Sisters Find Home in Utah After Somali Civil War Made Them Refugees

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The article explains how two teenage girls moved to the United States as refugees from Somalia. Their parents were killed when they have been still little girls at some stage in the civil war in Somalia. Fatuma Abdullahi and Maryan Osman found a secure home with Annie and Randall Johnson. Maryan is 15 years old whilst Fatuma is fourteen (Sisters Find Home In Utah After Somali Civil War Made Them Refugees 2017). It was not effortless for the young girls to modify to the American way of life considering Somalia has a definitely different culture. Besides, it was no longer for the young couple to become parents to two teenage girls. Annie who is only 28 years admits that the learning curve has been quite steep.
The Adjustment Issue
The article focuses cultural adjustment. Moving to the United States can be a very stressful experience. Everything is different from the landscape, weather, language, food, values as well as customs. This period of adjustment is commonly known as culture shock, and the degree of shock is dependent on the difference between the home culture and the host culture. The degree of difference between US and Somalia is big meaning that the girls' culture shock was extensive. Annie explains that they have worked very hard to learn each other’s language. She recalls how difficult it was to teach a saying in America such as ‘beating a dead horse’ and Maryan asked her what was the point of beating a horse that is already dead. Annie recalls a point in time that Maryan was overwhelmed about her past and would experience panic attacks at school. Panic attacks are an example of symptoms of culture shock.
Evidence-Based Strategies
Cultural shock happens to every immigrant group as they try to integrate into a different culture. Cultural shock is a significant source of interpersonal stress because of the multicultural nature of the United States society which creates cross-cultural conflicts and immersions. Cultural shock is an important factor in a foreign culture, and it should be dealt with effectively (Santrock, 2006). It requires one to recognize the occurrence of the shocks and implementation of the appropriate behaviors in order to overcome cultural shocks with the right adaptations. When one is aware of the nature of shock and the distinctive reactions, he or she can easily establish constructive interventions. The evidence-based strategies that can be used in cultural adjustment include appraisal-focused, problem-focused as well as emotion-focused strategies (Santrock, 2006).
Coping with Stress
Coping refers to the process of spending conscious efforts to solve both personal and interpersonal issues. Therefore, coping with stress relates to mastering, minimizing and tolerating with stressors that happen in everyday life. Appraisal-focused strategies involve modification of the thought process that is associated with stress (Santrock, 2006). Fatuma and Maryan could change the way they think about the US culture by approaching it differently or altering their goals as well as values. For instance, Maryan finds the neighbors very quiet and feels like they are living alone in the neighborhood. Rather than looking such neighbors as unfriendly, Maryan could look at them as tired from working all day long and since they want to rest they minimize the level noise. On the other hand, problem-focused strategies aim at dealing with the stressor or the cause of the problem (Santrock, 2006). Fatuma and Maryan can research on the problems they are experiencing as they try to adapt to new schools, new people, and new neighborhood and learn about skills they require to cope with the same. Finally, emotion-focused strategies involve addressing the feelings that are associated with the stressor (Santrock, 2006). That way, the two girls can modify their emotions that accompany the stress perception by managing their mental state.
Coping Abilities
The ability to cope with stress that is brought about by adjustment varies among people depending on gender, age and culture. Annie describes Fatuma and Maryan as confident girls since they were not nervous when they first approached her. That means that the two girls have a positive demeanor and outlook on life (Santrock, 2006). That way, they have the ability to handle stress when it arises. Besides, the girls have experienced so much while they were still young such as losing their parents and living in a country without peace (Sisters Find Home In Utah After Somali Civil War Made Them Refugees 2017). This may help them in adjusting to the American culture. The panic attacks that Maryan is experiencing is evidence that she had a traumatic childhood. Therefore, America provides the girls a comforting environment in which they can manage their stress.
Fatuma and Maryan are adjusting to a different culture in the US after having a difficult childhood in Somalia their original country. They are teenagers and have found a home with the Johnsons. They have to experience culture shock because Somalia culture is quite different from that of the US. However, they can adopt such strategies as appraisal-focused, problem-focused as well as emotion-focused strategies to cope with stress associated with cultural adjustment. Since research shows that women are prone to stress relating to interpersonal relationships, adopting emotional-focused strategies would be the most appropriate for the girls.

Santrock, J. W. (2006). Human adjustment. McGraw-Hill.
Sisters Find Home In Utah After Somali Civil War Made Them Refugees [Audio file]. (2017, April 7). Retrieved from

August 09, 2021

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