Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities & Social Science

Department

Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Advisor

Douglas Flemons

Committee Member

Shelley Green

Committee Member

Ron Chenail

Abstract

Often referred to as people in transition, international students usually arrive in the U.S. with a clear sense of their academic goals; however, they often have not considered what their lives will be like or how they may change in non-academic ways. In addition to the typical level of university-related stress, international students face additional problems and difficulties generated in part by the cultural differences between the U.S. and their own countries. This is particularly true for Asian students. Of several studies that have investigated the experiences of international students in the U.S., only a handful have examined Asian students' unique experiences of acculturation, and although the number of Asian women students in the U.S. is increasing, there are even fewer studies about them. This study served as a corrective to these tendencies by focusing specifically on the transformative experiences of Asian women international students (AWIS). Utilizing autoethnographic and ethnographic methodologies, the researcher conducted a qualitative study, exploring in depth the lived experiences of eleven Asian women in cultural transition. The findings bring to light rich and conflicting emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal experiences and strategies of AWIS, who attempt to balance the cultural and familial injunctions of their parents (e.g., Bring Honor, Stay Asian, and Obey Us or Else) with the freedom and opportunities of American culture and campus life. The findings of this research will be relevant to various stakeholders. University administrators and staff, particularly professionals in student affairs and, more specifically, those working with international students and/or in student counseling centers, will benefit from a nuanced understanding of the complexities of these students' lives. Both researchers and clinicians will gain an appreciation for how a systemic focus can be maintained while interviewing individuals. Clinicians will also be better equipped to handle the cultural complexities encountered by these women and to provide culturally sensitive counseling.

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