ERIC Number: ED334323
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr-5
Reference Count: N/A
Barriers for Teenage Refugee Women's Education in the United States: A Comparison of Hmong and Mien Hilltribe Women.
Walker, Wendy D.
The concept of adolescence as a period during which certain kinds of behavior are to be expected has become institionalized in the American education system; acceptance of this "rite of passage" creates barriers for adolescent female refugees from the Hmong and Mien hilltribes of Laos, whose cultures do not include the concept of adolescence. Adolescence is a middle-class American concept describing young people who are no longer children but who do not work. Attending school is the adolescent's primary social task, and American educators have constructed barriers against early parenthood, early marriage, and dropping out. However, Hmong and Mien tribal cultures require females to marry as soon as possible, raise children, and work in the home. Case studies of two refugee adolescent women, one Hmong and one Mien, illustrate the following cultural differences and their implications: (1) schooling for females, central to American adolescence, does not exist in either culture, promoting fade out behavior among refugee females torn between school and family obligations; (2) group identity and kinship structures eliminate any sense of independence or "self," strong characteristics of American adolescents; (3) survival is a cultural priority reflected in early marriage and large families, both regarded as socially deviant in American adolescents; (4) females have no right to challenge male authority or to develop self-esteem, one of the primary tasks of American adolescents. Day care, flexible scheduling, and innovative programs would help these young wives and mothers complete a secondary education. A list of eight references is appended. (FMW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Mien People
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, April 1991).