Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The third culture kid in the first culture classroom: School experiences of missionary children during home ministry assignment
by Wandersee Wiemer, B. J., Ph.D., Saint Louis University, 2011, 227; 3465523
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation outlines a qualitative study that explores the educational experiences of missionary kids (MKs) during home ministry assignment (HMA). MKs are a subset of third culture kids who spend a significant part of their developmental years outside their country of citizenship as their parents serve in cross-cultural ministry. Missionary families routinely return to the United States for a mandated HMA following a specified number of years of foreign service. The MK is the most likely of all third culture kids to experience challenges when reentering the home culture.

Previous research on the MK phenomenon and reentry topics has been particularly inadequate in addressing issues regarding school-age MKs. During the HMA, the children are often enrolled in local Christian schools. The home culture teacher is not provided an adequate background on the missionary kid profile to address the MK's unique needs. This dissertation offers a new perspective to the topic by giving a contemporaneous voice to MKs in describing their experiences while attending U.S. schools during the HMA.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine MKs who attended U.S. Christian schools during a home ministry assignment before returning overseas to the host country. An analysis of the data revealed that MKs find the interim U.S. school experience to be both rewarding and challenging. Several factors were identified to enhance the experience: being socially connected to peers, attending a larger school, making academic progress, experiencing the American culture, having opportunities to share their MK experiences, attending a Christian school, and starting the new school term with their peers. The MKs further identified factors they considered to be obstacles to the experience: not connecting socially, experiencing culture shock, homesickness, having larger class sizes, having only limited use of the host language, and being constrained by ministry obligations. Results also showed that teachers had a notable influence on the experience when taking an interest in the MK, encouraging the MK to share stories, providing academic support, recognizing cultural differences and introducing the MK to classmates.

The results of this study were used to develop recommendations for Christian educators, ministry personnel, missionary parents and MKs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chittooran, Mary M.
Commitee: Grady, Michael P., Singaravelu, Hemla D.
School: Saint Louis University
Department: Educational Studies
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: DAI-A 72/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Multicultural Education, Teacher education
Keywords: Home ministry assignment, Missionary children, Missionary kid, Reacculturation, Reentry, Third culture kid
Publication Number: 3465523
ISBN: 978-1-124-77479-4
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