Date of Award

5-2013

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counselor Education

Advisor

Dorothy Breen

Second Committee Member

Sandra Caron

Third Committee Member

John Maddaus

Abstract

A number of schools in the United States currently utilize multiple strategies to attract a large and multicultural high school student population. As in many other states, Maine’s high schools have been recruiting international students to add richness and diversity to their educational settings and surrounding communities. Yet there is minimal literature focused on the holistic experiences of this population.

The purpose of this study was to explore the needs and experiences of Maine’s international high school students who were at least 17 years of age. This qualitative research based on Seidman’s (2006) phenomenological model of in-depth interviews encompassed an exploration of international high school students’ emotional, social, and educational experiences across residential, community, and school settings. It also included an examination of variations between these settings, as well as students’ recommendations for counselors and school staff that provide this population with support. Consisting of three phases of interviews with 10 students from East Asia, the study was identified as bridging a significant gap in research since relevant literature emphasizing the needs and experiences of this population have been scarce, deficit- focused, fragmented, and nearly non-existent from current studies

Though the experiences shortly after arrival appeared to be a vulnerable time of disconnection for the international high school students in this study, all of the participants were successful at achieving a sense of connectedness with others over time. In addition, regardless of gender, age, grade level, country of origin, timing of arrival in the United States, and length of time living and studying in Maine, every student participating in this study portrayed experiences of resilience and personal growth.

Enhancing the school community’s awareness of the importance of reaching out to international students after their arrival, as well as assisting teachers to support this population through the massive shift they must make while adapting to active learning roles in the academic setting were some of the implications for school counselors. The need to shape the school climate with opportunities for ongoing dialogue about culture and communication patterns between individuals from different backgrounds was another prominent implication.

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