Approximately 6,000 Marshallese reside in Springdale, Arkansas. This resident group comprises nearly 10% of the city’s population and is the second highest concentration of Marshallese people globally. Many left their island homelands for a number of reasons: lack of employment, lack of educational opportunities, and lingering radiation due to nuclear testing.
Given the extant pressures in the Marshall Islands, the population in northwest Arkansas is expected to increase steadily over the next decade. However, due to economic pressures to find work and their lack of proficiency with English, few within the Marshallese community pursue higher education and many encounter limitations in job promotion. The community suffers from a range of illnesses, including cancer and diabetes, and has limited access to healthy food choices. The general population of Arkansas is unaware of the challenges facing Marshallese residents.
While all these factors contribute to their marginalization, Marshallese in Arkansas maintain an enthusiasm for cross-cultural dialogue and aspire to become more educated and achieve a higher standard of living so that they may participate in the broader social, cultural, economic, and political networks that directly impact their everyday lives.