Identity negotiations of Colombian international students
MetadataShow full item record
The number of international students in the U.S. continues to grow, and during the 2013-2014 academic year, comprised about four percent of all university students. Studies have pointed to both challenges and positive aspects of the study abroad experience, but much of the research is outcome based and does not address the ongoing identity negotiations of these students as they navigate a new cultural setting. The goal of this research was to illustrate a framework for the analysis of identity processing by international students. The framework guiding the research is a sociocultural/dialogical perspective which emphasizes the dynamic, ongoing nature of identity meaning creation via intrapersonal and interpersonal dialoguing with different aspects of self, with actual and imagined other people, with collectives, with abstractions associated with home and host countries, and with future selves. This sociocultural/dialogical framework was illustrated in the analysis of semi-structured interviews with 14 Colombian international students (6 women, 8 men) attending a university in the Southwest U.S. Analysis of the interviews was derived from the study’s theoretical lens which directs attention to the dialogical self subsystems as composed I-Other positionings and the relations among these positionings. One aspect of the analysis focused on content—the prominent I-positions expressed by students—which were grouped into three broad content categories. The first concerns national identity and meanings regarding U.S. and Colombian societies as well as meanings associated with their international student experience; the second focuses on meanings of independence and the ways these intersect with meanings of family; and the third describes students’ dialoguing about future goals which draws on discourses of opportunity and of national identity. The main analysis concerned identity negotiation processes, focusing on tensions expressed by students in their positionings toward home and host countries and whether they spontaneously offered a resolution to the tension. This analysis emphasized the diversity of identity negotiations: Some students expressed no tensions engendered by the international experience; some voiced tensions with no proposed resolution; and a final grouping of students expressed tensions but also an emergent synthesis that served to resolve the tension. The analysis of tensions contributes to the international student literature in two ways. First, because much of this literature is based on the assumption that international students experience acculturation stress, it is important to document in more detail the validity of the assumption and the types of tensions experienced by students. Second, and more importantly for the purposes of this study, it points to the value of a process analysis of tensions and the ways in which such tensions can lead to identity reflection and re-evaluation.This dissertation won 2nd Place in the Texas Tech University Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Award, Social Sciences, 2016.Embargo status: Restricted from online display. To request an access exception from the author, click on the PDF link to the left.