Award Recipients of the 2020 Online Undergraduate Research Symposium Focus their Work on Improving the Health of Congolese Refugee Women
Two award recipients of the 2020 Kent State University Online Undergraduate Research Symposium are Rebecca Jindra and Jordan Smith. Both of these students are pursuing degrees within the College of Public Health.
Their project was titled ‘A Qualitative Exploration of Newly Resettled Congolese Refugee Women Beliefs on Family in the United States.’ This study focuses on exploring the cultural beliefs regarding family among Congolese refugee women, with a goal of better understanding how to help these refugees after arrival to the United States. Here is a brief overview of their work, including a description of the background for this work, the methodology used, and their findings:
The notion of family is highly regarded within the Congolese culture. Unfortunately, natives of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are fleeing their own country in search of asylum, often having to leave behind the family they value. Over 2,000 refugees from the DRC have resettled in Ohio since 2002. The majority are women; many have experienced loss of possessions, bouts of trauma, and familial separation in pursuit of a safer life. This study aimed to gain knowledge of cultural beliefs held by Congolese women in relation to family. Qualitative data was gathered via translator-assisted in-depth interviews with refugee Congolese women (n=20). Three overarching themes emerged: 1) The Importance of Togetherness, 2) Supporting One Another, and 3) Disciplining Our Children. These findings identified culture-specific tools to minimize stress and provide better support to Congolese women and their families as the face issues resettling in the U.S.
Undergraduate award recipients Rebecca Jindra and Jordan Smith are part of a larger research team studying newly resettled Congolese women in the United States. Additional members of this research team consist of graduate students Parishma Guttoo and Richa Gairola. This research team is lead by Dr. Kamesha Spates who oversees the Racial Justice Health Equity Research and Education Collaborative at Kent State University. This collaborative consists of many students from various academic backgrounds.