Cross-Cultural Adaptation in the Discourse of Education and Teaching: An Autoethnography of a Female Colombian Immigrant in Academia in the United States




Albarran, Paola

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Immigrants, refugees, and visitors face cross-cultural boundaries when they move to a new “host culture” and strive to build a new life in an unfamiliar place. Recent studies indicated that every year, the population of the United States becomes increasingly ethnically diverse and the number of female graduate immigrants has been increasing as well (Guramatunhu-Mudiwa, 2015). Yet, knowledge about female graduate students who are international immigrants and have become college teachers is limited. Given this trend, the purpose of this research is to examine the cross-cultural adaptation experience of myself as a female Colombian immigrant in academia, as well as the way I have undergone throughout the process of my integration to adjust and feel comfortable in a new culture. I hope my story offers institutions, local community members, and other international students who want to become college teachers, a unique perception of the characteristics of a teacher of color’s lived experiences and a drive to change the culture toward diversity. I am optimistic that my cross-cultural teaching experience could contribute to the general understanding of adaptation in the context of a diverse society in the United States.


Topic: This study is an exploration of the cross-cultural adaption experience of the researcher as a female Colombian immigrant in academia coming from a Hispanic-heritage culture. Through an autoethnography, the researcher seeks to evoke empathy and provide encouragement to other female Hispanic immigrants in academia in the United States. This study aims to understand what the barriers were, how she went through in spite of obstacles, and what it meant to explore cross-cultural adaptation as a long-term process to adjust and feel comfortable in a new culture. | Expected Findings: After analyzing my cross-cultural adaptation experience through the lens of an autoethnography, two themes emerged. First, compared to American teachers, international educators struggle with additional challenges: composite academic material, different teaching strategies, unusual way of interaction between instructors and students, unique writing/speaking approaches, and particular methods of logical thinking. Second, the cross-cultural teaching experiences and the transnational form of living required international teachers to redraw the boundaries behind their culture of origin helping to the contributions of their development and experiences. Marginalized and/or rejection to the host culture is not acceptable for foreign teachers; contrary, they should employ higher levels of social interaction in the host environment to gain the necessary insights and skills to adapt and acculturate in the context of a diverse society (Hoota & Ting-Toomey, 2013).



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