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The voyage of cultural transition : adjustment issues of Chinese-speaking foreign-born students in a social environment where they form the largest cultural group in a secondary school setting Minichiello, Diane Betty

Abstract

This study investigates the adjustment experiences of 23 Chinese-speaking foreignborn students in a social climate where they form the largest cultural group in a secondary school setting. The study's objectives were to determine initial adjustment issues, to examine adjustment issues of international and satellite students as sub-groups within this population, to identify students' lived experiences concerning racism and discrimination; to identify adjustment concerns subsequent to graduation and to examine student perception of Canada's multicultural policy. Ethnographic interviews were conducted over a four-week period. Data were subsequently categorized into 14 different categories: Agency, Chinese Population Concerns, Comparing Education Systems, Cultural Considerations, Current Adjustment Issues, ESL Program, Facilitating/Hindering Issues, Friendship/Peer Relationships, Initial Observations and Concerns, Language, Mental Health Issues, Multicultural and Assimilation Issues, Racism and Discrimination, and Satellite and International Students. Adjustment issues were divided into two main categories: those pertaining to the large numbers of Chinese-speaking foreign-born students and those that are independent of their large numbers. Issues that seem to stem directly from the large numbers of Chinesespeaking foreign-born students are language development, developing friendships outside the Chinese cultural group, assimilation/integration issues, and EAL program concerns. Language, peer relations, cross-cultural concerns and education and the school environment are the adjustment issues identified in this study. Satellite student results, further divided into satellite and full-satellite categories, produced somewhat different findings. While mental health issues began to emerge in the satellite category, they overrode the adjustment concerns of full-satellite students. Students do not identify racism and discrimination as adjustment issues though they are part of their everyday lives. Students were aware of Canada's reputation as a multicultural country and understood the concept of cultural pluralism. Most students could see the benefits of this policy to them as Chinese-speaking foreign-born students. Some students felt the policy was good for Canada; others did not. Recommendations included reviewing the current provincial EAL Policy in view of the changing demographics in some of British Columbia's school districts, placing a priority on identifying/addressing the needs of satellite students and increasing funding to develop and implement a more comprehensive program concerning racism and discrimination.

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