Being, Belonging, and Connecting: Filipino Youths' Narratives of Place(s) and Wellbeing in Hawai'i
Gran-O'Donnell, Stella M.
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Environmental climate change is an urgent concern for Pacific Islanders with significant impact on place along with bio-psycho-social-cultural-spiritual influences likely to affect communities’ wellbeing. Future generations will bear the burden. Indigenous scholars have begun to address climate-based place changes; however, immigrant Pacific Islander populations have been ignored. Although Filipinos are one of the fastest growing U.S. populations, the second largest immigrant group, and second largest ethnic group in Hawai’i, lack of understanding regarding their physical health and mental wellbeing remains, especially among youth. This dissertation addresses these gaps. In response to Kemp’s (2011) and Jack’s (2010, 2015) impassioned calls for the social work profession to advance place research among vulnerable populations, this qualitative study examined Filipino youths’ (15-23) experiences of place(s) and geographic environment(s) in Hawai′i. Drawing on Indigenous worldviews, this study examined how youth narrate their sense of place, place attachments, ethnic/cultural identity/ies, belonging, connectedness to ancestral (Philippines) and contemporary homelands (Hawai’i), virtual environment(s), and how these places connect to wellbeing. Methods: Innovative, multiple, triangulated methods were employed to investigate primary research questions. Indigenous Methodologies (IMs), Filipino IMs, community participatory research, and feminist narrative inquiry offered culturally robust and grounded understandings of youths’ narratives. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 Filipino youth/young people. Feminist narrative methods (i.e., Gilligan’s Listening Guide) were adapted; “I” and “We” Poems enhanced findings to purposefully underscore individual and collective worldviews. Findings: Three overarching themes emerged: 1) Places as sites of wellbeing; 2) People make place; and 3) Spatial connections are associated with special places. Also salient were reciprocal, relational interconnectedness and interdependence between humans and nature, and Filipino cultural values: kapwa (shared identity), respect, gratitude (utang na loob), and responsibility to give back to ancestors and forward to future generations. Mentoring, socializing, and socialization processes were also significant. Conclusions/Implications: Findings from this inter-, transdisciplinary study will contribute to: 1) place and geographies of wellbeing literature among Island-dwelling populations; 2) development of culturally grounded positive youth development, environmental, and place-based health interventions for Filipino youth; and 3) policy development to better meet needs of increasing numbers of Filipinos and other Island-based Indigenous and immigrant communities with similar experiences.