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What is Acculturation?
There are two definitions for acculturation:
• “a process of adaptation to new conditions of
Teske Jr., 1974).
• “changes that occur in members of a minority
group in contact with another dominant culture” (Shute,
The first definition is acculturation in the broad sense while the
second is more relevant to the immigrant experience. Immigrants must
go through acculturation, but they cannot do so alone. Volunteers provide
help and guidance through the process. Acculturation is more than simply
learning the English language, but also understanding the history of a
new country, navigating its idioms and understanding the concepts behind
its holidays. Acculturation is the integration of a country's cultural aspects
into the lives and practices of immigrants. Acculturation is a means
to reform the old bonds, broken by immigration. The volunteers that immigrants
come in contact with provide much needed assistance in reaching these goals.
Why is acculturation an important concept for the survival and prosperity
While it is important that the cultural practices of the
immigrant community are kept intact, it is imperative that immigrants
learn the culture and traditions of their new home. In learning about
American traditions, they have a means by which to reach out to those
around them and form new friendships. The volunteers that immigrants interact
with play a large role in the acculturation process. Volunteers are the
ones that immigrants will most likely gain an understanding of the new
A volunteer and her student
from the International Rescue Commitee.
Alex and his student celebrate their achievements.