2005 National Host Conference
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[ Section 3 ] Conference Workshops
Workshop 1F - Canada as ‘Host’ to the World: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives on Building and Sustaining Relationships between Newcomers and Long-time Residents
Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
This workshop involved facilitator presentation and interactive discussion/visioning on possibilities for research related to Host policies and programming. The objectives were two-fold:
- To present and discuss results from qualitative and quantitative studies on the Host Program and hosting relationships. This research addresses questions such as:
- How do newcomers and long-time residents understand their motivations to participate in Host relationships? How do these motivations change through participation?
- Do hosting relationships prove useful to newcomers and Canadian society, predicting the likelihood of civic engagement, employment status, strength of ethnic ties, satisfaction with experience in Canada, etc.?
- To shape the design and implementation of dissertation research that explores possibilities for Host Programs focusing on youth and partnerships between newcomer and long-time resident families. Through structured visioning processes among participants, the presenter hoped to shape this research in ways that are useful and responsive to CIC, implementing agencies, and newcomer communities.
Many countries face increasing diversity. Immigrant integration literatures deals with the macro-level: what happens to populations of people? Social capital theory, however, suggests that micro-level relationships are important. Particularly important in a diverse society are bridging relationships that connect people across their differences. These relationships are the levers that the keynote speaker, Ratna Omidvar, was talking about: the money in the bank, the job reference, etc. The intersection between immigrant integration literature and social capital theory is the cutting edge: it is where the Host Program has worked for 20 years.
- One of the principal questions in the social capital literature has thus become: how, and for what reasons, are people motivated to build bridging relationships? The theoretical idea is that societies would like to harness these motivations to build social capital through bridging relationships on a large scale. But there have been very few opportunities for scholars to look at how this really happens. People do not build relationships in systematic ways.
- The Host Program is an official opportunity for longtime residents and newcomers to practice associational behaviour, which leads to bridging. It is a perfect opportunity for academic investigation of important theoretical and policy-level questions.
- Are hosting relationships useful to newcomers, and to Canadian society, in that they predict the likelihood of outcomes of civic engagement, employment status, strength of co-ethnic ties, strength of bridging ties, and satisfaction with life in Canada? This question allows us to test to see if these relationships are useful at predicting desired positive outcomes.
- How do newcomers and long-time residents describe and understand their motivations to participate in relationships with each other? How do these motivations change through participation? This question looks at the process by which these relationships are built and how the participants themselves understand their motivations to participate.
Results from Quantitative Pilot Study
- The presenter is working with the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) at the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre. The first wave of data is all that is available right now, reporting on immigrants experiences six months after arrival in Canada. In this way, the data is limited, and the results are preliminary.
- The presenter observed several outcomes: 1) There seems to be a negative relationship between having a host and satisfaction with life in Canada. This likely does not mean that people who choose a host become dissatisfied with life in Canada through the program. It likely means that there is a selection bias: people who are dissatisfied with life in Canada choose to participate in the program. 2) There also seems to be no relationship between having a host and the formation of other bridging ties or co-ethnic ties. This means that people with hosts and without hosts are just as likely to have bridging ties and co-ethnic ties. Again, this finding may be a limitation of the data, specifically the time: this wave of surveying took place after 6 months and these processes likely take much longer.
Results from Qualitative Pilot Study
- Working with CultureLink in Toronto, a small-scale qualitative study was conducted, looking at two partnerships, four people.
- Two particular motivations emerged as critical for newcomers to join the Host Program: access to information and friendship, particularly a desire to escape isolation in a new place.
- Participants also spoke of developing larger-scale motives for participation, including the ability to enter social networks through their host and thereby feeling more a part of a Canadian community. As Ms. Omidvar described, the Host Program creates networks, building from the one strong tie created in the one-on-one match to weaker ties that help newcomers to get ahead.
Proposed Large-Scale Research
- Qualitative Component: following partnerships over six months through interviews, focus groups, and observations; attention to factors that emerge from quantitative analysis.
- Quantitative Component: continued and more detailed LSIC analysis to include variables that emerge from qualitative research.
Using Research to Make the Kind of Difference Host Wants to Make
- Immigrant assimilation and social capital literatures suggest the benefits of certain kinds of bridging relationships, particularly those embedded in larger social networks. Social capital and education literatures suggest the value of ‘closed systems’ for children, families, and communities.
- A joint focus on school quality and immigrant integration through the Host Program would be productive for the goals of both school improvement and integration for immigrants.
- Recommendation: Begin a Host Program that is designed according to the literature, linking parents who have children in the same school. This creates not just an isolated “friendship” but a relationship within a network of people (“nation-building”). It will be important to pilot this kind of innovation in a way that can be evaluated through a case-control or experimental design.
Linking Academic Work to Practice: What Questions Arise in Daily Host Work that Appropriate Research Might Address?
- What are the different models of Host servicedelivery? What are the goals? implementation?
- What motivates newcomers and volunteers to participate and how might these motivations inform outreach and marketing for the program?
- What expectations do people have when they decide to participate? How do these expectations interact with people’s motivations to join?
- What are the characteristics of a successful match? Why do some matches not work? Could we develop an exit survey?
- How long should a newcomer be in Canada before they become a volunteer? Are there guidelines?
- How do the effects of the Host Program differ by the needs of the newcomers, e.g. Refugees, people looking for jobs, etc.?
- How could the Host Program mediate processes of secondary migration?
- How do we help the partnerships to move from one-on- one relationships to networks? How might group sessions that integrate newcomers and volunteers work?
- Carry out the proposed quantitative and qualitative research (presenter)
- Explore the possibilities for a school-based model for Host that links adults (presenter)
- Collaboration between academics and agencies in the development of exit surveys
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