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Research Interests

Through my educational, professional, and personal experiences, I have developed various research interests, including experiential approaches in multicultural learning and teaching, cross-culture/third culture kids' cultural intelligence and psychological resilience, social and professional development of international students and scholars in the United States, and integration of technology in Counselor Education. My primary research purposes are to explore and examine social, cultural, emotional, and sexual development of underrepresented populations and to provide guidelines and information about culturally sensitive counseling approaches, interventions, and programs to counselor educators and helping professionals who work with diverse populations and communities.

Third Culture Kids

Choi, K., & Luke, M. (2011). A phenomenological approach to understanding early adult friendships of Third Culture Kids. Journal of Asia Pacific Counseling. 1(1), 47-60.(PDF)

My passion towards understanding international/multinational college populations and their unique social network characteristics begun with my counseling work experience as a counselor/advisor for international students from over 120 countries at Syracuse University. In particular, as a group facilitator and advisor for the SU Global Nomads, I met many Third Culture Kids (TCKs) (i.e., missionary kids, military kids, expatriate business kids), and I became more aware of TCKs' unique struggles, needs and assets. Dr. Luke and I have conducted research on early adult friendships of Third Culture Kids (TCKs). A phenomenology qualitative approach was used to explore the experiences of six TCK participants regarding their early adult friendships at one midsize university in the United States. TCK participants identified making a friend as the most challenging issue in their adjustment to the United States. Four themes emerged from the participants' narrative, with four illustrative metaphors drawn from the participants' own words to describe the psychosocial phenomenon related to forming their friendships, including: (1) a sense of restlessness: a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, (2) a desire for stimulation: being half way there, (3) coping strategies to compensate or manage a lack of friendship: filling the void, and (4) multiple identities and multiculturalism: being chameleon-like. Findings suggested that the notion of friendship might need to be re-constructed when applied to TCKs who describe distinctive social and cultural experiences that are influenced by frequent multicultural transitions.

Choi, K., Bernard, J. M., & Luke, M. (2013). Characteristics of friends of female college: Third Culture Kids. Asia Pacific Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy. DOI: 10.1080/21507686.2013.779931.(PDF)

Choi, K., Luke, M., & Bernard, J. M. (2015). Being connected: A friendship comparison among U.S., international, and third culture college students. In S. Benjamin & F. Dervin (Ed.), Beyond “Third Culture Kids”(pp. 165-186). Cambridge: Polity.

This study used Q methodology to examine similarities and differences in terms of the characteristics of closest friends among three cultural subgroups classified based on their transnational transit experiences. The three groups included the first culture (e.g., domestic students), the second culture (e.g., international students), and the third culture college students. The research question was "To what extent are college third culture kids (CTCKs) different from or similar to non-CTCKs, in the qualities or behaviors they identify as characteristic of their closest friends?" As a result, the specific preferences were organized as three groups: functionally connected (friend as resource - low level of closeness and high level of personal stimulation), socially connected (friend as playmate - high level of activity and low level of personal stimulation), and emotionally connected (friend as nurturer and complement - high level of closeness and low level of activity). The results showed that each cultural group showed strong preferences on different factors. In particular, majority of the CTCK participants were identified with functionally connected (friend as resource) factor. Findings suggested the CTCK population could serve as a multicultural bridge among diverse cultural groups on U.S campuses to promote diversity using their social and cultural strengths.

Lee, S., Oh, I., & Choi, K. (2015). Analysis of the structural relations of the time of leaving Korea, social support, acculturation stress and acculturation among Korean Cross-Culture Kids (CCKs). Secondary Education Research, 63(2), 253-281. Retrieved from http://kiss.kstudy.com/journal/thesis_name.asp

Globalization in Counseling

Paredes, D. M., Choi, K., Dipal, M., Edwards-Joseph, A. R. A. C., Ermakov, N., Gouveia, A. T., Jain, S., Koyama, C., Hinkle, J. S., & Benshoff, J. M. (2008). Globalization: A brief primer for counselors. The International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling. 30(3), 155-166.(PDF)

I was very fortunate to have been selected as one of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) International Fellows in 2005. I had a great experience working with other NBCC-International Fellows and counseling professionals from all over the world. I would like to continue developing collaborative research partnerships with various counseling programs, universities and local communities to promote diversity and benefit those who live in under-privileged communities and countries.

