LEARNING THE “LANGUAGE” OF MOTHERHOOD AS INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS
A POETIC ETHNOGRAPHY
Keywords:poetic ethnography, poetic inquiry, international students, motherhood, intercultural dialogue
As international students seek degrees in U.S. institutions of higher education, their role as students is forefronted and recognizable by faculty and peers. However, what often remains invisible are international students' social and personal experiences during academic study abroad. Although there is a great deal of feminist research on academic identity and motherhood, almost nothing has been written regarding the experiences of international women who become mothers while pursuing graduate studies in the U.S. This poetic ethnographic study focuses on the lived experiences of eleven international graduate student first-time mothers from Chinese mainland and Taiwan who became new mothers during their programs of study in the U.S., especially how they kept learning their ongoing, dynamic, multifaceted, and embodied “language” of motherhood through various kinds of social interactions, and among divergent practices, beliefs, and cultures. This article explores how poetic inquiry can contribute to the understanding of international graduate student mothers’ experiences as a social, cultural, and educational phenomenon. This article also discusses the issues of ethics and self-reflexivity of conducting poetic inquiry research.
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