Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dissertation Abstract -- Skills Education for Adult Tibetan Immigrants in the United States: Identification, Prioritization, Resources, and Challenges

Generally, the Global Tibetan Professional Network of North America (GTPN-­NA) considers lack of skills a problem among adult Tibetan immigrants. The GTPN-­NA is a non-­profit, volunteer-­‐based networking forum focusing on Tibetan professionals and students from North America. By skills education, it means skills that may help support the transition of adult Tibetan immigrants’ settlement in the United States.

The study utilized an online survey to collect inputs from GTPN-­NA members or fans to identify and prioritize skills that may help support the transition of adult Tibetan immigrants’ settlement in the United States and to examine resources and challenges associated with providing these skills. Though the study received a total of 228 responses, the findings were based on 125 valid responses from individuals who identified themselves as either members or fans of the GTPN-­NA. Though this response may seem small, given the GTPN-­NA’s broad definition of Tibetan professionals and their lack of clarity as to which individuals fully qualify, the response percent of qualified members may be anywhere from 12% to 60%. Individuals completed an online survey of 30 questionnaire items.

Some of the general findings of the study were: 1) survey participants placed more emphasis on the importance of oral communication, writing, listening, reading, sociability and self‐esteem skills for Tibetan immigrants and less on numeracy and integrity/honesty skills; 2) there were prevailing differences in the presentation of “should have” and “do have” essential skills for Tibetan immigrants; 3) survey participants showed strong interest in supporting skills education initiatives such as volunteering; 4) the size of the local community population matters when selecting the sites for teaching skills education programs for Tibetan immigrants and; 5) a pattern of Tibetan immigrants non-­participation in learning programs may affect enrollment in skills education programs.

Besides the general findings, three additional findings were generated from the study that may need to be addressed prior to delivering skills education programs for adult Tibetan immigrants in the United States: they were generally attitudinal. First, adult Tibetan immigrants may believe they already have sufficient skills to cope and survive in the United States, perhaps assuming the possession of skills they don’t have. Second, perceived negative attitudes on the part of adult Tibetan immigrants regarding their ability to continue learning into adulthood may interfere with learning new skills. Third, the proximity of GTPN-­NA members or fans to New York City may impact their views regarding skills education for adult Tibetan immigrants.

In addition, this study provides the GTPN-­NA leadership an initial portrait of members or fans. Based on the 125 survey participants, GTPN-NA member or fans are young, educated, first-generation immigrants, and are likely to be either male or female. Finally, skills education for recent immigrants in general seems an open field for researchers and practitioners to study and explore. 


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