Jinsoon Lee


Many Japanese corporations relocate their employees overseas for a period of time. In some cases, the relocation is for an extended period of time, in which case, employees have the option of moving members of their immediate family with them. This phenomenological study explored how the early adolescent-age children of these employees assimilate to life in the U.S., particularly in regards to making friends and adjusting to their new school. The data fell under 3 broad domains: (a) assimilation to host culture, (b) social inclusion, and (c) disharmony with peers. The fear of the unknown was a common theme reported among the participants, while their mothers expressed less trepidation about the relocation. Despite the initial challenges, all participants now feel they have assimilated and most report enjoying their U.S. experience. Common complaints included missing old friends, needing to rely on their parents for getting around in the U.S., and feeling stressed by academic challenges due to limited fluency in the English language. While none of the participants reported either being bullied or bullying others, the manner in which they described bullying behavior was consistent with previous research. The participants expressed that victimization under certain circumstances might be justified. Moreover, if victimized, there was a tendency to internalize the experience and to look for fault in oneself rather than holding the perpetrator responsible. Advice to other expatriate students and their families include awareness of the academic demands of U.S. schools, recommendations for meeting and making new friends, suggestions for a smoother relocation experience, and the need for parents to become more involved in helping their children succeed academically and personally. The clinical implications of the study findings are discussed, which include facilitating expatriate families' openness to new experiences, providing guidance on issues they might face in the assimilation process, and offering strategies for mitigating these challenges.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Assimilation (Sociology); Children of foreign workers -- Education; Intercultural communication

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Asamen, Joy K.;