Culture Learning in Community: Burmese Refugees and the Meaning of Home
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According to the U.S. Refugee Processing Center (RPC), over three million refugees have resettled in the United States since 1975 (U.S. Dept. of State, 2018). The purpose of this research was to obtain a deeper understanding of what refugees learn through their cultural experiences as they adjust to their new surroundings. Viewed through the theoretical lenses of acculturation and cultural fusion, this ethnographic study focused on the culture learning of 24 Burmese refugees who resettled in the United States and are current homeowners residing in Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods.
Research findings showed that Burmese refugees in this study adapted and learned best within a community setting. This research documented how they transitioned from lives in their home country and refugee camps to new kinds of shelter, food, language, employment, and transportation in order to satisfy their basic needs. Included are stories and pictures depicting their understanding of the meaning of home, the radical difference in the world they came from to the one they encountered in the U.S. through the physical buildings that shelter them, the gardens that surround them, the family and neighbors they interact with, and the nostalgic tug of their native homeland. Further, study findings showed that the theory of culture learning can expand outside the realm of international college students by identifying the context through which refugees learn through acculturation and cultural fusion.