A HERMENEUTIC PHENOMENOLOGICAL INQUIRY INTO THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF TAIWANESE PARACHUTE STUDENTS
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ABSTRACT Title of dissertation: A HERMENEUTIC PHENOMENOLOGICAL INQUIRY INTO THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF TAIWANESE PARACHUTE STUDENTS. Benjamin T. OuYang, Doctor of Philosophy, 2004 Dissertation directed by: Dr. Francine H. Hultgren Department of Education Policy and Leadership The purpose of this study is to understand the lived experiences of Taiwanese parachute students, so named because of their being sent to study in the United States, frequently unaccompanied by their parents. Significant themes are revealed through hermeneutic phenomenological methodology and developed using the powerful metaphor of landing. Seven parachute students took part in several in-depth conversations with the researcher about their experiences living in the States, immersed in the English language and the American culture. Their stories are reflective accounts, which when coupled with literary and philosophic sources, reveal the essence of this experience of living in a foreign land. Voiced by teenage and young adult parachute students, the metaphor of landing as shown in their search for establishing a home and belonging, is the slate for the writing of this work's main themes. The research opens up to a deeper understanding of this phenomenon in such themes as foreignness, landing and surveying the area; lost in the language; homesickness; and trying to establish friendships. Through the unique voice of the parachute students, the knowledge created from within these themes illuminates new understandings and insights for educators. Through this research we come to know ways in which various educational venues of student life can serve as a forum for the perspectives of ESOL students and educators, as well as encouraging parental support for parachute students. Equally important, we learn the values of belonging and of home, two aspects of life so often taken for granted. This work is also a personal accounting of the lived experience of the researcher who went to Taiwan for ten months to experience being immersed in the Chinese culture and language. In this journey of opening up the lived experiences of the Taiwanese parachute students, the researcher also came to know himself and the culture he once abandoned. His experiences bring the parachute students' meaning to further depth. They came to a new way of understanding themselves and their meaning of home which, in turn, makes them ambassadors for appreciating diversity and increasing multiculturalism in the educational field, and in the global society.