To date, little research has been conducted on the family and community influences on the attitudes to education and career aspirations of Hmong/Mong high school students. The Hmong / Mong refugees began their resettlement in the United States since 1975. The first wave came to the U.S. from 1975 to 1984; the second wave came here from 1985 to 1999; the third wave came from 2003 to the present time. The Hmong/Mong were a pre-literate ethnic minority people living in the highland areas in the northern part of Laos. They were recruited to fight the secret war in Laos and were admitted to resettle in the United States for their loyalty to the American government during the Vietnam War.
The purpose of this qualitative ethnographic study was to examine the family and community influences on the attitudes to education and career aspirations of Hmong/Mong high school students in the Twin Cities and its surrounding areas. The research questions which drove this study were: What is like to be a Hmong/Mong student at home and in the Hmong/Mong community? What are the influences on the education of Hmong/Mong students? What are the attitudes of Hmong/Mong students toward their education? What are the educational aspirations of Hmong/Mong students? What are the career aspirations of Hmong/Mong students? The literature review included an exploration of these influential and career aspirations factors.
The research design included a series of in-depth interviews with fifty-two Hmong/Mong participants ages fourteen to twenty-two years old, male and female, northern and southern Hmong/Mong, different religious affiliation, and members from eleven clans. The data were collected between the months of December 2007 to July 2008. All interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. The interviews were in both Hmong/Mong and English. The transcripts were done by four individuals who are competent in both Hmong/Mong and English. Transcripts were analyzed for themes. Based on this analysis, results of the study were formulated. The findings of this study included the following items:
(What is like to be a Hmong/Mong student at home and in the Hmong/Mong community?) (a) Constant lecture is a means of communicating expectation for Hmong/Mong students; (b) Family continues to be the main source of influence on Hmong/Mong students' education; (c) The family past and current hardship is a tool to influence Hmong/Mong students' education; (d) The Hmong/Mong community hardship and their underdog status are a tool to influence Hmong/Mong students' education;
(What are the influences on the education of Hmong/Mong students?) (e) Positive connection with specific key teacher or counselor or administrator at school has positive influence on Hmong/Mong students' education; (f) Positive support network of peers influences and increases Hmong/Mong students' success in education; (g) The U.S. education system is perceived as excellent and it influences and increases Hmong/Mong students' academic success; (h) Positive self-esteem, pride, and strong character influence Hmong/Mong students' education; (i) After school programs and supportive programs increase Hmong/Mong students' success in education;
(What are the attitudes on Hmong/Mong students toward their education?) (j) School is important to Hmong/Mong students; (k) Success of others influences Hmong/Mong students' education;
(What are the educational aspirations of Hmong/Mong students?) (l) Hmong/Mong students have aspiration to move up their socio-economic status; (m) Hmong/Mong U.S.-born adolescents assimilate faster and become more individualistic; (n) Hmong/Mong culture is a source of resilience to Hmong/Mong adolescents; (o) Recent arrival Hmong/Mong students have high aspiration to continue school after high school;
(What are their career aspirations?) (p) First generation Hmong/Mong adolescents have high aspiration in diverse career choice; and (q) Parental involvement has positive impact on Hmong/Mong adolescents' education and career choice.
This study concurs with the Voluntary and Involuntary minorities' model of John Ogbu. The Hmong/Mong's experience in the U.S. education falls into the Voluntary Minorities category of John Ogbu. This study has crucial implications for policymakers, who are responsible for policies and programs that directly or indirectly affect the Hmong/Mong students' education; other groups that bear the implications of this study include postsecondary administrators, secondary administrators, families, advocates, individuals, and those for future research.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: Work, Community, and Family Education. Advisor: Theodore Lewis. 1 computer file (PDF) xi, 267 pages, appendices A-E.
Thao, Nealcheng Xeng.
Examining family and community influences on the attitudes to education and career aspirations of Hmong/Mong high school students..
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