Immigrant parallels drawn at UHV symposium

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Nov. 15, 2012 at 5:15 a.m.
Updated Nov. 16, 2012 at 5:16 a.m.

Kübra Gümüsay, 24, is a Muslim-German blogger.

Kübra Gümüsay, 24, is a Muslim-German blogger.

Although seemingly different on the surface, Muslim and Mexican immigrants have a striking correlation that a group of academics and journalists have noticed.

A three-day symposium focused on the parallels between the two communities began Thursday and will continue through Saturday.

"'We Called For Workers But People Came': Muslims in Germany and Mexicans in the United States" is sponsored by the University of Houston-Victoria, the Robert Bosch Stiftung foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

A few of the slated speakers visited with Victoria Advocate editors Thursday to talk about the media's role in covering immigrant communities.

Kübra Gümüsay, a popular Muslim blogger in Germany, shared her stories with educators and journalists in the room.

"If they cannot shape the color of their communities, they should be able to shape their environment," said the 24-year-old. "I've been amazed at the similarities between the two."

At 31.8 million in 2010, Mexican-Americans comprise 63 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population and 10 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.

Another Pew study found there are about 4.12 million Muslims living in Germany and that they make up 5 percent of the general population.

Macarena Hernández, a journalist and UHV educator, said she wasn't happy with the assignments she was given early in her career when she was reporting between Mexican and U.S. lines.

"I wasn't being asked to cover things that reflected what was actually happening on the border," Hernández said.

Thalia Longoria, a former journalist who now teaches for an El Paso school district, said she often confronted racism while reporting on the border.

"I was once asked to send back a white journalist without media bias," Longoria said.

Gümüsay added that she would omit her Turkish fluency from her resume because she didn't think it had any value at the time.

Nellie Ugarte, an educator from El Paso, said after her mother moved her across the border, she felt similar pressure to suppress her native tongue.

"It was a dark two years when I first started learning English," Ugarte said. "I felt like I was living two different lives."



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