Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Peggy Shannon Baker

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Robert Lake

Committee Member 3

Beverly King Miller

Committee Member 3 Email


Non-Voting Committee Member

Suniti Sharma


The goal of this dissertation was to illuminate how an immersive study abroad program enabled my Black and African American Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students to have meaningful language acquisition, cultural exploration, and identity expansion experiences. The methods used in this research reflect the qualitative narrative nature of the cross-cultural narrative inquiry (He, 2003, 2006, 2010; Phillion & He, 2008; Phillion et al., 2009; Sharma & Phillion, 2021). Thus, to accurately capture the participants’ stories, I employed a variety of methods, gathering data through semi-structured interviews and the collection of personal artifacts, such as journal writings, pictures, and mementos. The immersive program is a collaboration with a school in Costa Rica, which provides language acquisition, cultural exploration, and identity expansion experiences within the context of a new culture (Bakhtin, 1981; Chomsky, 1957; Krashen, 1981). The study focused on three former HBCU students: Flaco, Brianna, and Ten (pseudonyms). The study demonstrated how the three former HBCU student transformed through the spaces they encountered. The stories of the three participants are captured within the context of the chronotopic (Bakhtin, 1981) encounter and New Dimension search in Costa Rica. The following emerging themes and findings were identified: (1) HBCUs as a Special Place for Solidifying Black Identity; (2) “My Mom Had Baked My Financial Advisor Cookies”: Barriers to Study Abroad; (3) Languages: Encounter of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Standard English, and Spanish; (4) Cultures: Encounter of Black, African American, and Costa Rican Cultures; (5) Identities: “A Rose That Grew from a Crack in the Concrete”; and (6) Pura Vida as New Dimension. These findings illustrate the ever-intertwined nature of languages, cultures, and identities enhanced by immersion experiences abroad. Implications for me as a study abroad program leader and instructor are shared as well as those for other program leaders and the field of Curriculum Studies.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material