Christian Faith in the Immigration and Acculturation Experiences of Filipino American Youth




immigrant, Filipino American, Christian faith, acculturation, immigration


The Filipino immigration experience began in the Philippines via American-modeled schools and Spanish-enforced Christian Catholicism. However, that may not be the case for Filipino youth. The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of Christian faith in the immigration and acculturation of Filipino American youth. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 5 Filipino American emerging adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. Interview data went through 3 levels of coding and themes; several themes were developed. Results show that Christian faith was a powerful factor in acculturation experiences for Filipino American youth. The modeling of faith was pivotal in helping them navigate through difficult childhood experiences and in some cases mental health problems. Modeling of faith also largely determined participants’ own commitment to religious practices, such as attending daily mass or becoming part of a church organization. At a community level, Christian faith helped participants to establish community ties, which helped ease their transition into mainstream American culture. Based on the results of this study, Christian faith is an important coping factor for Filipino American youth. Christian faith allowed participants to feel a greater sense of connection to each other and to make connections with others in the United States. Christian faith shaped participants’ outlook on their lives and their day-to-day activities.

Author Biography

M. Gayle Gabriel, Texas A&M University

Dr. Gabriel earned her PhD in Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences with focus on Youth Development from Texas A&M University. Dr. Gabriel is a senior research associate for the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, where she works on youth participatory action research curriculum and training development.

Dr. Gabriel’s research focus includes equity in research and programming for youth of color (emphasis on Filipino American youth), the role of cultural and ethnic identity in youth behaviors and youth mental health, recreation and leisure.



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