Doctoral graduate researches ways to help international students returning home

Tara Braun completed her dissertation on the re-acculturation of international students

| Author: Ellie Heron | Media Contact: Kara Owens

Tara Braun, a doctoral graduate in Educational Leadership, completed her dissertation on re-acculturation of international students as they return to their home countries. Re-acculturation is the adjustment experience returning to one’s home culture after being immersed in a different culture for a period of time. This adjustment can involve adapting to changes in the home country as well as changes in the individual’s perception of themselves and their culture. Braun’s research focused specifically on Ghanaian students, as she has the most experience working with them. 

Some of the major themes Braun found through her interviews with Ghanaian alumni were that students felt disconnected from their friends and culture upon their return. Many had difficulty finding support systems and faced changes in the way they were treated or perceived. They also struggled with ways that they recognized race and racial divide in the United States, where they were classified as “black” but couldn’t define themselves as African.  

Braun presents several methods to help facilitate the adjustment back to home. She proposes a pre-departure program to begin providing a networking system with alumni from their home country and prepare them for a career back home. Maintaining communication with the students throughout their transition would also help to make the switch feel less abrupt. Braun hopes that these methods will allow for a quicker and more positive adjustment experience.  

Braun has been working in international education for many years and has noticed that there are many studies done for students transitioning as they come to campus, but very few for students returning to their home countries. She hopes to develop active alumni networks for transitioning international students and help students with adjustment methods. In the future, Braun says she “will continue to research how international students experience and process the race structure in the United States and how this experience changes their own concept of race,” as well as “how institutions can include international alumni in the return transition process and develop pre-departure programs.” She also hopes to look into how being immersed in other cultures changes the perspectives an individual has of themselves.  

Braun’s research can soon be accessed through the Central Michigan University Scholarly and Creative Works collection or through her website at She is in the process of submitting her work to international education publications.  

This story is brought to you by the  Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

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