Blog Archives

Deep culture

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.



Details, please.

Dr. Woolf’s relfections on the meaning of community

An enjoyable read on what “community” means today, particularly with all the niche communities that are now at our fingertips. I disagree, however, that “If we have a sense of belonging to something, it tends to be independent of geography.” Part of what I often miss being abroad is interacting in the physical communities I know from the US, and some of my greatest joys here are when I feel a part of the geographical communities.

The American West

And speaking of geographically based communities, the managing editor at the High Country News has written about differing views on what the “American West” really is or should be. Reminds me of my Whitman class about the “New West” (before it was a semester long trip).

Wildlife habitats in US cities

Explains growing focus on efforts in US cities to provide a variety of follage specifically for wildlife. I wish they had included more information on this claim: “Urban ecology and urban wildlife programs are also proliferating on university campuses.” Nevertheless it is exciting to see positive action in cities since urban wildlife, particularly birds, are many people’s first and primary exposure to nature.

Study abroad has to be revolutionary

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.

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