Refugees’ Perspectives on Cultural Adaptation and Education of Their Children: Myanmar Refugee Mothers’ Story

Boo Young Lim, Myae Han, Shin Ae Han, Jiyeon Lee, Vickie Lake


This qualitative study explored Myanmar refugee mothers' perceptions and experiences of social and cultural capital use for their children’s education and cultural adaptation while resettling in the host country, the United States. The multiple sources of data were collected and triangulated, including a parent survey, individual interviews with three mothers, a focused group interview with a group of mothers, and meticulous field notes. The findings revealed three prominent themes of social and cultural capital use among Myanmar refugee mothers: education as hopes vs. concerns, language as an opportunity vs. disappearance, and community as social capital vs. social distance. The Myanmar refugee families engaged in complex negotiations for each capital as they supported their children’s education and cultural adaptation. Refugee mothers strived to utilize their past experiences as well as cultural and social resources, such as their home language, nurturing relationships, and networking with fellow ethnic mothers, to provide diverse social and cultural capital for their children. This study offers valuable insights for teachers and policymakers when considering the successful integration of refugee children and families into current school systems.

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Copyright (c) 2023 Boo Young Lim, Myae Han, Shin Ae Han, Jiyeon Lee, Vickie Lake

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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