There have been many studies of international students studying in Australia recognising them as a special population. Literature has also acknowledged that most
international students appear to acculturate and adapt as they eventually acquire the skills needed for their Australian context. This research seeks to understand thesechanges in self-identity and discursive identity in relation to acculturationexperiences and adaptation events. Six Indian international students undertaking a
Diploma in Salon Management at a Brisbane vocational education and training (VET) college are involved in this research on identity change during acculturation.
While sojourner discursive practices and identity development form the study’s theoretical foundations, international students’ crossing political borders and socialboundaries also contribute to the research theoretical framework. Issues of student security and wellness during acculturation and adaptation into Australian sociocultural environments are also investigated.
Using a case study approach and a thematic narrative analysis, this research investigates the stories gathered from one-to-one participant interviews. As the research design recognises each student as an individual case, six participant vignettes, descriptive profiles and case study descriptions are developed from the analysed data sequences. Through use of Riessman’s (2008) narrative analysis approach, data are not fractured as in other approaches. By using a theoretically informed and methodologically rigorous approach to analysing participants’ words, their voices are able to explain their experiences in the vignettes and case study descriptions. As the researcher, I acknowledge that the participants view themselves as actors within their Australian social and VET contexts and I accept the participants’ descriptions as reflections of their chosen selves and their reality.
The findings from this research provide new theoretical insights into sojourners who, while accepting the label of student, act more like migrants. During the second
analysis of the participants’ stories a new idea of resilience is identified. This shock absorbing resilience representation does not have a physical or psychological
downturn accompanied by a gradual return to the pre-adverse level of functioning, as in the seminal Carver’s (1998) model. With this depiction of resilience, individuals have the ability to function continuously, thereby showing no significant fluctuations in their performance.
The results from this research open an investigation into an area that has not previously been a specific focus in the Australian context: namely, VET sector international students. Issues of identity, acculturation adjustments and adaptation of Australian VET sector international students are raised and areas where additional research is required are indicated. It is through access to further research-based information, that Federal, State and local policy makers, VET providers, and other stakeholders are better informed when pursuing their goal of quality Australian VET education services that are competitive.
|Keywords||international, students, studies, acculturation, immigrants, student, security, wellness, adaption, VET, |