In the Midst but Nowhere: Cross-cultural Narrative Inquiry into the Educational Experience of Three Women Doctoral Students with International Backgrounds In the United States
Term of Award
Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)
Document Type and Release Option
Dissertation (open access)
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
Ming Fang He
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Committee Member 2
Committee Member 3
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This is an inquiry into the educational experience of three women doctoral students with international backgrounds in the United States--Zehra, Kathryn, and myself with Zehra and Kathryn as immigrants by marriage from Turkey and South Yugoslavia and myself as an international student from the P. R. China. Theoretically, my dissertation draws upon a wide array of works such as multiculturalism (e.g., Asher, 2001, 2002; Au, 2009; Phillion, 1999, 2002; Phillion, He, & Connelly, 2005; Phillion & He, 2007; Chan, 2007; Schlein & Chan, 2013), languages (e.g., Igoa, 1995; Soto, 1997; Valdez, 1996, 2001), cultures (e.g., Carger 1996; He, 1998, 1999, 2005; Igoa, 1995; Valdés, 1996, 2001; Valenzuela, 1999), identities (e.g., Delpit & Dowdy, 2002; Maalouf, Maalouf, & Bray, 2012), in-betweenness (He, 2003, 2006), exile pedagogy (He, 2010), diaspora curriculum (He, 2021, 2022), representations of the intellectual (Saïd, 1994), reflections on exile (Saïd, 2000), and third space (Soja, 1996/2010). Methodologically building on multicultural narrative inquiry (Phillion, 2002), cross-cultural narrative inquiry (He, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2022) and personal, passionate, and participatory inquiry (He & Phillion, 2008), Zehra, Kathryn, and I tell our stories of experience of displacement and unbelonging--feeling of belonging to nowhere but in the midst of a space between the contested places (He, 2010). Six findings have emerged from my dissertation research. Promoting immigrant and international students’ social and emotional learning and wellbeing lies in our courage to overcome the homesickness, isolation, helplessness to fight against marginalization, oppression, and exclusion to thrive in academic and other life pursuits in a foreign land. Recognizing that a quadruple invisibility of transnational mother scholars/educators shatters stereotypical and negative images imposed upon us and liberates us to beat the odds, which becomes the light for our children and children of other immigrants. To coerce immigrant and international students to assimilate into mainstream languages and cultures subtracts (Valenzuela, 1999) our heritage languages, cultures, and identities. During pandemics (Ladson-Billings, 2021), unprecedented challenges for immigrant and international students has soared as “white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia are perpetuated by hatred of differences” (He, 2021, p. 10), which engenders our search for an exile space in-between the contested places (He, 2010). Cross-cultural narrative inquiry is a fluid inquiry which helps maintain the comparability of research phenomena, purposes, questions, and theoretical frameworks with the changing quality of cross-cultural lives and identities. (6) There is an increasing need to develop a culturally and linguistically relevant (Ladson-Billings, 1994/2009), responsive (Gay, 2000/2010), and sustaining (Paris & Alim, 2017) curriculum and pedagogy where educators, policy makers, professors, and other cultural workers work together to cultivate a welcoming, caring, and inclusive learning environment for immigrant and international students as they cross cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious, and ideological boundaries to become world citizens (Nussbaum, 1997) who contribute to human flourishing (UNESCO, 2020) in a contested world.
Li, R. (2022). IN THE MIDST BUT NOWHERE: CROSS-CULTURAL NARRATIVE INQUIRY INTO THE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF THREE WOMEN DOCTORAL STUDENTS WITH INTERNAITNAL BACKGROUDNS IN THE UNITED STATES. Unpublished dissertation. Georgia Southern University.
Research Data and Supplementary Material
Available for download on Sunday, June 20, 2027
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