Essential arrival

Focus Series film by Dr. Arifa Javed educates American students about the Indian diaspora

Jordan Weston, Staff Writer

On Friday, Feb. 11, from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Zoom, the SCII Focus Series screened “Essential Arrival: Michigan’s Indian Immigrants in the 21st century.” The film is directed by University of Michigan-Dearborn professor, Dr. Arifa Javed. The screening was co-sponsored by the SCII Focus Series, Student Activities and the Asian Student Association and was a GlobalEYEzers event. The film was about educating American students about the Indian diaspora here in Michigan highlighting topics such as Indian cultures, traditions, religions, and the hot button issue of immigration.

“Essential Arrival” is a documentary that attempts to spark conversation about immigration by focusing specifically on Indian immigrants. The film shows various Indian families who have moved here to America as they talk about their own experiences moving from India to the United States and their lives. The families shown to talk about living in America have brought many changes to their culture. Things such as arranged marriages are no longer so common as the culture has moved past those ways here in the United States. The next generations live a drastically different life from their parents, and “Essential Arrival” shows the audience how that affects the various families.

While changes to their culture and religion bring about some debate and are not without issues, some families are shown to be ok with or encourage this progression to an ever-evolving culture.

The film also seeks to highlight the impact that Indian immigration has on the American economy. With the STEM field growing faster than ever before with no signs of ever slowing down, Indian immigrants are coming to America educated with several degrees in the STEM fields. Coming educated and prepared according to the documentary, Indians hold a disproportionate number of STEM degrees which is the primary driving force here in the United States.

“Essential Arrival” takes time to interview various law experts and sociology explaining the current state of immigration and what it looks like for cultures moving forward.

Despite the numerous interviews from both families and experts, the film lacks a perspective from someone who isn’t Indian. It would have been interesting to see how other immigrants feel and native citizens of the United States. The film also presents a few interviews with people still living in India. While perspective is given by those who have immigrated into the United States from India, it would have been interesting to get a primary source from people living in India today. This would have served to understand better more perspectives than just those who have immigrated.

Overall, “Essential Arrival” stands as an informative piece that highlights the hot issue that is immigration and is sure to spark in-depth conversations on the various cultural and religious aspects of this issue and how people are reacting to it. While it may have made for a more controversial film, it would have been even more attractive to get multiple perspectives on immigration.

How does the general United States citizen view immigration? What are the average citizens’ take on Indian culture? What misconceptions are there? “Essential Arrival” certainly leaves the viewer more informed; it presents a relatively narrow view on issues it intends to bring light to.

For more events related to the Winter 2022 Focus Series theme Global Education go to All events are held on Zoom and are free and open to the public.