The Process of Refugee Resettlement and Adjustment: Hmong Refugees in Madison, Wisconsin
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The specific Tefugee group of this project is the Hmong of Laos; more specifically, a small sample of those who have settled in Madison, Wisconsin. The refugees with whom I spoke had all been farmers in Laos; many are living in the same low income housing project and none told me of any strong desire to return, permanently, to Laos. Their educational levels are varied; some speak English, some do not; some are happy a few depressed. But all have a strong desire to continue some aspects of Hmong culture. The most important aspect of a successful resettlement for the refugee, psychologically, occupationally, and educationally, appears to be the maintenance, to some degree, of the traditional clan structure of Hmong society, as the refugees experienced it in Laos. Thus, the first of the following "chapters" offers a brief account of Hmong history in an effort to demonstrate the strength of the clan social system which the refugees are often asked to give up upon their resettlement in the United States. The further sections look into national state and voluntary agency policies in an effort to demonstrate the importance of the local, personal programs to resettlement success. But at the same time, it is shown that many major refugee policy decisions (e.g. quotas) are made in Washington as aspects of often irrelevant (to the refugee) foreign policy decisions. This results in refugees being brought to the United States without appreciation or understanding of their unique cultural and historical situation. Ultimately, they are subjected to legislation designed from foreign policy goals and domestic necessities, rather than refugee welfare. Tension develops between a state or city's perceived self-interest and what Washington views as rational foreign policy. And finally, prior to the conclusion, there is a brief section which deals with the actual experiences of some refugees in the resettlement process. In this part, the role and influence of the refugees' historical cultural system is analyzed to a degree.
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