Grade 11 psychology students are currently studying the topic of acculturation— a process that individuals undergo when they are adapting to a new culture, including all the psychological changes that come with it.
To discuss some specifics regarding acculturation, according to psychologist John Berry there are 4 acculturation strategies individuals can develop based on their relationship to their old and new culture: Integration is when individuals maintain behaviors from their old and new culture equally, Separation is when norms from one’s old culture are maintained but they reject those of their new culture, Assimilation is when individuals discard their own culture and take on the norms of their new culture entirely, and Marginalization occurs when both the original and new cultures are rejected.
To help us better understand this topic, Mr Tri and Mr Tan visited the class to share their experiences of acculturating to the United States of America, after having moved there from their home country of Vietnam at a very young age. Including different factors that affected their acculturation process.
The first concept that came up which connected to our psychology class was an “Acculturation gap” which is the generational differences in acculturation, generally within the context of a family. In relation to this, Mr Tri shared how he and his younger siblings were more enthusiastic about joining clubs and sports teams as compared to his older siblings, helping them to have a faster acculturation process.
The second concept would be Acculturative Stress, also known as Culture Shock. This is where individuals feel like they are not part of the group that they want to belong in, which can lead to anxiety and depression. We related this to Mr.Tan’s anecdote regarding his first experience with American holidays such as Easter and Halloween as these were not as celebrated in Vietnam. Mr Tan felt incredibly confused and curious at the ways that these celebrations were celebrated, especially at how people painted eggs and hid them. Another concept that came up was Reverse Acculturation Stress, where an individual feels disconnected from their own “original” culture, exemplified by what Mr Tan discussed in relation to the unfamiliarity he felt during his trip back to Vietnam to visit his family.
After hearing Mr Tri and Mr Tan’s feelings and perspectives on acculturation, their input helped us as a class to better see how our theoretical knowledge in Psychology could be applied, and how our studies could relate to real life.
Many of those in our class who have multicultural families also found themselves relating to Mr Tri and Mr Tan’s feelings about how acculturation can often make one feel “torn” between two worlds.
A big thank you to Mr. Tri and Mr. Tan for giving us an opportunity to learn more about not only about their experiences, but also ourselves!
— Dear & Jajaa (G11)