Date of Graduation

Fall 12-13-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies

Department/Program

International Studies

First Advisor

Dorothy Kidd

Abstract

One of the most significant refugee populations in the United States is the Vietnamese. This group initially fled their native country to escape political oppression at the conclusion of the Vietnam War in 1975 and continued to flee in a series of separate waves that continued for more than three decades. As a relatively new immigrant group in the U.S., the Vietnamese still face a variety of challenges as they try to reestablish their lives and adapt in a new cultural environment. Acculturation is a complex process that is influenced by a number of factors. Throughout history, U.S. immigration policy has significantly affected the admission and adaptation of refugees. As shifts in the ideological frameworks, economic demands, and attitudes towards the rest of the world occurred in the twentieth century, which eventually brought the liberalization of immigration policy, this influence slowly decreased. This allowed for factors in the domestic political, economic, and social environments to become more powerful in affecting how refugees adapt in the U.S. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become integral aspects in both assisting and complicating the acculturation process for refugees. These technologies are helping Vietnamese refugees culturally adjust in American communities as well as maintain ties with their native culture; thus, illustrating the multifaceted nature of acculturation. However, the impact of ICTs is not uniform across all of the different waves of refugees who fled from Vietnam. This study demonstrates that interaction and communication are key aspects in cross-cultural adaptation and the importance of media in contemporary everyday life.