Over at “Communicating Across Boundaries” guest writer Jody Fernando posted “More Than a Tourist: Living Deeply Across Cultures.” Fernando’s post introduces us to the ideas of Joseph Shaules about getting more deep into cultures. I particularly enjoyed reading about “Engagement” and “Language Learning.” More of Shaules’ work can be found here, including a generous sample of his new book. It all reminds me of Melibee’s “How to Meet People Abroad” series posts. In the series we have made a determined effort to advise visitors to new cities about ways to enact such engagement with the local communities and get deeper into the culture(s). We’ve discussed Seattle, Paris, Lebanon, Dublin, Rabat, London, and more.
In May I started as the Coordinator for the Green Passport Program. The program encourages connecting study abroad (including interning and working) with sustainability and does this mainly through a pledge to focus students and travelers on green and culturally aware actions and by providing resources to both students and education abroad professionals. GP has a Facebook page and I have been working on getting the other resources available via a web page that will be ready soon. If anyone has any good resources that they would like to suggest please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If study abroad is not revolutionary for every student then why are they going? If it is just a fancy vacation, a night life tour of the world and not much more then it really is a waste of money, time, and resoures.
If it is does not incorporate the knowledge and concerns of the host communities, it might just as likely perpetuate the stereotypes it means to break down.
If this vein, Melibee Global and Amizade * have been busy putting together a website, BetterAbroad, aimed at helping education abroad professionals (as well as students, their families, faculty, and administration) pinpoint any weak spots in their program or its design and find resources on line to improve upon them. It is free. We have put a lot of work into organizing and weeding through a large amount of information, articles, videos, and activities available on the internet (and off), making sure that they are both useful and supportive of a goal of “quality over quantity”. We also drafted and redrafted the characteristics of “Better Abroad” style programming until we got them just right. Of course this is the debut and BetterAbroad hopes to be part of a larger conversation about quality in education abroad and will grow and change over time as more people get involved and add their experiences and opinions.
I’d love to hear what you think!
*Amizade has a great mission that they call “Fair Trade Learning” that is definately worth checking out.