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Acculturate/Adapt to a New Culture/Society

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Submitted By miawaston
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Can Kim's (2005) model explain how forced migrants (refugees难民 and asylum seekers避难者) can acculturate/adapt to a new culture/society 适应新文化

(see Witteborn, 2011 on forced migrants)? Why? Why not?

To answer the question, Kim’s model can explain how forced migrants can adapt to a new culture. In Kim’s (2005) theory, cross-cultural adaptation refers to a dynamic process of human evolution that tend to struggle for an internal equilibrium in the face of often adversarial environmental conditions. In some cases, adaptive successes may entirely depend on the positivity of the stranger’s personality. According to Witteborn (2011), forced migrants (asylum seeks and refugees) are not only defined as excluders in “discursive spaces” in the society, but also people do not have the choices but constructs themselves in certain social environment. In her interviews, it is seems that some of refugees have presented how they tried to adapt to the society in a series actions and practices. However, they failed and they still enact and practice their communal identity through “prism of being a refugee”. Thus, it is difficult for them to overcome the problem sited on the severely unreceptive host environment. Kim’s (2005) theory also emphasized that the both of individual cultural background and the new condition of environment plays important role in facilitating of impeding adaption process. Asylum seeks and refugees, as a special group of people, are difficult to achieve a successful adaptation in the host society.

The theory further argues that, as we keep our sight on the goal of successful adaptation in the host society, we experience a gradual personal identity transformation—a subtle and largely unconscious change that leads to an increasingly intercultural personhood. Although our old identity can never be completely replaced by a new one, it can be transformed into something that will always contain some of the old and the new side by side, to form a new perspective that allows more openness and acceptance of differences in people, a capacity to participate in the depth of intellectual, aesthetic, and emotional experience of others.

In the end, the viability of a theory rests on the reality to which it is directed. To the present theory, the reality is the unfolding of experiences and accompanying changes in countless individuals who, at this very moment and at all corners of the world, are striving to forge a new life away from their familiar grounds. There is no denying that crosscultural adaptation occurs, and this theory simply affirms this reality. The real choice left for us, then, is the degree of change that we are willing to undergo and embrace. By refusing to change, we can minimize the change. By accelerating our adaptive efforts, we can maximize it.

The asylum seekers gain a voice by engaging in virtual advocacy and highlighting the interrelationships between protection and risk. The testimonios told in public spaces like citizen forums and community centres or asylum shelters might fade away over the course of time. However, the ones recorded
Downloaded by [Chinese University of Hong Kong] at 22:56 19 March 2012 in virtual space have the potential to remain visible to a general public. Thus, they can help the public gain insight into what it means being an asylum seeker, become projection spaces for identifying with the stories, and give advice and affirmation of what it means being an asylum seeker to other forced migrants.
The website created by asylum seekers in Hong Kong has these purposes.5 The testimonios, which are virtually available are more than just stories appealing to empathize with asylum seekers or pity them. The testimonios call for accountability through such questions as, ‘Who is responsible for my questions? Who is going to answer them?’ (Admin 2010). Therefore, one could say that the main foci of the testimonios in virtual space were accountability and appeal for solidarity with asylum seekers.

Dependency on advocacy organizations related to refugee matters does not enable asylum seekers to achieve public attention on their own terms. The advocacy organizations, not the asylum seekers, had the power to initiate the recording and publication of their testimonios. This observation relates to the question of access to the narrative situation and who is allowed to speak, when and how. As the study suggests, asylum seekers and
Downloaded by [Chinese University of Hong Kong] at 22:56 19 March 2012 refugees were able to tell their stories mostly because organizations or I as a researcher enabled them to do so.

asylum seekers and refugees are not passive recipients of welfare or charity. They can take the role of social activists by pointing to problems that are common for forced migrants in many countries, and sometimes even to their solutions.…...

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