The burden of privilege: navigating transnational space and migration dilemmas among Rwandan scholarship students in the U.S.

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The burden of privilege: navigating transnational space and migration dilemmas among Rwandan scholarship students in the U.S.

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2014-08

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This dissertation is an ethnography of the transnational education space inhabited by higher education scholarship recipients from Rwanda pursuing undergraduate degrees in the United States. It examines how this space is produced through the representational practices of actors in the U.S. and Rwanda and, in turn, constitutes the relationships, dilemmas, transformations, and representations that occur within these spaces. Employing a transnational lens, the study describes a space of opportunity as well as tension between contrasting narratives of change, national and familial priorities, and the "magical" expectations of various actors that contrast with students' lived experiences of undergraduate education in the U.S. Most centrally, it argues that navigating the diverse expectations associated with a U.S. education is a significant yet under-addressed challenge faced by scholarship students from low-income and post-conflict contexts. Understanding this burden--the burden of privilege--is its primary focus.The study demonstrates that spatial analysis offers a promising approach for illuminating the experiences of internationally mobile students and for informing the design and implementation of international higher education scholarship programs. It concludes that scholarship students would benefit from program designs that create space for open dialogue about the migration dilemmas that accompany international mobility, particularly those related to the weighty expectations of family and nation for those privileged to have received scholarships to study in the U.S. This is particularly crucial for programs involving youth from low-income and post-conflict contexts--a group for whom the burden of such a privilege is particularly pronounced.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2014. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. Frances K. Vavrus. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 299 pages, appendices A-C.

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Baxter, Aryn Raye. (2014). The burden of privilege: navigating transnational space and migration dilemmas among Rwandan scholarship students in the U.S.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/166947.

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