Missionary kids' repatriation narratives

Date
2008-08
Authors
Collier, Amy M.
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Abstract

This dissertation outlines a qualitative research inquiry into the repatriation narratives of Missionary Kids (MKs). The purpose ofthis study was to give voice to MKs in order to acknowledge their repatriation experiences. The focus of this study was MKs, as a subset of a larger population of Third Culture Kids (TCKs ). The rationale for this study's focus on the repatriation experiences ofMKs stems from an interest in the specific contextual factors that may influence MKs' repatriation. These contextual factors include the national context (interactions with host country), organizational context (policies, rules, structure established by the sponsoring organization), and the religious context (Ritchey & Rosik, 1993). The researcher elicited narratives from 19 MKs at several universities in the United States by asking the MKs to write their repatriation stories. The researcher also conducted phoneor Skype interviews with 9 volunteer MKs and with 2 faculty sponsors of MK organizations at universities. The MKs' repatriation stories, interview transcripts, and the researcher's reflexive journals were analyzed through hermeneutical processes. The researcher added rigor to the study through data triangulation, employing memberchecking and rich descriptions to the study. The findings of the study indicated that two key experiences of repatriating MKs are longing for the host country and discovering cultural differences/taboos between the home and host countries. Those experiences are often accompanied by sadness/depression or mixed feelings. During their repatriation experiences, MKs fmd support from other MKs, from their spirituality, and from parents. Though MKs typically re-acculturate quickly, many continue to struggle with the notion of home, cultural identity, and American culture. Structural analyses of the MKs' stories indicated that MKs' repatriation experiences resembled models of family adaptation proposed by McCubbin and Patterson (1982). This model emphasizes the roles of individuals' resources and perceptions of a crisis both prior to and after the crisis event. It could be concluded that MKs' repatriation experiences are often difficult, as they deal with cultural differences and longing for the host country(ies). However, as MKs rely on their support systems (other MKs, spirituality, parents), they re-acculturate to their home countries. The issues of cultural identity and notions of home remain problematic for many MKs. The findings of this study were allowed the researcher to develop implications for parents ofMKs, sponsoring organizations, universities and colleges, and family educators and practitioners.

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Keywords
Social sciences, Children, Missionary, Missionary kids, Narratives, Re-acculturation, Repatriation, Third culture kids, Individual studies, Family studies
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