The Saga of Border Crossers: Social Adjustment of Japanese Female Students in a Midwestern U.S. University

By Sumiko Miyafusa and Francis Ebenezer Godwyll.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Japanese international student population in the United States has maintained a steady increase for a decade. This increase in the Japanese student population has implications for adjustment for Japanese females who come from different cultural backgrounds in terms of politics, identities, societies, organization, and language. Because they crossed the border out of Japan and crossed the border into the United States, we termed them “border crossers.” This research sought to examine experiences Japanese female graduate students face in on- and off-campus settings while adjusting to speaking English and socializing with peers in a university in the Midwest of the United States. The study adopted two theories. The first is organization theory which states that groups have distinguished characteristics that shape how they behave. In this study, two distinctive groups—Japanese, who come from more of a collectivist society, and U.S. citizens who come from a culture that tends to be more individualistic—are interrogated to see how they interplay with our respondents. The second theoretical framework is social identity theory, which focuses on how people explore the individual-based perception of what defines the “us” associated with any internalized group membership. Nine Japanese female border crossers attending a U.S. university were purposively sampled for the study. This study was a case study aimed at critically examining social reality through in-depth interviews and analysis. The results, among others, revealed that participants had problems dealing with intercultural friendship and self-esteem, citing conflicts dealing with domestic students as well as members of the public. The conflicting demands of the two cultures take their toll on the social identity development of the Japanese border crossers. Awareness creation in U.S. communities, supporting psychosocial services, and related pre- departure preparations for would-be border crossers are some suggested, among others.

Keywords: Social Adjustment, Border Crossers, Identity Crisis, Self-esteem

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.157-170. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.270MB).

Dr. Sumiko Miyafusa

Doctoral Student, Cultural Studies Program, Department of Educational Studies, Ohio Univeristy, Athens, Ohio, USA

She received a Ph.D. in Educational Studies at Ohio University in June 2009. She Obtained a Master’s degree in the same program and a certificate of Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL) in 2007. In the bachelor’s program, she majored in American English at the Baiko Gakuin University in Japan and obtained a teacher’s license of English for junior high and high schools as well as a certificate of teaching Japanese as a foreign language. Her research interests among others include cross-cultural issues in the United States related to social identity, feminism and organizations. She served as a Cultural Adviser for 7th graders at the Federal Hocking Middle School in Ohio during an Expeditionary Learning project under the auspices of Dr. Rosalie Romano. She also worked as a research assistant in the Women’s Center, the Cultural Studies program and the Dean’s Office all at Ohio University in the U.S.

Dr. Francis Ebenezer Godwyll

Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies in Education, Department of Educational Studies, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA

He is currently an Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies in Education at Ohio University in Athens. He was a Lecturer in Education at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. He was an adjunct faculty at the University of Education at Winneba in Ghana and the National-Louis University at the Heidelberg International Campus. He served as an instructor at the Institute of Behavior Modification in Heidelberg, Germany a subsidiary of the Institute of Special Education at the University of Education at Heidelberg. He has consulted for the Ministry of Education Ghana, Ghana National Association of Teachers, SOS Village projects,Ghana. He is an author and co-author of books, book chapters, articles and presented at national and international conferences.


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