Tibetan women and higher educational experience: An exploratory study
The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of Tibetan women at various higher educational institutions in the Western Massachusetts area after the US Congress passed the 1990 Immigration Act (Comprehensive Immigration Action of 1990, Sec 134) that granted 1,000 visas to displaced Tibetans from exiled communities in India and Nepal to the United States. The research study was guided by the following five main questions: (1) What does it mean for Tibetan women to pursue higher education in the United States? (2) What motivates the Tibetan women to study? (3) What professional careers do these Tibetan women aspire to in the United States? (4) To what extent are these women intending to serve Tibetan communities? If so, how? If not, why not? (5) How did the concept of a Tibetan egalitarian society help these women to pursue higher education in the United States?
Case study was the approach used for the study with a research design focusing on qualitative rather than quantitative techniques. Due to the paucity of existing literature and research on the Tibetan population in the United States, this was an exploratory study. This study does not represent educational experiences of all Tibetan women in higher education. Twelve Tibetan women participants were interviewed using in-depth interviews as a data collection method for this study. Five common themes emerged out of this study; the meaning of higher education, educational motivation, communal responsibility, career aspirations, and gender differences in Tibetan society.
Results from this study suggested that Tibetan women’s experiences in higher educational institutions are different from other minority women partly due to their stateless status and their devotion to work towards the preservation of unique Tibetan culture and language in exile. In addition, the multiple uprooted experiences clearly posed unique challenges as well. It was apparent from the study that Tibetans while adapting to the host culture, remained loyal to the cause of the Tibetan self determination and nation state.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups