Refugee Resettlement in a Multi-Ethnic Society Part 1 by Felipe Cofreros Ph.D.

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The focus of this descriptive analysis is on the organizational framework of the largest Cultural Orientation (CO) project in the world implemented by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC), which was contracted by the United States Department of State, Bureau for Refugee Programs, to conduct refugee resettlement education in Bata-an, the Republic of the Philippines for Indo-Chinese refugees bound for resettlement in the United States of America. From 1980 to 1990, ICMC/Philippines provided Cultural Orientation to a quarter of a million Indo-Chinese refugees. This inquiry establishes and clarifies what were some of the assumptions which contributed to the conceptualization of CO program instruction for adult Southeast Asian refugees intended to help the refugee achieve positive adjustment to life in the United States of America. The salient questions addressed in this research are: (1) What is overseas refugee education? (2) How is it constructed and conceptualized? (3) How is it practiced and implemented? and (4) Can the Philippines Refugee Processing Center serve as a model for preparing refugees to live in a Western multi-ethnic society? Postulated in the analysis are the strengths and weaknesses of the following elements staff training and development, educational theory, and refugee resettlement. Hypothesis testing of selected program elements and replication design of the locus of the program leading to conceptualization of refugee education include: selected cases studies, surveys (statistical and quantitative), policy review and analysis, personal interviews and legal opinions. The findings of the field-based research support the original hypothesis that certain operational concepts of American Cultural Orientation (CO) were “dysfunctional” and “incompatible” with the goals of preparing Southeast Asian refugees for successful adjustment to living in the United States of America. Moreover, the findings will be useful to U.S. Government officials, educators, researchers and refugee resettlement professionals who will consider the value of this study from the perspective of naturalized American citizen whose country of origin is the Republic of the Philippines. Felipe Cofreros, Ph.D.

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