EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITIES OF TRANSNATIONAL MIGRATION

Adrienne Atterberry

PhD Candidate in Sociology

Why do highly educated, relatively affluent immigrants choose to leave their country of migration and return to their country of origin? How do they decide into which K-12 schools they should enroll their children? How does growing up in two national contexts shape the sense of cultural and national belonging Summer 2018 - Transnational Migrationof the children? These questions and others are examined in my dissertation project that focuses on the experiences of Indian American youth, which includes US citizens and permanent residents, who grew up in both India and the USA before reaching the age of majority.

While I did conduct some research in the USA, the majority of my research took place in Bangalore, a city in southwest India. I chose this location for my research because of its reputation as a global city that has western-style living and work amenities known to attract Indian Americans. Funded by a Fulbright Grant, I completed 67 interviews with high school and college students, as well as their parents and educators. Preliminary findings indicate that parents initially come to the USA to complete higher education or gain work experience. A mix of personal and professional circumstances encourages them to return to India where they have the task of figuring out how best to educate their children. When making the school-choice decision, parents take into consideration the school’s curriculum, student body, and where they would like their children to attend college. These factors lead some parents to enroll their children in an English-medium school that offers a national board, while others enroll their kids in a school that provides an international board examination. For transnationally mobile youth, this experience of growing up in both the USA and India results in feelings of differing degrees of belonging to both countries.

This research highlights the complexities of transnational migration in the lives of Indian American youth. It does so in an effort to provide deeper understanding as to how migration affects what it means to be a second-generation immigrant.