Arab-American Women Adjusting to American Culture

Arab American Women find it very difficult at times to adjust to the cultural changes that are placed in their way when coming to America. A group was formed to better help these women adjust to the changes it is called Arab-American Women’s Council. According to them many Arab American women face depression from the loss of a close-knit extended family that they had in their former country. This council helps these women deal with this feeling of loss by bringing women together who have recently come to the United States and have them discuss the issues they face when confronting the American culture.

By having these women come together they are hoping to create ways in which they can face the new social challenges. It is there to help the women bridge cultural gaps while also allowing them to become community leaders.

The committee’s director Rasmea Yousef stated in the Chicago Tribune that, “We help them express feelings. Traditionally, women didn’t speak of private things. They thought it was shameful”

The committee is important because many Arab Americans when first coming to the country lack language skills and even education levels that can help them find jobs, which can then lead to financial strain. Another level of stress that arises is mothers with their children. As many Arab American children attempt to fit in with their peers at school the tension in the home can rise. For example, if the mother’s delaing with their children’s problems at school have trouble speaking English t can be very difficult for them to communicate with their child’s teacher.

“The most important thing here is communication,” said Abdalla Ali, a family therapist. He also then added that he was a translator during a counseling session for a mother who spoke only Arabic and her teenage son who spoke only English. He continued with, “It really depends on the family. When a father and mother can’t follow their kids in school and go to the parents meetings and read what the school sends home, you have a very difficult burden to manage,” he said. “Families often try to hide these problems, this shame.”

One way the group states that it helps is by allowing the women to open up about what they are going through. The group finds that everyone’s stories are very relatable. The bond and strength gained from knowing that one is not alone is what helps battle the cultural differences these women face. Many women are now finding the group as a sanctuary where they are free to talk about their everyday lives, something that is very difficult for most Arabic women to do in their home.

This Arab- American Women’s Committee is a great resource of incoming Arabic women. The idea that a group can help make these women adjust easier is a great start to helping improve their lives in America. The cultural differences between many American woman and Arab-American women are vast, but with the idea that others are experiencing it to, could really help. Not only are these women struggling with fitting in to another society, but also trying to raise their families in a area where they have never been. This committee is a great resource for Arab-American women and should be looked into any recent Arab-American immigrants.

Chicago Tribune Article


3 thoughts on “Arab-American Women Adjusting to American Culture

  1. Having such a council is a great thing for these women, yet i think the bigger change and the thing that can hellp them mroe is how their society deals with them outside the council. They are living among American women, and for that these women are supposed to accept each other, and despite all the cultural differences be very positive to each other. I’m not sure I understand how big of a problem it is, or how irrelevant Arab-American women feel, probably because I don’t live in the US, but I think the best way is to adpt socially along with being part of the council.

  2. I agree that having such a group will help these women in numerous ways. My question is, do you think at any point schools will become aware of such issues relating to a language gaps (not just in regards to Arab-Americans but other languages also) and make an effort to be more accessible to non-American students/parents? Also, you mentioned that many Arab-American women have a difficult time adjusting to the U.S. because they miss the support of their extended families etc. but how much of a role do you think American stereotypes of Arabs plays into this feeling of isolation, if at all?

  3. I think it is hard to really understand the struggles that Arab-American women are really facing. How does the women that speaks Arabic communicate with her son that speaks only English? Do they still follow along with their Arabic culture? Having this council is great but I agree with Lynn, the question ishow society treats them and deals with them outside the council. I think that having this council helps the Arab women adjust to the culture shift, by giving them support they are used to but still helping them become used to the changes.

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