Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Frankie Santos Laanan


This qualitative study explored how ethnic identity, perceived obligations, and an unresolved conflict of home influenced the decision of Tibetan Scholarship Program (TSP) participants to return back to the exile community per their commitment or to make a new life in North America after their program completion. The research focused on three major questions: (a) How do moral and spiritual obligations perceived in Tibetans living in the diaspora influence their cultural identity and, as a result, their decision-making process?, (b) How is the decision of Tibetan Scholarship Program (TSP) students to return or migrate guided by opposing influences?; (c) How does the Tibetan people's status as a diasporic people impact their connectivity to their exiled home and thus their perception of home?

Participants were purposefully selected from a pool of former TSP scholars who had responded to a pilot study survey and who represented both students who had returned as well as those who decided to migrate. Data gathered from semistructured interviews, as well as from survey results and a review of documents, were analyzed and coded into four major themes: (a) Searching for Self: Tibetan Identity; (b) Searching for Answers: Influences on Decision-Making; (c) Searching for Resolution: Inner Conflict; and (d) Searching for Belonging: Perception of Home. The findings illuminated the complex nature and multiple affiliations of Tibetan exiles and further examined the opposing influences TSP scholars negotiated as they searched for a place to call home. Implications, including specific suggestions for practice and recommendations for future research, were also presented.


Copyright Owner

Kristi Marchesani



File Format


File Size

193 pages