider . Key considerations include  the goal of sharing and the target audience: adults, children, newly arrived or those considering immigration.  In addition, sharing stories of immigration can be beneficial to the society at large. 

The Power of Stories Collected Over time
Sharing one’s story can have a profound impact on how society understands immigrants and their experiences. A major benefits of sharing one’s story is that they  showcase the unique experiences that each generation has had. Not only will this provide more context into the sacrifices made during the journey, but it also truly helps give a more accurate idea of what the experience is like from the immigrant’s perspective. 

Another major benefit of sharing immigrants’ stories is that these stories can  help humanize the individuals involved. Similarly, it also gives other members of society  deeper appreciation and understanding of why citizenship is so important. It has shown that immigration actually boosts U.S. economic growth, making it important to raise awareness to others.

For those who recently immigrated to the United States or know someone who has,  I encourage you consider the importance of telling your personal experience. Research has found that personal narratives can not only increase awareness of immigration, but it can also provide a powerful story for how we can better support immigrants.