Zhang, Tianhong (2019, April 2). Meaningful intercultural practice: International and American graduate students on a U.S. campus. Doctoral dissertation (Education–Cultural Foundations), Kent State University, Kent, OH.

Abstract: The current study explored the nature of meaningful intercultural interactions and relations between international and American graduate students on a U.S. mid-sized college campus. Imahori and Lanigan’s (1989) intercultural relational model was used as the analytic framework for a better understanding of their meaningful intercultural practice on campus. In Phase I, the subjective views of intercultural practice on campus were collected from twelve international and American graduate students through semi–structured interviews. In Phase II, Q methodology enabled four of the twelve participants to model their subjective views on the issues of intercultural interactions and relations on campus through operating a Q-sort comprised of 42 statements. There were three types of intercultural practice that emerged: 1) relation-oriented, 2) knowledge-skill-oriented, 3) seeking intercultural field for self-fulfillment.

The research participants cut through the conventional conception of group identity bipolarized as “international” and “domestic” through unstable-othering for forging connections and developing relationships in an interchangeable interpersonal-intercultural manner. This enabled them to move among different communities of practice without necessarily being full members of these communities. The current study made theoretical contributions in the following perspectives: 1) a successful intercultural relationship being a result of the student self-oriented adaptation as a one-way relation, 2) “small culture” formed in their communities of intercultural practices defining their relationships as “intercultural” or “interpersonal.” Tentative suggestions were put forward for higher-education institutions designing intercultural educational programs to promote intercultural interactions among students.

Tianhong Zhang <tzhang13@kent.edu> has accepted a position beginning this autumn at Cedarville University, Cedarville, OH (USA).