Muslim International Students in the United States
A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Experience of Identities
Keywords:higher education, identity, international student identity model, Muslim international students, stereotypes, Trump effect
This study explored how Muslim international students experience their religious, ethnic/racial, and gender identities prior to coming to the United States and as students in the midwestern United States using E. Kim’s (2012) International Student Identity model as a guiding framework. Three significant findings emerged from semi-structured interviews with 10 students who attended 4-year institutions in the midwestern United States: (a) religious difficulties of being Muslim and Islam as a flexible religion, (b) difficulties with racial constructs and ethnic stereotypes, and (c) gender difficulties of male/female interactions and perceptions of veiling. Based upon these findings, recommendations for higher education professionals, administrators, and policymakers are provided.
Ali, A. (2014). A threat enfleshed: Muslim college students situate their identities amidst portrayals of Muslim violence and terror. QSE: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 27(10), 1243–1261. doi:10.1080/09518398.2013.820860
Alruwaili, T. O. M. (2017). Self identity and community through social media: The experience of Saudi female international college students in the United States (Publication No. 10266838) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Northern Colorado]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007). The internationalization of higher education: Motivations and realities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3–4), 290–305. doi:10.1177/1028315307303542
Andrea, B. (2009). Islam, women, and Western responses: The contemporary relevance of early modern investigations. Women’s Studies, 38(3), 273-292. doi:10.1080/00497870902724612
Asmar, C. (2005). Internationalising students: Reassessing diasporic and local student difference. Studies in Higher Education, 30(3), 291–309. doi:10.1080/03075070500095713
Beutel, A. (2018, May 18). Re: How Trump’s nativist tweets overlap with anti-Muslim and anti-Latino hate crimes [Web log message]. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/05/18/how-trump%E2%80%99s-nativist-tweets-overlap-anti-muslim-and-anti-latino-hate-crimes
Bond, K., & Scudamore, R. (2010). Working with international students: A guide for staff in engineering. Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/working-with-international-students.pdf
Campbell, H., Strawser, M. G., & George, S. (2016). Communication education and international audiences: Reflections on instructional challenges and pedagogical strategy. Journal of International Students, 6(2), 632–343.
Cerbo, T. (2010). Muslim undergraduate women: A phenomenological inquiry into the lived-experience of identity development (Publication No. 3425892) [Doctoral dissertation, North Carolina State]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
Chickering, A. W. (1969). Education and identity. Jossey Bass.
Choudaha, R., & de Wit, H. (2019, February 8). Finding a sustainable future for student mobility. University World News. https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20190205110138464
Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). Sage.
Cross, W. E. (1991). Shades of black: Diversity in African-American identity. Temple University Press.
Dey, F. (2012). Islam on campus: Identity development of Muslim-American college students (Publication no. 1369843652) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida]. ProQuest Dissertation and Theses.
Dimandja, O. (2017). “We are not that different from you”: A phenomenological study of undergraduate Muslim international student campus experiences (Publication no. 10279921) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.
Erickson, B. T. (2014). Discerning identity: A grounded theory of international Muslim and former Muslim students’ shifts in religious and cultural identity at two Midwestern universities [Master’s thesis, Bowling Green State University]. OhioLINK. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1395408848
Erikson, E. H. (1959). Identity and the life cycle. Psychological Issues Monograph, 7(1), 91–146.
Ferdman, B. M., & Gallegos, P. I. (2001). Racial identity development and Latinos in the United States. In C. L. Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson, III (Eds.), New perspectives on racial identity development: A theoretical and practical anthology (pp. 65–89). Religious Education Press.
Fischer, K. (2017, November). International-student enrollment is slowing—And it isn’t all Donald Trump’s fault. Chronicle of Higher Education, 64(12). https://www.chronicle.com/article/International-Student/241737
Fries-Britt, S., George Mwangi, C. A., & Peralta, A. M. (2014). Learning race in a U.S. Context: An emergent framework on the perceptions of race among foreign-born students of color. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 7(1), 1–13. doi:10.1037/a0035636
Gregory, A. M. (2014). Negotiating Muslim womanhood: The adaptation strategies of international students at two American public colleges [Master’s thesis, University of South Florida]. http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/5229
Helms, J. E. (1990). Black and White racial identity: Theory, research, and practice. Greenwood Press.
