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Samoan youth adapt well despite discrimination

10 June 2008

Samoan youth adapt well despite discrimination

A Victoria University study of 250 Samoan youth has found that first generation Samoan youth report greater life satisfaction and better school adjustment than their Māori and Pakeha peers—despite experiencing more discrimination.

Professor Colleen Ward, Director of the Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research at Victoria will present the results of the study co-conducted with Masters student Matthew Viliamu at the Pathways, Circuits and Crossroads Conference in Wellington from 9-11 June. Professor Ward says the results reflect the "Immigrant Paradox" found in Asian and Hispanic groups in the United States where first generation migrants have better psychological and social outcomes than native-born Asians, Hispanics and whites, despite their relative socio-economic disadvantage.

"The study also revealed that Samoan identity was strong in both first and second generation groups—but the second generation youth were less likely to speak Samoan, had better English language proficiency and had a stronger New Zealand identity," Professor Ward says.

The key research questions were designed to find out the following about Samoan youth (ages 12-19):

• How do immigrant youth live within and between two cultures?
• How well do immigrant youth deal with their intercultural situation?
• How do these intercultural and adaptation processed vary over generations?
• What is the relationship between how youth engage in intercultural relations and how well they adapt?

Professor Ward says the research supports policies and practices that encourage maintenance of traditional language and cultures.

The conference is an annual event organised by a group of research programmes funded by the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology, and sponsored by the Department of Labour and Office of Ethnic Affairs. The programme features sessions on economic and social dimensions of migration and settlement, return migration and circulation in global and local migration systems, social inclusion and wellbeing in a more diverse society, and migration and development in the Pacific.


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