Sergio De Peña


Education: Majoring in human development and family science

McNair Project: The Role of Religion in the Resettlement of Christian and Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar (2021)

Mentor: Joyce Baptist, Ph.D.

Christians and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar are forced to flee and find refuge abroad due to their religious practices. Previous research has shown the impact compelled displacement has on refugees and their mental health. Research has also proven the efficacy of religion/spirituality in aiding refugees in coping with adversities and oppression. This study used a deductive analysis to understand two groups of refugees in a Midwestern town in the United States (U.S.). The goal was to further understand the Christian and Muslim (Rohingya) religion and how it was used to adjust to their new environment. Findings from interviews with 40 refugees from Myanmar show experienced acute posttraumatic stress and how religion was used as a form of coping with stress. However, the Christian group was overt in how their faith was instrumental to their ability to resettle in the U.S., while the Muslim group was covert in how their religion helped foster a sense of community. These findings suggest that religious faith could be a significant source of strength and factor for building community for refugees as they integrate into the larger U.S. society.