Experiential Learning in Counseling / international education

Choi, K. (2013). Inside-out approach to multicultural competence. The OCA Guidelines Newsletter, 4-6.(PDF)

Choi, K., VanVoorhis, W. R., & Ellenwood, E. A. (2015). Enhancing critical consciousness through a cross-cultural immersion experience in South Africa. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 43(4), 244-261. doi:10.1002/jmcd.12019.

One of my current research projects involves the perceptions and experiences of graduate counseling students who participated in an international immersion project in South Africa using a phenomenological approach. Analysis of interviews with counseling graduate students revealed a five-stage international immersion process from preconception, initial culture shock, cultural assimilation, re-entry culture shock, to continued multicultural growth and integration. Each phase was illustrated with distinctive emotional, cognitive, and behavioral characteristics that the students collectively described. Findings suggested that understanding different phases of student's experience during an immersion learning process offers insights to counselor educators for designing and implementing an international immersion project as an experiential teaching method to enhance multicultural learning among graduate counseling students.

International Students / Group Counseling: Global Perspectives

Choi, K., & Protivnak, J. J. (submitted to The Journal of Specialist in Group Work). Collective cultural knowledge building: Experiences of support group leaders for international students on U.S. campuses.

Choi, K., Cadle, A. M., Madden, R., & Markowitz, R. J. (2013). Multicultural development through facilitating support groups for international students. The OCA Guidelines Newsletter.(PDF)

Another research project was initiated to gain an understanding of development of experiential knowledge and skills in multiculturalism among graduate counseling students through facilitating support groups for international students. The collaborative project, Global Perspectives: International Student Support Groups was developed in conjunction with various student affairs functional areas (the Office of Housing and Residence Life, the Reading and Study Skills Center, the Center for International Studies, and the English Language Institute). Master's level counseling students were invited to facilitate support groups for international students. A qualitative study was conducted with six counseling students who led international students support groups and participated in the qualitative phenomenological study. Weekly journal entries and focus groups explored how this experiential learning impacted the students' development of multicultural competencies and how they conceptualized the experience. The four primary themes that emerged from the counseling students' experience included (a) source of cultural knowing, (b) collective knowledge building, (c) understanding cultural layers, and (d) sense of cultural agency. The findings suggest that the groups provided experiential learning opportunities for counseling students both to enhance multicultural knowledge, awareness, and skills through interacting with international students, and to have an opportunity to lead a culturally sensitive support group.

Current Research

Choi, K., & Ronquillo, M. L. (in progress). Examining intersectionality: Narratives of international lesbian students in the United States.

Choi, K., & Oh, I. (in progress). Examining the coming out experiences of sexual minority college students in South Korea.

The current research examines the experiences of gay and lesbian college students who are currently studying in South Korea. In particular, "coming out" process for many Korean gay and lesbian students is hindered by various social and legal issues, including homophobia, internalized homophobia, stigma, isolation, and discrimination in the Korea society. The current research identify the complexity of various factors, including microsocial context, gender norms, socialization, culture, religious identity, sexual prejudice and privilege, and development statuses and how these factors become as challenges, barriers, support, and resources for these students experience dealing with their sexual minority status in South Korea. The researchers hope to provide insights and suggestions for counselor educators, college counselors, and student affairs professionals to better serve gay and lesbian students and create a safe campus for all.

Paylo, J. M., Protivnak, J. J., Choi, K., & Makoski, C. (submitted to The Journal of College and University Student Housing). Residence life professionals as mental health first responders.

Pusateri, C., Protivnak, J. J., Paylo, J. M., & Choi, K. (accepted to The Journal of College Counseling). College counseling and appalachia.