Page 15

THE FIL-AM COURIER • MARCH 1-15, 2016 • PAGE 15

N urturing I dentity D evelopment :

By Daniel B. Eisen, PhD Pacific University

Identity development is a complex process. It involves many stages that individuals may experience throughout thei r lives. Although we often view identity as deeply personal, our identities are inherently social because they are exhibited in a public setting. Showcasing our identities in public brings them into conversation with others, who might be at different stages of developing a very similar identity. Therefore, the complexity of identity increases as one’s identity development stage may not align with another’s stage of identity development creating tension and disagreement between the individuals. Filipino identity development is a great exampl e of thi s. Psychologist and FilipinoAmerican scholar Kevin Nadal articulates what he calls the Pilipino Identity Development Model. Aligning with research on the colonial mentality, he argues that many individuals experience an “assimilation to the dominant culture” stage, where the individual privileges Western culture over Filipino culture. Many scholars argue that this stems from Filipinos’ history

A Step in Cultivating Communities “When individuals and a community can simultaneously grapple with the difficult questions of what it means to simultaneously be American, Filipino, and from Hawaii, a sense of pride in being Filipino can be developed while bringing more segments of the Filipino population into active involvement with the community.”

with colonization and the social settings in the United States and Hawaii that worked to place Filipinos on the fringe of society. While many individuals do not leave this stage, Nadal also identifies an incorporation stage, where the individual takes pride in being Filipino, but also sees how Filipino culture and Western culture can inform one another. It has been argued quite regularly that education can help one overcome their shame in being Filipino and help them develop a pride

in being Filipino. Recently, I published an article with a couple of colleagues that took a critical look at educational programs that attempt to teach young adults about being Filipino. Our research suggests that these educational programs definitely helped individuals become more proud to be Filipino and assert a Filipino identity. However, in doing so it also led many individuals to question their Filipino background and develop a tension being

Filipino, Filipino-American, and local Filipino. It is important to note that this tension is often a necessary step in the identity development of Filipino young adults. Our research, however, shows the importance for continued education and nurturance of the development of a Filipino identity in additional classes and in broader society. If these individuals’ identity development is not continuously nurtured, they will continue to be proud of being Filipino, but will

understand being Filipino in a very singular way. This singular definition of what it means to be Filipino creates tension between different generations and segments of the Filipino population. Further nurturance through open dialogues about being Filipino and celebrating Filipino culture publicly will help nurture these individuals into Nadal’s incorporation stage. In this stage, individuals see how Filipino culture can inform an American culture and vice versa. It is in this stage that individuals are truly making sense of their Filipino identity, rather than adopting another prepackaged way of understanding what it means to be Filipino. When individuals and a community can simultaneously grapple with the difficult questions of what it means to simultaneously be American, Filipino, and from Hawaii, a sense of pride in being Filipino can be developed while bringing more segments of the Filipino population into active involvement with the community. Our recently published article can be found in the second issues of the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity, which can be accessed for free at  https://www.ncore.ou. edu/en/jcscore/

Dr. Daniel Eisen grew up in Ewa Beach and graduated from Campbell High School before attending Pacific University, Oregon to earn his BA in Sociology. After living in Oregon for four years, he returned to Hawaii to earn his PhD in Sociology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his doctoral work examined young adults’ development of a Filipino ethnic identity in Hawaii. Daniel Eisen is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Profile for Thefilam Courier

March 1 2016 issue  

MICHAEL SANA MILKEN Educator Awardee 2015-2016

March 1 2016 issue  

MICHAEL SANA MILKEN Educator Awardee 2015-2016

Advertisement