Multicultural Competence and Identity in Young Immigrants and Refugees in Oslo and New York City – Challenges and Assets
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This research project is aimed at providing insight into the life worlds of 16 young immigrants and refugees currently residing in Oslo and New York City, specifically into how they see themselves in terms of multicultural competence and identity related to their cross-cultural
experiences. Their stories reveal that individual acculturation cannot easily be put in a simple box, model, or theory, since human development is much more complex than that. Yet there are some indications that the interviewees of this study have some challenges and assets as well as some identity issues in common, suggesting that there could be some support for expanding Third Culture Kids (TCK) theory to include Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs) in general. However, more research is needed before one can start to apply the term “CCK theory”. Second, this project researches the validity of some assumptions that the educational program FLEXid is founded on. FLEXid aims at helping young migrants currently living in Norway reflect on who they are, learn about which skills they may have, and help them deal with their challenges and make choices about their lives. These assumptions are first, that the concept of TCK can be applied to young immigrants and refugees in general, renaming them CCKs. The study gives some support for this expansion. Second, children who move cross-culturally often struggle with cross-pressure, which is far from true for all of the participants of this study. Third,
a program that allows for reflection of one’s multicultural experiences is useful in that it can give greater awareness of one’s identity and competence. This seems to be a particularly relevant assumption in both Oslo and NYC, since few of the interviewees had thought and/or talked in depth about their multicultural experiences, and especially their assets. Many also lacked an awareness of this before the interview. Also, since the methodology of FLEXid is based on supporting individual reflection and not on giving answers, it should be relevant for a diverse student group. Thus, the basic assumptions of FLEXid come across as valid in both settings, although voluntary participation would be necessary to avoid ascribing a forced identity. Further research is needed before transferring the program to NYC, since there are many more factors that influence the success of a program than the ones that have been studied in this thesis.
The findings of this study should be valuable to both the majority and the minority population, to teachers and students, to the field of research as well as to parents. Allowing a more resource oriented focus on the life worlds of the new national citizens into public discourse as well as into classrooms would benefit society in that it would help expand everyone’s worldview and thus the growing into effective world citizens for all.
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