Chinese were early settlers in Australia but little has been written of Australian-Chinese men now living in the twenty-first century, some of whom can trace their lineage, in the Australian context, across centuries. The focus here on this demographic was because of personal involvement with the lives and culture of Australian-Chinese people domiciled or linked to the Sydney region.
The question was how has a cross-cultural context effected the patterns of life long learning and the identities of Australian-Chinese men born between 1915 and 1945? All forty-three participants were retired Australian-Chinese men, who were either born in Australia or immigrated here, mainly as young people. The research explored their learning, formal education, adaptation to another culture, and identity development. A mixed methodology was used to ascertain that a change had been definitely effected, and that the difference was not a momentary transformation.
The study involved the collection of biographical data using three instruments: the data collection process included a video-taped interview with each participant, usually in their own home, to discuss their opinions and lives: secondly, they answered an information-gathering questionnaire: and they completed a psychological self-assessment instrument, the Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAI). This investigation also noted their work histories, community involvement, and what they thought they had achieved during their lifetime. It was anticipated that the combination of all these factors would yield more than sufficient qualitative and quantitative data for assessment, so as to explore the learning, identity formation, and transcultural adaptation of each man in the study. Two well-tested theories were referenced in this process. The first by La Fromboise et al. (1993) basically examined biculturalism, and the second by Levinson et al. (1978), considered the seasons of a man’s life, and each theory added strength to the deliberations that sought to answer the research question.
This research enlarged understanding of twentieth century Australian-Chinese men, their learning paradigms, identity influences, cross-cultural adaptation, and perceptions of their achievements. It provided insights to the field of adult learning, education and sociology, history and biography. It expanded the image of Australian-Chinese men and contributed to the participant’s and their family’s identity and historical record.