The Legacy of Immigration - Separation & Belonging in the US

Lab Cycle Oct 2020 - July 2021 Report

Facilitators

Susan Belchamber, Deepa Awal & Samvedam Randles

Trainees

Sean Culman & Tamara Pearl

LANGUAGE

English

Description

The history of the United States has been marked by a long history of displacement and separation. What constitutes the modern USA has largely been founded by immigrants. In addition, both Native and African Americans have historically been forced to move from their homelands. This Lab hopes to explore this archaeology, enhance understanding of immigration-based trauma, and contemplate future paths towards integration and healing.

We started out with a group of 35 participants and completed with 18 participants. 

We explored the following questions:

  • What constitutes the historical background to the U.S. immigration and displacement experience?
  • What factors of collective trauma impact the archeology of this experience and the possibilities of “belonging”?
  • How has the less-than-fully acknowledged role of slavery and genocide left a lasting imprint on U.S. culture?
  • What elements of language, identity, and discrimination make ‘othering’ of immigrants a reality in the US?
  • How does the United States, as a host country, inhibit the upward mobility of immigrants (e.g. in economic, and social domains)?
  • How does immigration affect cohesion/fragmentation of a nation?
  • What impact has this history and archaeology had on the unrest and polarization currently on display in the U.S?
  • What attributes of resilience show up for immigrants in the U.S. across cultural backgrounds?
  • How can we, as trauma-informed participants in the current U.S. landscape, create a space of exploration, acknowledgement, and witnessing to help integrate the fragmentation and expand the potential for collective resilience?

Stages of our process as a group:



1. Synchronising & Resourcing
3 sync, Group meditation based on a theme, journaling, triad sharings, group reflections, movement, poetry including poems submitted by participants in the lab, slideshow of photos of ancestors, and music.


2. Meeting the Collective Trauma Landscape
Exploring history of ancestral immigration and sensing our own rootedness in adopted land. Reflecting on the difference between current immigration vs. ancestral immigration experience. Reflecting on ‘what is belonging?’, ‘where am I most at home, and why?’ ‘Who and what was left behind?’ ‘How has my identity changed?’ ‘What did I let go of, what do I hold on to?


3. Exploring Individual & Collective Conditioning
Identifying conscious and unconscious transgenerational transmissions. Moving from unconscious repetition to conscious choice. Deep listening to individual stories of immigration experience.


4. Listening to Ancestral Roots & Voices from the Field
We focused on staying in the large group and listening to each other's stories, experiences and feelings. We explored both resources/resilience and burdens/trauma carried forward in our lineage. Several themes emerged, e.g.: experience of different races; differences between generations related to immigration, and; loss of connection to the land, and more.


5. Integrating & Restoring
We pondered on: ‘What did I learn individually? What did I learn as a group? What is yet to be explored? How has this lab changed how I see things? What separated us? What brought us together?’


6. Transforming & Meta-learning
We reflected on: ‘What has begun for me in this lab? What am I letting go of? What am I bringing in?’
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Moments of Challenge

When the issue of hate crimes on Asian women in Atlanta arose, anger emerged in the lab. There was a sense of ‘othering’ the facilitators and some felt that the individual uniqueness of different ethnic groups in the lab was not being recognized. Some participants found the lab less useful if their immigrant ancestors arrived in the USA many decades ago.

MOMENTS OF GRACE

The response to the above challenges was to let go of structure and allow even more freedom for the group process to guide the facilitation. The intention here was to create a heartfelt space for sharing and exploring whatever came up. Other moments of grace came from participants themselves. Their words of wisdom, sharings and stories provided perspective and healing. Diversity of opinions helped bring perspective. Also helpful were movement and music, the sharing of photos as members entered the space, conversations amongst participants in triads, incorporating poems submitted by participants, and the in-depth listening of specific immigration stories.

