June 16, 2009

Dalton State College faculty contribute to book on Latino immigration

Submitted by Dalton State College

Seven past and present Dalton State College faculty members and two community members have contributed to a book published by the University of Tennessee Press which highlights the realities and challenges faced by Latinos who have immigrated to Dalton.

“Voices from the Nueva Frontera: Latino Immigration in Dalton, Georgia” is a combination historical impact study and oral history focusing on both the challenges and successes of Latino immigrants living in the Northwest Georgia mill town and surrounding environs.

“We hope that this book accurately reflects the experience of Latino immigrants who have moved to Dalton,” says Don Davis, professor of sociology and one of the book’s four editors. “Each chapter contains facts and statistics about Latino immigration to the area, and each one also contains a first-person narrative of an individual who has relocated to Dalton over the last few decades. The book’s featured voices include Juan Garcia, Francisco Palacios, Adrian Gandara, Joana Sandoval, Amisadi Amaro, Sandra Benitez Crow, Adriana Barragan, Maria Fraire and America Gruner.”

A book signing will take place on Thursday, June 25, at 4 p.m. at City Hall in Dalton. Copies of the 216-page hardback book will be available for sale.

“One of the purposes for writing the book,” says Davis, “was to include lessons that we as a community have learned from this experience. There are many steps that towns in America can take if they are experiencing an influx of immigrants. These programs and activities make the transition easier for everyone concerned.”

Davis mentions the creation of teacher exchange programs, English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, and the establishment of recreational soccer leagues as proactive steps to ease the sense of isolation and anxiety that many Latino immigrants face when adapting to the American culture.

The book, divided into four parts, focuses on the economic impact of immigration, Latino culture, education issues and the social problems that frequently arise when a large influx of immigrants migrate to rural America.

“Voices from the Nueva Frontera” contains nine chapters which are authored by the book’s four editors and five other contributors. In addition to Davis, the editors include Tom Deaton, professor emeritus of social science; David P. Boyle, dean of the School of Social Work; and Jo-Anne Schick, former director of the Georgia Project. The other contributors include Roschelle Bautista, assistant professor of Spanish; Ken Ellinger, associate professor of political science; Aref Hervani, who formerly taught economics at Dalton State; Monte Salyer, assistant professor of ESL; and Father Daniel Stack, a priest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church during the late 1990s.

Amazon.com describes the book as one which “sheds new light on the often invisible changes that have transformed this North Georgia town over the last 30 years.”

“Each chapter ends with an interview of a worker, student or other professional involved in the immigrant experience,” the review continues. “These narratives add human faces to the realities of dramatic change occurring in rural industrial towns.”

All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to a scholarship fund for Latino students who are enrolled in Dalton State College’s School of Social Work.