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Celebrating the Polish Immigrant Community: Strengthening Cultural Bonds and Representation in Westfield, MA

Abstract
Immigrant communities are a part of every city and town in the United States. Sentiments towards immigrants, however, continue to vary, but in recent years, anti-immigrant sentiments have become more widely encountered, especially because of the recent presidential election (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016). A lack of knowledge and representation of diverse cultures, along with recurring negative rhetoric, may influence how immigrant populations are received. This report argues that acknowledging culture and heritage can strengthen cultural bonds, create and celebrate a unique city identity, and improve cultural representation. The City of Westfield, Massachusetts, located in Hampden County, will be studied in this report. Amongst the several immigrant communities in the city, the Polish population is one that is present, but underrepresented. Through participant interviews, elements of place attachment, cultural representation, and cultural values will be studied. This research hopes to encourage greater cultural representation by enhancing place attachment and representation for present and future immigrant residents. This report will also aim to contribute to the greater studies and literature surrounding cultural planning by examining the importance of culture and heritage in the planning field and offering recommendations.
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