issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

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issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

Acculturation experience37today’s world, their daily routines have becomemore complex, demanding and often conflictive(Darvishpour, 1999; Raijman & Semyonov,1997). The maintenance of traditional gendervalues within Latin American immigrant familieshave then compounded the challengesencountered in Australia due to the accumulationof duties without any kind of support fromfamily, friends or childcare services.The Compounding Effects of the AcculturationChallenges on Women’s LivesAs a result of the conditions andexperiences encountered while adjusting toAustralia, participants experienced limiteddegrees of integration to the broader Australiancommunity. Frequently, feelings ofhomesickness and perceived social distancebetween host and immigrants’ values andculture, limited skills in English anddiscrimination episodes worked as influentialfactors impacting on the acculturationoutcome. Apart from that, the combination oflow levels of education, lack of childcareservices, and limited family and social supportdeeply impacted on immigrants’ availability tolearn the host country’s language, a key factortowards integration:I don’t feel integrated 100%. Youreally have to spend time withEnglish-speaking people, beintegrated. But I feel there isalways a barrier, maybe because Ididn’t work in anythingprofessional. It’s like you feellimited, you can enjoy theAustralian day but you know youwere not born here, and my kids,although they were born here, theydon’t feel it either (Laura)My own adaptation was verydifficult, because you have thelanguage barrier, and also thefact that I couldn’t finish with myeducation. That was reallydifficult to me. On the other side,it’s the adaptation process toanother culture. I foundAustralians and their culturemuch colder than us, that kind ofcoldness that you don’t know howto brake into. Now it’s different.Although I don’t feel integrated Ifeel 100% adapted (Mara).Despite adjusting to Australian life, mostwomen were feeling socially separated from thebroader community, regardless their level ofEnglish, labour outcomes or motivation tointegrate. The feeling that Australian mentalitydoes not absorb and integrate immigrants’background and life stories as part of thenational picture was a frequent comment. Manyindicated that, although they worked towardstheir own integration process, they often did notfeel accepted as equal members of theAustralian society:My adaptation happened withtears of blood. Because theydon’t accept you, even if youspeak the language and you area citizen. It was hard (Dora)Until today, 30 years later,people still ask me “what do youdo? When did you arrive? Whydid you come?” It makes youfeel that you never belong to thisplace! Here I feel like they havea second thought when they askme that, like… “and when doyou leave? (Elsa)Until today I say that I amadapted and not. Slowly westarted getting into the society,slowly…slowly. I do all that isnecessary here and goeverywhere. But I don’t stopthinking about my things inArgentina, my friends, the music,the barbecues and all our food,…our things… I’m here and Icry! I’m there and I cry!…it’ssomething that you can’t get outThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 20 No 2 December 2008

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