Staff Publications

Understanding the Lived Experiences of Expatriate Educators in Postsecondary Education in China

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In an era of globalization and increased global mobility, China’s Open Door policies and efforts to recruit foreign educators provide opportunities for expatriate educators to teach in China’s higher education system. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of and provide an interpretation for how expatriate educators experience living in China and teaching in higher education. I conducted this study through a hermeneutic phenomenological method. The study sample consisted of 16 United States expatriate educators who live and work in China’s higher education system at 5 institutions in 3 cities. Qualitative data were gathered through in-depth interviews and analyzed to describe and interpret the expatriate educators’ lived experiences. The study showed the complexity of the educators’ experiences through the transition and adjustment intersections of culture, communication, relationships, employment, and faith. Findings from the study reveal tacit knowledge from expatriate educators who have extended tenure living in China and teaching in foreign higher education. The findings also inform administrators, international scholars, and NGOs that send or support faculty members who teach abroad. Detailed discussion of implications for practice, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research is provided.


China, expatriate educators, phenomenology, NGO, adjustment, metaphors, faith, culture shock, expectations, TCK, global mobility