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Transnational Making and Remaking of Education:
Private Supplementary Education in Korea and Korean America

How are educational norms, practices, and institutions shaped transnationally between Korea and the United States, the sending and receiving countries of immigration? To answer this question, I focus on Korean and Korean American students’ and parents’ usage of private supplementary education (PSE hereafter), for-profit, private education that takes place outside the schools, which includes private tutoring, college counseling, online courses, or classes that take place in physical institutions like hagwons. Drawing on 115 in-depth interviews with Korean and Korean American students, parents, and teachers in Seoul and Boston, I show how Asians of the same ethnic origin hold different values and norms regarding education, develop different strategies in navigating the same spaces, and shape one another’s experiences across national borders. The dissertation consists of four parts: first, I examine the educational norms and practices surrounding PSE in Korea, the sending country of immigration; second, I focus on the education of transnationally mobile Koreans, the transnational agents that move fluidly between sending and receiving countries of immigration and navigate education of both societies; third, I show how the education of long-time immigrants, Korean Americans, is shaped by the new educational norms and practices of the sending country that the transnationally mobile Koreans carry; and finally, I explore what educational norms and practices are transmitted to Korea from the U.S. and how Koreans localize them. This project contributes to studies of Asia and Asian America by demonstrating how Koreans and Korean Americans are transnationally connected, shaping each other’s norms, practices, and institutions. It also contributes to research in immigrant assimilation by challenging traditional approaches to assessing Asian American assimilation.

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