WORKING STRATEGIES OF COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS AIMED TO REALIZE IMMIGRANTS’ SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING AS A WAY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF SOCIO-CULTURAL INTEGRATION. Aistė Bartkevičienė 1 , Vilma Žydžiūnaitė 2 1 Šiauliai university (LITHUANIA) 2 Vytautas Magnus university (LITHUANIA).
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WORKING STRATEGIES OF COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS AIMED TO REALIZE IMMIGRANTS’ SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING AS A WAY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF SOCIO-CULTURAL INTEGRATION
Aistė Bartkevičienė1, Vilma Žydžiūnaitė2
1Šiauliai university (LITHUANIA)
2Vytautas Magnus university (LITHUANIA)
Constantly ongoing migration encourages the development of discourse on immigrant integration, with the object of such discourse focused on the problems of immigrant integration and the search for ways to solve them. Scientific analysis of sources indicates that immigrants who come to a new country face the problems of socio-cultural integration: a language barrier problem (Esser, 2006; Maydell-Stevens et al., 2007), an acculturation problem (Berry, 1986; Zapf, 1991; Zapf, 1993), a social isolation problem (Maydell-Stevens et al., 2007), the society’s negative attitude and the problems of discrimination (Espanshade and Calhoun, 1993; Horenczyk, 1996; Esses et al., 2001; Yakushko, 2009; Wilkes and Corrigall-Brown, 2011).
The scientific discourse suggests solving the problems of socio-cultural integration of immigrants through their opportunity to learn the host country's language (Esser, 2006; Adamuti-Trache, 2013), volunteer work (Handy and Greenspan, 2009; Greenspan et al., 2011), active participation in the activities of ethnic communities (Sinacore et al., 2009), and providing individual social support (Hernández-Plaza et al., 2005). However, the authors of this article assume that the key to resolution of socio-cultural integration of immigrants is self-directed learning (hereinafter - SDL), which incorporates internal and external resources necessary for rational problem solving.
Even though SDL of immigrants is substantiated by empirical research, it is fragmentary and contextual. In the context of education science, an important role should be carried out by community-based organizations seeking to solve the problems of socio-cultural integration by strategies/learning activities which can encourage immigrants to realize SDL, using a variety of learning resources. In this way, immigrants can maintain their ethnic culture, learn themselves, and teach others; deal with social problems of living in the host country; and develop their and others’ citizenship.
What strategies initiated by community-based organizations and based on learning activities encourage SDL of immigrants?
Research aim - to reveal immigrants' SDL opportunities that focus on the solution of their socio-cultural integration problems in community-based organizations.
Sample. A purposeful sampling strategy was employed. The research involved immigrants who came to Lithuania from non-EU countries and are studying in higher education, are engaged in lawful activities (working in Lithuania), or came to the country for family reunification. Interviewees had to meet the following three criteria: 1) immigrants participating in the activities and workshops for at least three months that are organized by centers for immigrants and ethnic communities located in Lithuania; 2) immigrants with temporary or permanent residence permits in the Republic of Lithuania; 3) immigrants who came to Lithuania from non-European Union countries. Thirteen participants took part in the research, with an average age of 32.4. By gender, participants included 8 men and 5 women.
Methods. Qualitative research design was applied. Data were collected and analyzed performing the methodological procedures of grounded theory. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews, which sought to understand the informants' views, opinions, evaluations and experience (Brinkmann and Kvale, 2014). The obtained data were analyzed by coding procedures. The data analysis consisted of three stages of coding: open coding, when the categories are distinguished; axial coding, when the categories are combined; and selective coding, when the central category is developed (Strauss and Corbin, 1998).
In analyzing the research data, three qualitative categories which show the working strategies/learning activities of community-based organizations became apparent, including: ethno-cultural education, social education, andcivic education.
The ethno-cultural education strategy of community-based organizations is linked with the need for events which encourage cooperation between immigrants and the host society, and the need for activities aimed at learning the host country's culture; and with the need for activities which cultivate the ethnic and cultural identity of immigrants, and which afford SDL realization possibilities to immigrants. This means that ethno-cultural education strategy encourages immigrants’ SDL, which is characterized by the solution of socio-cultural integration problems of immigrants, based on the development of multicultural competence.
The part of community-based organizations’ operating strategy that is focused on social education incorporates social problems of immigrants and their solutions, the need for study courses on the host country's legal system, need for communication, and the need for knowledge about the community of residence. In this way, social education strategy encourages SDL of immigrants through the development of social relationships, interpersonal communication with support professionals, internet programs, adaptation to achieve familiarity with the community of residence, and is not only focused on the solution of socio-cultural integration problems, but also on the actualization of learning needs.
The part of community-based organizations’ operating strategy that is focused on civic education is related to active immigrant participation in events about the host state, its society and volunteering. In the context of this strategy immigrants are seeking to gain knowledge and learn about the host country and its society, to obtain relevant information related to their lives in the host country, and to meet the needs of personal growth and development through voluntary activities. This means that the latter strategy enables immigrants to implement SDL, the primary purpose of which becomes actualization of personal learning needs, and the secondary purpose of which becomes the solution of socio-cultural integration problems.
The ethno-cultural education, social education and civic education strategies initiated by community-based organizations, which are focused on actualization of immigrants’ cultural, social, civic and educational needs are relevant in the context of immigrant integration. These strategies promote the realization of immigrants' SDL, which is characterized by the incorporation of internal resources (personal experience of the immigrant) and external resources (professional advice, mentoring, discussion groups, group tours, social networks, information technology programs, films) into the socio-cultural integration problem-solving process at the individual, collective and societal levels.
The working strategies of community-based organizations that encourage SDL of immigrants, when focused on solving the problems of socio-cultural integration, are an effective tool in policy for immigrants' education.
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