Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Susan R Katz

Second Advisor

Noah E Borrero

Third Advisor

Monisha Bajaj


Globalization along with expanding education for global citizenship has increased experiential learning possibilities for high school youth. Educators presume that student exchange will offer authentic and transformative opportunities for high school students to experience personal growth while immersed in a different culture abroad; however, little empirical research has been done on adolescent students to explore and validate these assumptions. By examining the intersection of reciprocal international exchange, adolescence, and social class privilege, this study explored the developmental impact of exchange on privileged U.S. high school students.

One overarching question guided this qualitative study: “To what extent does participation in short-term reciprocal international student-to-student exchange facilitate the emergence of global citizen identity in U.S. students at an elite independent Catholic high school?” Accordingly, three research questions guided the study: 1) to what extent do students broaden their perspective of the global community and how is this demonstrated; 2) to what extent do students demonstrate care for their fellow human beings beyond their home community; and 3) to what extent do students internalize what they learned from their global experience by willingly embracing a global citizen identity?

This study purposefully selected a cross-section of 10 students who participated in the student-to-student reciprocal exchange program at an elite college-preparatory independent Catholic high school in northern California from 2012-2015. The research design highlighted by interviews and personal documents encouraged an exploration of developmental patterns by learning from students with a range of time and maturity to reflect upon their diverse experiences. Multiple qualitative methods generated information-rich data from the students themselves, as well as from parents and teachers, thus offering triangulation from varied perspectives.

Cosmopolitanism, cultural humility, and transformative learning theory provided conceptual lenses to analyze the findings. Students demonstrated many aspects of global citizen identity by building bridges of understanding to the global world through: fellowship, care, respect, insight, tolerance, empathy, service, risk-taking, and curiosity. The significance of this immersion opportunity was the creation of a positive disruptive event amidst the students’ adolescent development, thus promoting transformative development and opening new doors to the possibility of an identity rooted in global citizen values.

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