Lived experiences of international graduate students of color and their cultural capital: a critical perspective

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
S Anandavalli (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
L. DiAnne Borders

Abstract: This study explored the acculturative experiences of international graduate students of Color. Current literature on international students’ acculturative experiences is predominantly limited to students’ perceived inadequacies (e.g., language skills) and challenges (e.g., “passive presence”). Although knowledge about these students’challenges is valuable for counselors to provide effective interventions, a preoccupation with limitations and challenges of this community deprives counselors of an opportunity to offer an empowering space to further strengthen international students’ cultural assets and coping strategies (e.g., strong familial and ethnic community affiliation and personality traits of resilience) in the face of adversities. Perhaps this preoccupation partially explains why the utilization rate of campus counseling services for international students remains at a dismal 2% (Nilsson, Berkel, Flores, & Lucas, 2004; Yi, Lin, Jenny, & Kishimoto, 2003). The Eurocentric narrative of international students as culturally impoverished perpetuates an impression of deficiency, consequently perhaps limiting what college counselors address with their international student clients, especially those who come from People of Color communities. Given that international students constitute almost 14% of total enrollment in graduate schools in the U.S., this study focused on the experiences of international graduate students of Color through interviews analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996, 2007, 2009). Yosso’s (2005) theory of Community Cultural Wealth challenges the dominant interpretation of cultural capital and highlights the diversity of cultural assets found in minoritized communities. A fit between the study findings and Yosso’s (2005) was also explored as a secondary research question. Eight participants were interviewed. A total of nine super-ordinate themes were identified: Acceptance and Interactions with the American Society, Higher Education in the US, Adverse Mental Health Experiences, Home Country and Influences, Acculturation, Coping Strategies, Campus Counseling Services, Familial Cohesiveness and Growth and Self-Development. Participants identified a variety of mental health stressors and cultural capitals to overcome the former. Implications for counselors and university officials are also offered to further aid a more positive and social-justice oriented support for international graduate students on American college campuses.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Critical Race Theory, International Students, Minority Mental Health
Students, Foreign $x Mental health $z United States
Minority college students $x Mental health $z United States
Racism in higher education $z United States
Acculturation $z United States

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