Date of Award:

8-2021

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Languages, Philosophy and Communication Studies

Committee Chair(s)

Matthew Sanders

Committee

Matthew Sanders

Committee

Bradford Hall

Committee

Nicole Allen

Abstract

Considerable research asserts that individuals who have immersive experiences in foreign cultures may experience mental and emotional challenges upon returning home, a phenomenon known as reverse culture shock. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints annually sends tens of thousands of proselytizing missionaries to various locations around the globe, and the nature of their missionary service places them at risk of experiencing problems during reentry. Despite this risk, reverse culture shock among returning Latter-day Saint missionaries remains relatively unexplored. The aim of this study was to examine how former Latter-day Saint missionaries made sense of their experiences returning to the Mountain West region of the United States and the social support that they received during reentry. Findings revealed that within the Mountain West community there are culturally-specific ways of speaking about returning missionaries. These ways of speaking influenced how returning missionaries went through identity-shaping processes linked to reverse culture shock, as well as how they experienced social support. These findings have implications for better understanding the role of family and friends’ expectations for the returnee, as well as the importance of social roles, in reverse culture shock. The findings also provide specific direction regarding how to benefit returning Latter-day Saint missionaries.

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