Horse, P. G. (2001). Reflections on American Indian identity. In C. L. Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson, III (Eds.), New perspectives on racial identity development: A theoretical and practical anthology (pp. 91–107). New York University Press.
Institute of International Education. (n.d.). Who is counted as an international student? Retrieved from https://www.iie.org/Research-and-Insights/Open-Doors/Frequently-Asked-Questions#Q4
Institute of International Education. (2015). What international students think about US higher education: Attitudes and perceptions of prospective students from around the world. https://www.iie.org/Research-and-Insights/Publications/What-International-Students-Think-About-US-Higher-Education
Institute of International Education. (2017). Research and insights: United States. Retrieved May 18, 2017 from https://www.iie.org/en/Research-and-Insights/Project-Atlas/Explore-Data/United-States
Institute of International Education. (2019). International students: Enrollment trends. Retrieved from https://www.iie.org/Research-and-Insights/Open-Doors/Data
Jones, S. R., & McEwen, M. K. (2000). A conceptual model of multiple dimensions of identity. Journal of College Student Development, 41(4), 405–414.
Kim, E. (2012). An alternative theoretical model: Examining psychosocial identity development of international students in the United States. College Student Journal, 46(1), 99–113.
Kim, J. (2001). Asian American identity development theory. In C. L. Wijeyesinghe & B. W. Jackson, III (Eds.), New perspectives on racial identity development: A theoretical and practical anthology (pp. 67–90). New York University Press.
Lefdahl-Davis, E. M., & Perrone-McGovern, K. M. (2015). The cultural adjustment of Saudi women international students: A qualitative examination. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 46(3), 406–434. doi:10.1177/0022022114566680
Liptak, A. (2017, December 4). Supreme Court allows Trump travel ban to take effect. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/us/politics/trump-travel-ban-supreme-court.html
Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Sage.
Müller, K., & Schwarz, C. (2018, March 30). Making America hate again? Twitter and hate crime under Trump. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3149103
Mutakabbir, Y. T., & Nuriddin, T. A. (2016). Religious minority students in higher education. Routledge.
Neider, X. N. (2011). “When you come here, it is still like it is their space”: Exploring the experiences of students of Middle Eastern heritages in post-9/11 U.S. higher education (Publication no. 3421645) [Doctoral dissertation, Washington State University]. ProQuest Dissertation and Theses.
Nuqul, J. J. (2015). Caught in the middle: A study of international students and cultural identity (Publication no. AAI3665496) [Doctoral dissertation, Northcenteral University]. ProQuest Dissertation and Theses.
Ozyurt, S. (2013). Negotiating multiple identities, constructing Western-Muslim selves in the Netherlands and the United States. Political Psychology, 34(2), 239–263. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2012.00924.x
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Sage.
Phinney, J. S. (1990). Ethnic identity in adolescents and adults: Review of research. Psychological Bulletin, 108(3), 499–514. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.108.3.499
Polkinghorne, D. E. (1989). Phenomenological research methods. In R. S. Valle & S. Halling (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology (pp. 41–60). Plenum Press.
Potok, M. (2017, February). The Trump effect. Intelligence Report. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2017/trump-effect
Rowe, W., Bennett, S. K. & Atkinson, D. R. (1994). White racial identity models: A critique and alternative proposal. Counseling Psychologist, 22, 129–146. doi:10.1177/00110000094221009
Saul, S. (2018, January). As flow of foreign students wanes, U.S. universities feel the sting. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/us/international-enrollment-drop.html?_r=0
Schatz, V. G. (2008). “U.S. and them”: Communicating international Muslim student identity at U.S. universities in the post-9/11 era (Publication no. 1456667) [Master’s thesis, University of Colorado at Boulder]. ProQuest Dissertation and Theses.
Schwandt, T.A. (2015). The SAGE dictionary of qualitative inquiry (4th ed.). Sage.
Tummala-Narra, P., & Claudius, M. (2013). A qualitative examination of Muslim graduate international students' experiences in the United States. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 2(2), 132–147. doi:10.1037/ipp0000003
Wertz, F. J. (2011). A phenomenological psychological approach to trauma and resilience. In F. J. Wertz, K. Charmaz, L. M. McMullen, R. Josselson, R. Anderson, & E. McSpadden (Eds.), Five ways of doing qualitative analysis: Phenomenological psychology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry (pp. 124–164). The Guilford Press.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of International Students
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
All published articles are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported License.