|The International Institute of Lowell
Imagine finding yourself in a strange new place.
You sold everything for a chance at a better life in a new country and
all that you own is in the bags resting at your feet. You are not
familiar with the language, customs or laws. What you wish for is
a friendly face... a friend to help you get started. For 75 years,
the International Institute of Lowell has been that friend, helping immigrants
adjust to life in their new home.
International Institute Movement
The International Institute of Lowell is one
of many International Institutes across the country. The first International
Institute began in New York City in 1910 as an experiment by the newly
organized National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association.
The YWCA at this time recognized that the demographics of its constituency
had shifted. The earlier immigrants served by the "Y" were of Protestant
background. By the beginning of the century, however, there was an
increase in the arrival of non-Protestant immigrants. It was felt
that these particular women would be more willing to take part in the activities
of a non-religious organization. In order to serve these new immigrants
and not conflict with the religious mission of the YWCA, International
Institutes were separately formed.
The driving force behind
this movement was a young social welfare and settlement worker named
Edith Terry Bremer, who understood the needs
of the immigrant. Educated at the University of Chicago and a veteran
of the Chicago Women's Trade Union League and the Immigrant Protective
League, Bremer was recruited in 1909 by the National Board of the YWCA
to direct the agency's work with immigrant women and girls. She envisioned
the International Institute as a service oriented agency designed to protect
immigrant women, address their problems, and