Based on my own research interest, I decided to initiate this project with my advisor support. This project is called: “Understanding Information Needs and Challenges faced by International Spouses during Adjustment”.
The project examines ways in which technology can be designed to provide support and services to international spouses during their adjustment to a new host environment. In particular, we would like to investigate the needs of spouse’s communities, the challenges faced by this population during adjustment, and propose design implications for developing systems and services to improve their access to social services and to promote community development and civic engagement.
The continued growth of international students coming to U.S. for higher education had significantly impacted institutions and the communities that host those students. According to Penn State News report, there are more than 7,728 international students across campus (Penn State News, 2016). Many of these students are accompanied by dependents (spouses and/or children) when they move to the U.S. However, as newcomers in a host country, international students face various challenges. Specifically, spouses who come holding an F-2 dependent status face the challenge imposed by their immigration status. F-2 dependents-spouse cannot work under any circumstances (Dependents, 2013). Therefore, spouses may face challenges such as language and communication problems, isolation and loneliness, and problems with daily tasks and living management in the new environment (Oh & Butler, 2007; Brown, Ayo & Grinter, 2014). In this project, we will investigate the needs and challenges faced by international spouses during adjustment in their new host environment. We also want deepen our understanding about spouses’ current living experience in the new host environment, and examine ways to help spouses community overcome current barriers and improve their inclusion in their local context. Using an iterative, human-centered design approach, we will conduct interviews and promote focus group discussion sessions to investigate mechanisms that will allow spouses to improve their adaptation process and support their social inclusion in the local community.
Our goal is to propose a system design that will help international spouses to increase their community orientation and improve their access to local social services. The design requirements built upon these themes will be used to design technical systems that can support international spouses to engage in social activities and help them to connect with local community members.
This project is ongoing. We are still investigating opportunities for research!
- International Spouses Event
- Location: New Leaf Initiative
- A total of 11 participants joined our event
- Location: Starbucks and Schlow Library
- 4 interviews
- Total: 15 participants
- Most important challenges/needs as a spouse of an international student since they arrived in State College:
- Language Barrier
- Adjusting to a new life – Get Information
- Making Friends
- Ideas to improve spouses experience in the local community:
- Group to share studying material, books, activities to study (study partners)
- Share information by Google drive, Webpage, Gmail group
- Mentor programs – share professional services (Skillshare model)
- Suggestions to improve the ways of engagement within the local community:
- Increase the cultural awareness for professors and staff (Office of Affirmative Action – offer training)
- Spouse projects – what do we want to get out of our time here? How do we collaborate to create items to leave behind to better our community.
Stay tuned for more information!
Brown, D., Ayo, V., & Grinter, R. E. (2014, April). Reflection through design: immigrant women’s self-reflection on managing health and wellness. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1605-1614). ACM.
Dependents. (2013). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from https://global.psu.edu/info/internationals-psu/students/dependents
Oh, C. Y., & Butler, B. S. (2016). Newcomers from the other side of the globe: International students’ local information seeking during adjustment. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 53(1), 1-6.
Penn State News (2016, December 8). Penn State ranked 13th in the U.S. for international students enrolled. Retrieved May 18, 2017, from http://news.psu.edu/story/441079/2016/12/08/penn-state-ranked-13th-us-international-students-enrolled