EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITIES OF TRANSNATIONAL MIGRATION
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 of 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.