“I am The Hyphen!”
18-year-old Jose blurted out these words when labelled as a Mexican-hyphen-American. “When Mexicans learn I was born in Minnesota and don’t speak Spanish, they say ‘You’re not one of us’. And Americans can’t stop asking me where I’m FROM. The only part of Mexican-hyphen-American that really describes me is The Hyphen!"
While Jose knew that his first-generation immigrant parents genuinely loved him, he felt constant pressure from them to be more Mexican. At the same time there was an unspoken rule at his high school that one had to fit in to be accepted. His family and friends were simultaneously sources of support and pressure. Jose felt isolated and fragmented. He preferred interacting with his closest friends online to constantly failing to please those around him. He embraced The Hyphen as a symbol of his angst.
Over 400,000 second-gen immigrants from 90 ethnicities make up 12% of the population of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Their equally diverse first-gen immigrant parents make up another 12%. While many resources exist for Americans and first-gen immigrants, few truly understand the needs of Hyphenated young people like Jose.
WE’VE BEEN LISTENING
The multi-ethnic leadership team of Global Youth Interchange has spent years listening to and serving second-gen immigrants like Jose, as well as resourcing their families and American friends to build better relationships with them. We encourage these young people to Be The Hyphen by embracing their second-gen identities, and resource their families and American friends to more fully Love The Hyphen.
WE'RE GETTING INVOLVED
Many voices across the Twin Cities have asked for help in connecting with Hyphenated young people like Jose. In response, Global Youth Interchange was launched in February of 2020 by a coalition of ethnically and denominationally diverse churches. We aim to connect with Hyphenated young people by blogs, social media, videos featuring second-gen voices and face-to-face gatherings. We believe that the greatest hope for second-gen young people is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ and his church. Being history’s only God-hyphen-human, Jesus understands and accepts these young people just as they are. His church is at its best when it embraces The Hyphen like Jesus does.