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Narratives of student experience, reflection, and transformation in experiential, cross-cultural learning Tuffo, Kelly Marie 1994

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NARRATWES OF STUDENT EXPERIENCE, REFLECHON, ANDTRANSFORMATION IN EXPERIENTIAL, CROSS-CULTURAL LEARNINGbyKFTiY MARIE TUFFOBA. Hons., University of California, Berkeley, 1992A THESIS SUBM1TI’ED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Educational Studies)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNWERS1TY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1994© Kelly Marie Tuffo, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of therequirements for an advanced degree at the University of BritishColumbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely availablefor reference and study. I further agree that permission forextensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may begranted by the head of my department or by his or herrepresentatives. It is understood that copying or publication ofthis thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without mywritten permission.(SignatureDepartment of 4 t#io,1S S#tttiesThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate 2 ii-ber /91AbstractThis study is an investigation of the process of experiential, cross-cultural learning.Through in-depth interviews, twelve U.S. undergraduate students discussed their experiences insemester-long experiential cultural immersion programs in non-industrialized countriesapproximately one year after returning home. They recounted their experiences and reflected onthe ways in which these experiences led to personal transformation as a result of experiential,cross-cultural learning. The study also examined critical elements of this learning process andthe conditions that led to an increase in the intensity of cultural immersion. Three main areas ofthe learning process were examined: 1) critical relationships developed during the time abroadthat provided students with opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and emotional support 2)critical incidents and crises that challenged students’ cultural values and meaning perspectivesand created feelings of cultural marginality, and 3) consequent changes in students’ meaningperspectives resulting from their experiences and critical reflection. Theories of experientiallearning, experiential, cross-cultural learning, and Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformativelearning form the theoretical framework for this thesis.This learning process is found to have significant formative and transformative effects onstudents. Some changes that students experienced included increased self-awareness, valueclarification, improved levels of self-confidence, transformed meaning perspectives or worldviews, development of feelings of human and cultural reciprocity, and commitment to careergoals. The analysis of this learning process of young adults leads to some modification ofMezirow’s theory.This study provides in-depth insight into the student viewpoint of the experiential, crosscultural learning process, and informs the larger field of study abroad in terms of the experientialdynamics of all cultural immersion programs. In addition, this study sheds light on theapplication of Mezirow’s transformation theory to the learning of young adults.11Table of ContentsAbstract UTable of Contents iiiList of Tables viAcknowledgments viiChapter One: Framing the Study 1Introduction 1A Theoretical Framework 2Experiential Learning 4Experience 7Reflection 7Change 9Experiential, Cross-Cultural Learning 10Cross-Cultural Dialogue 13Cultural Marginality 14Transformation Learning Theory 16A Review of Empirical Studies 22Chapter Outlines 25Chapter Two: Methodology 27Introduction 27Description of Study 27Purpose 27Site Selection 28Selection of Participants 29Data Collection 30Researcher Role 32Discussion of Methodological Principles 33Methodological Validity and Reliability 37Reflections on Researcher Subjectivity 41Reflections on Narrative 42My Experience as an SiT Student in Zimbabwe 45Background 45Important Relationships 47Critical Incident 48Transformations 51Conclusion 52Chapter Three: The School for International Training’s CollegeSemester Abroad Program 54Introduction 54The Organization 54History 56College Semester Abroad 61Chapter Four: Participant Backgrounds 64Introduction 64Table 1: A Summary of General Information of Participants 65Susan 66111Megan 68Greg 69Lisa 70Angela 71Brian 72Emily 74Danielle 75Nicole 77Jodie 79James 80Chris 82Conclusion 84Chapter Five: Relationships and Emotionally-Engaged Learning 86Introduction 86Homestays 86Relationships With People of the Host Culture 101Relationships With Other SIT Students 107Academic Directors 114Conclusion 120Chapter Six: Critical Incidents and Crisis 121Introduction 121Gender Relations 121Race Relations 129International Relations 138Culture Shock 