INSIGHTS

We learned to trust the group process no matter what was brought forth. The importance of resourcing became evident right away, as did the importance of sitting with the pain of not belonging, and holding space for the shared experiences irrespective of where we come from as immigrants. We recognized layers to the immigration story, largely based on how recent an immigration was in question. Skin color also makes a difference to the immigration experience.

Our Lab Team

Samvedam B. Randles

Samvedam Randles

is a German psychologist who lives in the Boston area in the USA, where she founded first the Center for Body Oriented Psychotherapy and later the Inner Arts Institute, where she is the director to this day. Her work combines systemic methods such as Family Constellations with a careful internal attunement. Since 2013 she has focused on collective trauma issues and how to address them in larger groups. Samvedam has taught body oriented psychotherapy and breathwork at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has presented her work at conferences around the world. She continues to offer training and supervision circles for therapists and other professionals in the Healing Arts. Since participating in the Pocket Project, Samvedam has been pioneering new ways to utilize systemic constellation work in service of understanding and clearing collective trauma patterns.

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Susan Belchamber

Susan Belchamber

has woven a unique blend of work in international trade and economics with social psychology and consulting throughout her diverse career. Holding graduate degrees in International Relations/Economics and Psychotherapy, Susan has had an extensive career in government (USTR and GAO), as an international trade consultant in the UK, as well as in private practice based in neurotherapy, coaching and group facilitation. Susan’s current work focuses on facilitating personal integration of collective and intergenerational trauma, with specific focus on healing trauma around money, envisioning new economic possibilities, and supporting post-traumatic growth. A community-builder at heart, Susan is deeply involved in issues related to social justice and exploring ways to build a more equitable and sustainable world by refocusing on what we truly value.

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Deepa Awal

Deepa Awal


is an educator and coach with her own practice specializing in discerning the fundamental ways in which our ‘way of being’ supports or hinders our dreams and goals. She has been studying Thomas Huebls teachings for the past four years. What began as an interest in Vedanta and personal growth has grown into what is now her contribution in the world – transformational work with individuals and groups. Starting her career in the corporate world with developing executives, Deepa now has her own practice specializing in coaching women and leaders with cross cultural backgrounds. Her personal experience as an immigrant from India informs her coaching with cross-cultural coaching clients. She speaks fluent English and Hindi, lives in Philadelphia and has two adult daughters. She teaches meditation practices, yoga, centering skills and coaches graduate students at Universities to develop leadership skills and build self-confidence. As an educator, she instructs and mentors professionals who desire to develop coaching skills both at Fielding University (Faculty) and Newfield Network (Program Coach).

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Facilitators: Samvedam Randles, Susan Belchamber and Deepa Awal; trainees: Tamara Pearl, Sean Culman, Nancy Jane
Language: English

An exploration of the impact of immigration to the US on individuals, families and the collective. The history of the United States has been marked by an underlying history of displacement and separation. This country has been largely founded by immigrants, most fleeing from hardship. In addition, both Native and African Americans have historically been forced, violently against their will, to move from their homelands. Collective trauma has journeyed alongside, since for everyone living in the U.S., displacement rests in our very roots – if not coming from our direct personal experience, then still living within our DNA. Whether chosen or not, our ancestral story is one of leaving home. The goal of cultural assimilation and belonging has not been fully possible, in a large part due to this underlying archeology of unacknowledged trauma that permeates our culture and produces deep “blind spots” which necessitate both awareness and reconciliation. This Lab hopes to explore this archeology, help us become trauma-informed participants in this U.S. culture, and contemplate future paths towards integration and healing.

