School of Public Policy Capstones

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Berry (1980) refers to acculturation as a model for adaptation, and states that there are different levels of acculturation “moving with or toward, moving against and moving away from a stimulus” (p. 13). Arab immigrants have been coming to America on a small scale since the beginning of the twentieth century; however, immigration has steadily increased due to the political developments in the Middle East. Stereotypes of Arabs and post-September 11th sentiments have led to heightened discrimination and racism toward Arab Americans. Studies indicate that racial and ethnic discrimination lead to psychological distress. Of thirty-seven nonprofit organizations identified; twelve senior staff members (n=12), and executive directors participated in answering a series of electronic surveys. The surveys sought to identify the types of programming and services they offer the Arab American community that seek to build community and cohesion, facilitate integration, and strengthen community support networks. While the majority of the organizations surveyed stated that they offered a wide range of programming which aimed to facilitate integration, and strengthen community bonds, the organizations did not offer any programs that attempted rectify psychological distress, mitigate depression, and integrate Arab Americans into mainstream society while maximizing their potential to create social justice and social change. This paper presents the findings, and concludes with a program proposal that uses cooking as an art form to create a nurturing environment and build community. The program seeks to promote self-expression, empowerment, and the development of the necessary stress management and coping strategies needed to overcome depression and stress.