Before reading all the books we have read in the semester thus far, one would never think of how big of a role religion actually plays in the lives of immigrants. It helps unite them in a new land far away from home and also helps them cope with their everyday struggles. As the title of this chapter is cleverly called, the religious institutions really become “safe harbors”.
People come to America for numerous reasons but one of the main reasons the Fuzhounese came here was to build “a better life for themselves and their families” (Guest 195). The sad part is that they usually were met with a ” swirling vortex of a ravenous labor market”(Guest 195). This is where religion comes in as it serves as a “lifeline to others” (Guest 195). Religious communities also served as an exchange of ideas and information by providing immigrants with “employment opportunities available housing, transportation methods and location of low-cost and reliable health care” (Guest 198). It’s always a long and scary process adapting to a new place but having a place to go to where people speak your language and share your beliefs helps to speed up this process.
Why and how is this possible? The fact that people within the community try to keep certain aspects of China alive is what bands them together and helps in creating a link between the mother country and the New World.
As Guest best describes it, ” religious communities allow Fuzhounese immigrants to imagine themselves differently in the midst of a hegemonic discourse that describes them in unflattering and dehumanizing terms” (Guest 205). It gives them a chance to escape the cruel reality of sweatshops and discrimination and enter a world where they can reminisce of their family and friends in their hometown. All in all religious communities played a key role in the lives of Fuzhounese immigrants by serving as a safe haven in a new land as well as a link to their homes on the other side of the world.