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Elderly Hmong in transition: Mental health, acculturation, and learning English

TitleElderly Hmong in transition: Mental health, acculturation, and learning English
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsWaller, SRose
UniversityWaller, Sharon Rose: U New Mexico, US
Accession NumberDissertation Abstract: 2002-95011-009
Keywords*Acculturation, *English as Second Language, *Foreign Language Learning, *Mental Health, *Refugees, Health Psychology & Medicine [3360], Human Adulthood (18 yrs & older) Aged (65 yrs & older), mental health, acculturation, English language learning, elderly Hmong refugees
AbstractThis study of elderly Hmong refugees focused on the inter-relationship of acculturation, mental health, and the process of learning English. The methodology was ethnographic, and was composed of the compilation of experiences and perceptions of Hmong elderly who had attended an ESL class at a mental health center. Family members, Hmong adolescents, refugee resettlement administrators, Hmong service providers, and Hmong and American mental health professionals were interviewed as well. The Hmong elderly are the most isolated and alienated members of the Hmong culture in this country. They are at a pivotal point in the integration of past, present, and future in their own lives and represent a critical juncture in the acculturation process of their culture. Their acculturation struggles were framed in six of Edward T. Hall's Primary Message Systems (PMS), which he views as the components of culture. The components of temporality, territoriality, subsistence, interaction, learning, and defense emerged in interviews as salient areas. It was determined that within the PMS, biological and informal operation predominate in traditional Hmong culture while formal and technical operation predominate in American culture, greatly affecting the adjustment of elderly Hmong to U.S. culture. The view of social reality of the elderly Hmong (including space, time, and identity) differs substantially from that of those who create and implement refugee policies. The elderly view the part that English has played in changes in social organization and family structure with ambiguity. While they say that they need and want to learn English, they also state that they are unable to learn. In this study, English was viewed as both precipitating as well as solving problems. Implications of the study for refugee resettlement policy and ESL curriculum are made, with emphasis on meeting the needs of those who are furthest from the traits and values of Western culture, and therefore more unreachable and isolated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Ethno Med: