Developing Civic Identity While Abroad: Experiences of International Students on Educational Sojourns in the United States

Marta M Filip-Fouser, University of Pennsylvania


Few studies examine the development of civic identity among international students across various points of their educational sojourns in the United States. The existing research focuses mainly on self-sponsored individuals but studies of students who pursue their education on government-sponsored scholarship are minimal. This study attempts to broaden our understanding of international students at independent boarding schools and colleges in the United States with an emphasis on processes and factors that contribute to civic identity development. Specifically, the purpose of this research is to explore how the experiences of students from Thailand who arrive in the United States on Thai government-sponsored scholarship help them understand their evolving role in their communities and contribute to shaping their civic identities. Interactions on boarding school campuses and colleges, classroom practices, and elements of organizational culture are explored as aspects of civic identity formation. Further, given the processes of global mobility and cross-cultural immersions, this study examines students’ experiences through the lens of transnationalism. Data was collected through qualitative methods (a questionnaire and semi-structured individual interviews). Three distinct claims emerged as a result of data analysis. They emphasize the centrality of a sense of belonging to new experiences; the existence of hybrid spaces that allow the development of collective Thai identity and provide opportunities to process transnational experiences; and the emergence of strategies to navigate distinct cultural environments. Transnational individuals’ sense of belonging and community membership, formed as a result of sustained immersion in different cultures and educational systems, reflects both local allegiance and awareness of a larger, global context.

Subject Area

Social research|Educational sociology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Filip-Fouser, Marta M, "Developing Civic Identity While Abroad: Experiences of International Students on Educational Sojourns in the United States" (2021). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28542673.