Diversity - The Old in the New: Tracing the Long-Term Process of Cross-Cultural Adaptation among Members of the Vietnamese Community in Ireland

By Vera Sheridan.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Diversity in modern Irish society has been characterised as a sudden and novel experience demonstrated by a greater presence of visible difference, encounters with different cultural practices and demographic change mapped in the 2002 and 2006 census. It is timely to examine such stranger-host relations with the Vietnamese community who have an experience of the cross-cultural adaptation process stemming from 1979 when 212 Vietnamese refugees arrived in Ireland in 1979 drawn from both Malaysia and Hong Kong. They were the third group of ‘programme refugees’ to arrive in Ireland, after 530 Hungarians following the 1956 revolution and 120 Chileans in 1973. As most of those two groups had left Ireland there was little experience regarding settlement of groups or discussion of the implications of long-term adaptation in a society where social homogeneity was considered to be the norm. Placed in its historical context, this paper will focus on aspects of the cross-cultural adaptation process through narratives of lived experience by members of the Vietnamese community who arrived from the refugee camps or as part of the family reunification process. Social network indicators at group and individual level are examined to see their effects on integration in terms of education, the creation of friendships and social mixing at work. At the same time as this process of finding ways into the new society, there are other factors that produce a tension with integration into the new society. Such tension surfaces around issues of heritage language maintenance particularly with regard to the second generation. of whom there were 200 by 2000. Fears of language loss are linked to cultural loss and the creation of identities in the host society. Finally, there are implications for the host society in its consideration of emerging ethnic groups in a more diverse, and potentially multicultural society.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural Adaptation, Integration, Intercultural Identity, Language Loss, Heritage Language Maintenance, Vietnamese Refugees

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.303-310. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 529.251KB).

Dr. Vera Sheridan

Lecturer, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland

Currently, I Chair and teach on an interdisciplinary undergraduate programme, the BA in Contemporary Culture and Society and supervise doctoral students whose research approach is also interdisciplinary. Previously, I taught language and intercultural studies on under, postgraduate and Foundation programmes. I have worked in Europe, the Middle East and Southern Africa teaching and lecturing in English. Recently, I was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Wuhan in China. My interdisciplinary research developed from observation of adult learners of English who had come to Ireland fron Vietnam and China as part of family reunification. From an applied linguistic approach I moved to a more interdisciplinary approach rooted in an intercultural framework to research in the Vietnamese community in Ireland. My interests at present are: relationships between language, culture and society, second language learning, culture and academic discourse, bilingualism, intercultural marginality, language planning in multicultural societies, citizenship and identity in multicultural societies, literatures in English, inclusion in education.

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