The Long-Term Process of Cross-Cultural Adaptation among Vietnamese in Ireland: Researching an Old Phenomenon in a New Context
The long-term effects of migration to Ireland are not part of a wide-ranging public debate across Irish society despite its social importance. Consequently, the study of a group of refugees who have adapted to Irish society for over 20 years is highly relevant to the changes taking place in Ireland today. In 1979 212 Vietnamese refugees arrived in Ireland drawn from both Malaysia and Hong Kong. There was little experience regarding settlement of refugee groups or discussion of long-term adaptation in a society where social homogeneity was considered to be the norm. As Irish society has changed rapidly since then, it is timely to examine the process of cross-cultural adaptation by members of the Vietnamese community and its implications for Irish society. Narrratives of lived experience were created from 17 interviews with members of the community. This paper will focus on aspects of their adaptation to Irish society from the initial encounter to present contact. Making friends inside and outside the community depends on language skills and opportunities for encountering Irish people. 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, fears of language and cultural loss and the creation of identity in the host society. Finally, there are implications for the host society in how it considers its emerging ethnic or minority groups in a more diverse, and potentially multicultural society.
Keywords: Cross-Cultural Adaptation, Intercultural Identity, Ireland, Migration, Refugee, Vietnamese
Dr. Vera Sheridan
Lecturer, School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University
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