|Description||The purpose: The purpose of this study was to provide Latinas in Des Moines an
opportunity to describe their lives to others: their families, Latinas who followed in their
footsteps, and those in the Des Moines community concerned with fairness and
opportunity for all.
The problem: The study described the lives of Hispanic women living in Des
Moines, Iowa and included the Latina's views of problems and opportunities living in
Procedures: Twenty-four Latino women who were over the age of 17 and who
had been in the area for over two years were interviewed with a fixed set of five
questions. The interviews were transcribed, coded. and findings developed.
Findings: Decisions to immigrate were often tortuous, but even more of a
challenge was the issue of learning a new language and culture. The Latinas had to
overcome cultural differences, find employment, raise their children, and deal with
discrimination and a way of life that they only faintly understood. But they maintained
both a strong identity as Latinas as well as the ability to adapt to their new environment.
Conclusions: Latinas were restrained by language. culture. and discrimination and
worried about their children's adaptation. The local community did not recognize their
contributions. especially the labor they provided. but also largely unrecognized were their
contributions to the ethnic diversity of that growing city. Latinas added ethnic foods,
festivals, music, and maybe most of all their determination to make it in America.
Despite adversity. however, most Latinas saw success in their effort to make Des Moines
Recommendations: More opportunities for learning English needed to be made
available as well as centralized location for immigrating Latinas to be able to find useful
information about laws, how to attain citizenship, and an array of issues critical to
emigres . Finally. cultural exchanges with the non-Latino community needed to be made
available to enhance the life of all.||en_US