Non-religious and religious minority international students at an evangelical university : politely ignoring what is positively uncomfortable
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This qualitative study sought to discover how non-religious and religious minority international students negotiate the overtly religious aspects of their experience at an evangelical Christian university and what acculturation attitudes and strategies are revealed. Through semi-structured interviews, students discussed preconceived ideas about Christian universities coupled with personal accounts of their university experience. The comments specific to religion were evaluated according to J.W. Berry’s four acculturation attitudes/strategies of assimilation, integration, separation, and marginalization. Separation, in the form of politely avoiding or ignoring religious topics and activities, was the dominant acculturation attitude and strategy of the students. Most students focused primarily on their identity as students although the ubiquitous evangelical mindset was often uncomfortable and unavoidable. Evangelical universities must pay careful attention to the non-religious and religious minority international student experience regarding religion in order to enhance the students’ overall acculturation and their persistence towards graduation.
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