Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Colvin, Carolyn

Second Advisor

Schmidt, Renita R

First Committee Member

Fielding, Linda G

Second Committee Member

Mcnabb, Scott F

Third Committee Member

Elmborg, James K


When international graduate students and their families participate in study abroad experiences, there are many challenges and opportunities that accompany these experiences. Depending on the context of the study abroad experience, some might be characterized as both opportunities and challenges. International graduate students and their families experience cultural and linguistic challenges/opportunities while also facing conscious (and unconscious) decisions of assimilation and acculturation. Education opportunities are rarely neutral and may be accompanied by uncertainty, discontinuities, and result in identities that shift and change in the course of crossing boundaries that are geographic, educational, emotional and metaphoric in nature. The ways in which international graduate students and members of their family take advantage of opportunities and address the challenges is the focus of my research.

In this study, I draw on Akkerman and Bakker's theories of learning in the context of boundary crossers and boundary objects to document and describe my family's journeys between Indonesia and the United States while in pursuit of educational goals. Data sources for this qualitative study involve stories documented in field notes and recorded in email exchanges between family members. These stories illuminate tensions and dilemmas we faced as a transnational family as each of us dealt with issues of acculturation, assimilation, linguistic and cultural differences in the context of international moves from 2001 until 2012. I use narrative analysis in order to understand the deeper meanings of family experiences captured in stories we told, recorded in writing, and shared with each other. These stories reveal our transitions and interactions as boundary crossers.

Central to my study is the use of books as boundary objects to address the dilemmas and tensions my family faced in the midst of our transnational journeys. Books, in the form of children's literature, often served as the means to create figured or "as if" worlds and provided the means for prompting dialogues among members of my family so that we could explore and discuss the cultural tensions and dilemmas that face many transnational families. In particular, one book served as a critical moment in my family's transnational experience. In order to better understand the value of this book as a boundary object, I made use of content analysis to understand the larger themes and document the role of the book, in family discussions as we anticipated our return to Indonesia.

The methods of my study as well as the findings I describe may serve to benefit other international students who explore educational opportunities abroad while accompanied by their family. I document the ways in which identities of my family are dynamic and changing in the context of our transnational journeys. The use of books as boundary objects situated at the intersection of geographic, cultural, and emotional boundary crossings may provide transnational families with dialogues to explore dilemmas and tensions. Finally, the process of recording family stories may serve international students and families as they become cultural and linguistic boundary crossers themselves.


Culture, Identities, Learning


ix, 167 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 162-167).


Copyright 2013 Yosep Bambang Margono Slamet