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Young Asian students holding on to their culture: Their messages for teachers

Sara Lee and Maria Dacre

Aotearoa New Zealand is home to diverse ethnic groups. Discussions with students about their own cultural identity are important to recognise and include our diverse student communities within schools. For adolescents, developing their identity, inclusive of their culture, is fundamental at a time when these young people are striving to figure out who they are. When students feel that schools recognise and welcome their culture and identity, they are more likely to engage their whole selves in academic tasks. This article reports on a small qualitative research study involving 10 Asian secondary school students. The findings demonstrate students’ valuing access to cultural activities, highlighting the critical influence of language, food, cultural ornaments, and upholding the familiar traditions of their culture; all of which contribute positively to students’ cultural identity and wellbeing. The article outlines suggestions for practical application of their views for teachers and school communities are included.

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