Cultural Orientation needs to be more extensive

If you have wondered how much orientation to western living refugees receive before leaving camps in Asia or Africa, here is an article from a UN agency about Burmese Karen people preparing for their new lives by receiving instruction in everyday living in America. This article points out that these programs need to be more extensive and in the native language of the refugees.

Feedback on the cultural orientation sessions has generally been positive although one IOM instructor told IRIN: “I feel the programme and training is good but time is a constraint and perhaps it should be longer.”


Some of the refugees, while appreciating the programme, felt the period for studying English was insufficient and some complained that the DVDs were not in the Karen language.

But, in light of the on-going controversy in Waterbury, CT, I’m thinking those Karen people resettled there may have already learned some western ways and have spoken up.  Go back and read about them here (esp. see Ya Za and his tape recorder) and then you will laugh at this quote.

“We find the Burmese refugees don’t want to make waves … it’s part of their culture to keep their problems within the family,” Salinkowski told IRIN. “So sometimes when a problem arises, they don’t tell the resettlement agencies about it and they go for months without dealing with the problem.”