Empathy in Isolation: Lived Experiences of Teachers of Refugee Children


We conducted a phenomenological study of responses to open-ended questions by teachers of refugee children that have been resettled in the United States, Michigan. Three primary themes emerged from responses: value in empathic, reciprocal relationships; increased system capacity through programming/resources; and meaningful impact from professional development. Teachers were empathic advocates, often experiencing isolation and supported by limited resources. We apply themes to identify perceived effectiveness of advocacy as a structural mechanism used in belief formation within a sociocultural-self model. Based on Giroux, we conclude with recommendations for flexible, individualized programs that provide socioemotional support by engaging multiple systems through sustained professional development.

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Correspondence to Adam Scott LeRoy.

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LeRoy, A.S., Boomgaard, S.L. Empathy in Isolation: Lived Experiences of Teachers of Refugee Children. Integr. psych. behav. 55, 430–443 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-019-09508-0

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  • Empathy
  • Phenomenology
  • Refugee
  • Resettlement
  • Lived experience