The Journey from Academic Sojourner to Humanistic EFL Educator: Perspectives of Saudi Women
Al-Samiri, Reem Ahmed
University of Kansas
Curriculum and Teaching
Copyright held by the author.
MetadataShow full item record
Since 2006, the Saudi Arabian government has launched a large-scale scholarship program for Saudis to study abroad in various parts of the world, and especially in the United States, as part of an initiative to increase the qualifications of Saudi youth and act as a cultural exchange. Among those Saudis who study abroad, there are many educators who return to teach in Saudi classrooms. Framed in language teacher identity and Transformative learning theory, this dissertation explores the narratives of Saudi women who completed an academic sojourn in the United States and return to teach English in Saudi higher education classes for young women. Employing a mixed-method design, the current study finds that the Saudi women’s sojourn to the United States was a transformative experience. Aspects of being in a new and unfamiliar context, interacting with various cultures, adjusting to new social gender roles, having access to professional opportunities, and facing challenges on their own, all contribute to major changes in the women’s lives. They report their experiences allowing them to redefine and rediscover themselves, gain independence, build resilience, increase their cultural awareness, enhance their agency as professionals, and re-define their roles as language instructors upon their return. In addition, their experiences living abroad prompted them to take on a humanistic approach to teaching. Their recent experiences as students and as sojourners in a foreign country allowed for them to realize the importance of human relationships and how they influence leaning. They display features of humanistic education that emphasizes the acknowledgment of the student as a “whole person” and legitimizes the accommodation of emotions, flexibility, and building strong teacher-student relationships. Finally, the study finds that the Saudi women in this study utilize the knowledge and experiences they have of Saudi and American cultures to create a hybrid classroom culture. In that “Third Space,” they employ teaching methods and techniques from both cultures in a way that introduces the students to new student-centered learning but maintains familiarity with the local learning context. They also use that Third Space to connect the local language and culture to the global ones in a way that is relevant to their students and respectful of local values. The study has implications for graduates of U.S. institutions who return to an educational profession in Saudi Arabia. There are also implications for U.S.-TESOL programs and educators within those programs to provide more meaningful experiences for international students within those programs.
- Dissertations 
Items in KU ScholarWorks are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
We want to hear from you! Please share your stories about how Open Access to this item benefits YOU.