Here we are – it’s officially summer 2019 and we are on the cusp of finishing the LGP academic work for our DMin degree. It’s hard to believe we have only one more travel advance with the George Fox/Portland Seminary LGP program. This fall the program will culminate for the LGP8’s with a trip to London and Oxford (a new destination for me) and yet again I will need to be on high alert “look right, look left” as I navigate the landscape with drivers on the left side of the road. As British colonization has influenced culture around the globe (including South Africa and Hong Kong), the London advance will solidify all that we’ve learned the past 2 ½ years. The texts this week, CultureShock! London and CultureShock! Great Britain are part of a bestselling series (over 3 million sold) of “culture and etiquette guides” providing information and guidance on language, food, social customs, festivals, relationships, transportation, finances, health, shopping, et al.
Through Royal watching I already feel connected to the United Kingdom – after all the United States is now represented in the royal family (and so is the profession of social work since Meghan (Markle), The Duchess of Sussex “mum” Doria Ragland is a licensed social worker in California). While saying I’m connected to the UK is a bit tongue in cheek, the beliefs and biases I already have about the country are heavily influenced by media coverage – royals, Brexit, lovely accents, and tea and wine drinking. It’s also important to discern what the differences are between United Kingdom (UK), England, and Great Britain. My research tells me that all three names are used interchangeably (not appropriately), however the accurate description follows: “To start with, there’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The U.K., as it is called, is a sovereign state that consists of four individual countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Within the U.K., Parliament is sovereign, but each country has autonomy to some extent. For the most part, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments defer to the U.K. Parliament in “reserved matters” that deal with things like foreign policy and EU membership, but retain authority over “devolved matters” that deal with things like education and housing.” These distinctions are confusing for sure to the lay person!
If you’re still following me after all those technical definitions, stay tuned! I intend to delve into the core of my research and share about the differences in how the United States and the United Kingdom have dealt with refugee acceptance and resettlement (speaking of culture shock!). To have an appropriate context, however, I need to share more demographic information about the land mass and population of both countries.
In layman’s terms, the entirety of the UK is slightly smaller than the US state of Oregon. In land mass the UK is 241,930 sq km (93,409 square miles) vs. the US land mass of 9,147,593 sq km (which is 3,531,905 square miles). The US is MUCH larger – both with land and people. In a population comparison, the US stands at 326,625,791 (July 2017 est.) vs. the UK at 64,769,452 (July 2017 est.). Now that the stage is set demographically, the refugee statistics should make more sense – according to UNHCR, The UN refugee agency – from January 2019 to April 2019 there have been 7,506 refugee departures to the United States vs. 1,869 refugee departures to the United Kingdom. Because of the significant size discrepancy between these two “nations” (the UK is one fifth the size of the US per population), comparing the refugee acceptance numbers as “apples to apples” is actually non-comparable. By non-comparable, I’m referring to the criticism from some who say the UK is not accepting as many – or enough – refugees when compared to the US. When you do the stats, the UK is actually accepting a larger (only slightly, but still larger) percentage of refugees per capita, which is the most fair and accurate way to analyze statistics.
How is life in the UK for the resettled refugee? From reading the UK policies on refugee acceptance and resettlement, their intentions are pure… “The UK’s resettlement schemes offer a safe and legal route to the UK for the most vulnerable refugees, and purposefully target those in greatest need of assistance, including people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of violence and torture, and women and children at risk. The UK works closely with UNHCR to identify those living in formal refugee camps, informal settlements and host communities who would benefit most from resettlement to the UK. Apart from the criteria set for each scheme, the UK does not seek to influence which cases are referred by UNHCR.” Just like in the US, the UK people are divided on their beliefs and sense of moral responsibility to accept and resettle refugees. The most significant deterrent for the UK people to be open to refugee resettlement is the sense of cultural difference of refugees and the perceived impact of those differences economically and in safety and security of the country. Research indicates that if a person holds an “assimilationist view” (the belief that the refugee must fully assimilate in the culture and language and reject their original culture) they exhibit a significant anti-migrant bias. On the flip side, if a person has a growth mindset (belief that “human beings can develop, evolve and adapt to new circumstances or contexts over time”) they are likely in favor of refugee resettlement.
I choose to have a growth mindset (honestly I believe that it is organic to my nature). How about you? I challenge you to embrace a growth mindset and to influence those in your sphere to have one too. After all, God speaks extensively throughout the Bible on the concept of growth…
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4: 13-16