Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1


Committee Member 2



This study explores my border crossing experience among and between cultures. Although a large portion of my narrative addresses my time living as a Fulbright grantee in Latvia, this study is much more than a solitary six-month sojourn. It is a lifelong journey and an attempt to understand what is entailed when we cross physical, cultural, linguistic, socio-political, and intellectual borders. Four bodies of research provide the theoretical framework for the study: critical theory (Apple, 2001; Aronowitz and Giroux, 1993; Ayers, 2006; Chomsky, 2004, 2006; McLaren, 1997, 2005; Giroux, 1992; Zinn, 1980, 2007), exile and borderland pedagogy (Anzaldúa, 1987; Freire & Faundez, 1989; He, 2003, 2010; Said, 1996, 1999, 2000), cosmopolitanism and world citizenship (Aoki, 2005; Appiah, 2006; Clifford, 1988, 1997; Derrida, 2003; Geertz, 1995; Nussbaum, 1997), and the cultivation of cultural identity (Bateson, 1994; Boym, 2001; Maalouf, 1994; Martin, 2002; Sen, 2006). I draw upon a wide array of methodological approaches in my inquiry such as autobiographical narrative inquiry (Phillion, He & Connelly, 2005; He and Phillion, 2008), the art of memoir and intercultural autobiographical narrative (Aciman, 1996; Dorfman, 1998; Geertz, 1995; He, 2003, Hoffman, 1989, 1999; Kaplan, 1993; Liu, 1998; Pomfret, 2007; Said, 1999; Santiago, 1993), and socially-conscious autobiographical narrative (Ayers, 2001; Horton, 1998; McLaurin, 1998). The power of this line of inquiry lies in its possibilities to capture the contradictions and paradoxes of the border crossing experience, 'to honor the subtleties, fluidities, and complexities of such experience, and to cultivate understanding towards individual cross-cultural experience and the multicultural contexts that shape and are shaped by such experience" (He, 2003, p. xvii). A major goal for this study was to explore what it means to be a global citizen and how we can cultivate engaged, empathetic, and multicultural perspectives in learning, teaching, and life. In an unplanned detour, rather than determining a concrete path towards global citizenship, the key findings for this inquiry deconstruct the contradictions and complexities of the term global citizen. There is no one exemplar global citizen as global citizens are as diverse as the routes they take in life. I begin to understand that global citizenship is not an inquiry topic that can be resolved in one study, through one story, or by one person. Global citizenship is a fluid and dynamic process. Intellectual and cultural borders change with every trip, every encounter, and every reflection. Although I did not uncover a standard or exemplary path towards global citizenship, this inquiry beckons future research about issues that impact the cultivation of the global citizen, including nationalism, cultural identity, nostalgia, modes of acculturation, and multicultural education.