Female Arab Students’ Experience of Acculturation and Cultural Diversity upon Accessing Higher Education in the Northern Galilee-Israel

Brenda Geiger


This qualitative study addresses the issue of the cultural transition of Arab women who for the first time leave their secluded villages and traditional society in the Northern Galilee to access Western-style Israeli institutions of higher education located in the region in which they will study in Hebrew, their second language. This study uses several models of acculturation in order to better understand these women’s experience of acculturation, cultural diversity, ethnic identity and at times discrimination as they come into contact with students belonging to a diversity of Arab and Jewish ethnic groups. Content analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with 42 female Arab students of Druze, Muslim and Christian origin, revealed that parental and/or husband support, lower college admission requirements, and the geographical proximity of the colleges to the villages allowed gave these women the opportunity to access higher education without compromising their traditional values of modesty and virginity. Hebrew language proficiency, seldom spoken in the villages, and consequent academic self-efficacy perception were for these women key factors for academic success and integration in the dominant Israeli socio-economic structures. Lack of tolerance for cultural diversity, discrimination, and inter-groups conflict were at times, reported not only between Arab and Jewish but also between Druze and Muslim students and/or their instructors. Factors mentioned to be reducing cultural shock and acculturative stress were the presence of other female Arab students from the same or neighboring towns studying in the college and the going back and forth between cultures as these women returned every day back home to their villages. Exposed to other values and traditions these women sorted the values they cherished in their own and in other cultures while maintaining a strong sense of cultural identity.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v2n3p91


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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online)

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