We will be exploring

  • What constitutes the historical background to the U.S. immigration and displacement experience?
  • What factors of collective trauma impact the archeology of this experience and the possibilities of “belonging”?
  • How has the less-than-fully acknowledged role of slavery and genocide left a lasting imprint on U.S. culture?
  • What elements of language, identity, and discrimination make ‘othering’ of immigrants a reality in the US?
  • How does the United States, as a host country, inhibit the upward mobility of immigrants (e.g. in economic, and social domains)?
  • How does immigration affect cohesion/fragmentation of a nation?
  • What impact has this history and archaeology had on the unrest and polarization currently on display in the U.S?
  • What attributes of resilience show up for immigrants in the U.S. across cultural backgrounds?
  • How can we, as trauma-informed participants in the current U.S. landscape, create a space of exploration, acknowledgement, and witnessing to help integrate the fragmentation and expand the potential for collective resilience?

Participants are asked to commit to

  • Be present for the duration of the cycle of the Lab (please see the dates below)
  • Be present for introductory calls to basic competencies (or to watch the recordings), especially should you be new to this field of work
  • Show up with mindfulness and authenticity and explore questions like:
    • How have my ancestors participated in this trauma?
    • What do my ancestors have to teach about resilience?
    • How does this intergenerational trauma and resilience live in me?
  • Ensure to be free from the influence of drugs.
  • Assume confidentiality – all personal sharing within this Lab will be kept confidential and names of other participants will not be shared, nor will they be described.
  • Assume self-responsibility for your health – this Lab does not provide therapy or treatment.

Max. group size: 50

Time: Thursday evenings from 7.30 – 9 pm EST (Please check here to find the time in your location)

Dates: 19 Nov, 10 Dec 2020, 7 Jan, 28 Jan, 18 Feb, 11 Mar, 25 Mar, 8 Apr, 22 Apr, 13 May 2021 Ending: 3 Jun 2021

Specifically invited: Participants with diverse U.S. immigration experience.

Lab Team

Samvedam Randles
is a German psychologist who lives in the Boston area in the USA, where she founded first the Center for Body Oriented Psychotherapy and later the Inner Arts Institute, where she is the director to this day. Her work combines systemic methods such as Family Constellations with a careful internal attunement. Since 2013 she has focused on collective trauma issues and how to address them in larger groups. Samvedam has taught body oriented psychotherapy and breathwork at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has presented her work at conferences around the world. She continues to offer training and supervision circles for therapists and other professionals in the Healing Arts. Since participating in the Pocket Project, Samvedam has been pioneering new ways to utilize systemic constellation work in service of understanding and clearing collective trauma patterns.

Susan Belchamber
Susan Belchamber has woven a unique blend of work in international trade and economics with social psychology and consulting throughout her diverse career. Holding graduate degrees in International Relations/Economics and Psychotherapy, Susan has had an extensive career in government (USTR and GAO), as an international trade consultant in the UK, as well as in private practice based in neurotherapy, coaching and group facilitation. Susan’s current work focuses on facilitating personal integration of collective and intergenerational trauma, with specific focus on healing trauma around money, envisioning new economic possibilities, and supporting post-traumatic growth. A community-builder at heart, Susan is deeply involved in issues related to social justice and exploring ways to build a more equitable and sustainable world by refocusing on what we truly value.

Deepa Awal
is an educator and coach with her own practice specializing in discerning the fundamental ways in which our ‘way of being’ supports or hinders our dreams and goals. She has been studying Thomas Huebls teachings for the past four years. What began as an interest in Vedanta and personal growth has grown into what is now her contribution in the world – transformational work with individuals and groups. Starting her career in the corporate world with developing executives, Deepa now has her own practice specializing in coaching women and leaders with cross cultural backgrounds. Her personal experience as an immigrant from India informs her coaching with cross-cultural coaching clients. She speaks fluent English and Hindi, lives in Philadelphia and has two adult daughters. She teaches meditation practices, yoga, centering skills and coaches graduate students at Universities to develop leadership skills and build self-confidence. As an educator, she instructs and mentors professionals who desire to develop coaching skills both at Fielding University (Faculty) and Newfield Network (Program Coach).


Apply for this lab now!

Applications for this lab are now closed due to high interest.