Online Program

Welcome home: An ethnographic study of burundian refugees resettling in dayton, Ohio

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Colleen Quinlan Saxen, MPH, Public Health, Wright State University, Dayton, OH
Cristina Redko, PhD, Center for Global Health, Department of Community Health, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Kettering, OH
Jacqueline Housel, PhD, Department of Geography, Miami University, Oxford, OH
Research on refugee health increasingly emphasizes the significant impact of post-displacement stressors, particularly those of a social nature, on the health of resettling refugee populations. Informed by Goodkind's practice of “mutual learning”, this ethnographic study focuses on the social support experiences of Burundian refugees resettling in Dayton, Ohio. As such, this research investigates the nature of perceptions that Burundian refugees and local supporters had about each other and how this hindered or aided offers of material and social support. In addition, it illustrates how “mutual learning” can build understanding and sound relationships necessary to protect the long-term health of refugee populations. This study draws upon participant observation research conducted over an eighteen month period in the neighborhoods, homes and churches where the Burundian families lived as well as interviews conducted with individuals offering support to the Burundian refugees. The study found that the level of material aid, care and local outreach for the Burundian refugee population was present and growing. We found that in instances where Burundians rejected the support offered, misunderstandings and limited perceptions among Burundians and local supporters damaged the relationships, impeding the success of support. Meanwhile, instances where support was accepted were rooted, at least in part, on mutual learning among Burundians and local supporters. Mutual learning can be an important, yet infrequently studied component for re-creating a sense of home in a new country through the rebuilding of social support and belonging.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate how social support can be a barrier or enabler of the health of refugees resettling in the United States Describe the connection between perception, social support and relationships. Explain how mutual learning improves the quality of social support of refugees resettling in the United States

Keyword(s): Refugees, Community Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I have been developing research focusing on the health of refugees living in Ohio for the last 3 years. I have also trained and supervised the first author throughout the development of the ethnography.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.