145Re-entry 148Chapter Seven: Transformation 157Introduction 157Psychological Perspectives 158Self-Awareness and Value Clarification 158Self-Confidence 162Transformation 166Sociolinguistic Perspectives 169Reciprocity 169Academic Interests, Career, and Social Change 172Adventure Learning 178Chapter Eight: Conclusions 184Introduction 184Discussion of Research Questions 184Perspective Transformation 184Epistemic Perspective Transformation 186Sociolinguistic Perspective Transformation 187Psychological Perspective Transformation 190Conditions Leading to Perspective Transformation 192Conclusions: Reflections on the Social Context of This Study 199Multi-Leveled Reciprocity 199The Student Selection Process 203Implications of This Study 205Bibliography 208ivAppendix I: Organizational Structure and List of Programs for World Learning 213Appendix II: Letter of Introduction and Preliminary Questionnaire 215Appendix ifi: Interview Questions 218VList of TablesTable 1: A Summary of General Information of Participants 65Table 2: Constructs Grouped by Meaning Perspective 157 & 186viAcknowledgmentsI would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the participants in this study whoshared their time, thoughts, feelings, and experiences with me freely and openly. I wasprofoundly touched by their generosity of spirit and intrigued by their deep contemplation ofhumanity and culture. I would also like to thank my advisor, Dr. Peter Seixas for all the timeand patience he devoted to guiding me through the process of writing this thesis. I willremember his natural grace and ability as a teacher and educator for a long time to come. Thanksalso go to Dr. Deirdre Kelly and Dr. Allison Tom who provided a great deal of assistance withthis project as members of my committee, and who, along with Peter, gently pushed me to refmemy analysis.I would like to thank the members of my family who are always a pillar of support forme in any project I attempt. This thesis truly would not be possible without their support. Theykept me going through the long days and nights at the computer. Thanks also go to LauraZeznik for her technical assistance. Finally, I would like to thank my lovely circle of friends inVancouver and in Educational Studies who offered an incredible amount of support and sufferedendless hours of listening to me obsess over my thesis, particularly Kathy Fox, Elizabeth Reilly,Paul Ridding, and Michael Marker. All of these people have helped me to learn and grow inmany new and exciting ways, and I am eternally grateful.viiChanter One: Framing the StudyIntroductionThis is the process whereby people become aware that the meaning system thatthey have imposed upon their life world is not the only system and that thereare alternative systems of meaning. Having become aware that their originalsystem is not necessarily the only one, or the best one for them, they mightrethink their position and then try to act upon the world in order to transform it.(Jarvis, 1987, p. 204)In the fall of 1990, during my junior year of college, I traveled to Zimbabwe toparticipate in the School for International Training’s College Semester Abroad program. Thiswas an enlightening and transformative experience. The personal growth and change that Iexperienced during this semester as a result of living, studying, and traveling abroad haveintrigued me ever since. I find myself continually processing and reflecting on theseexperiences, even though four years have passed. I have developed an entirely newperspective and world view as a result of my relationships, encounters, and cross-culturallearning during my time abroad.The intensity of this experience has led me to pursue a career in experiential education.I am particularly interested in experiential, cross-cultural learning as a result of my ownexperiences, and for this thesis, I have chosen to study the student perspective of this learningprocess. This research has allowed me to reflect further on my own learning experiences inZimbabwe and has also functioned as a form of career training in cross-cultural education,particularly in terms of the student learning process. It has enabled me to reflect specificallyon the role of an Academic Director in programs such as these, and to develop my ownphilosophy of teaching within that role.This study poses two main questions:1) As a result of an experiential, cross-cultural immersion experience in a non-industrializedcountry, what changes do U.S. undergraduate students undergo in relation to their ideas about:a) the Third World and international issues, b) their own values, and c) their own life plans? Ifstudents are transformed by this learning process, what is the nature of this transformation?12) What elements of the experiential, cross-cultural immersion experience are crucial in thestudent’s change process? In particular, under what circumstances do the emotional andinterpersonal involvement of students in the host culture have a transformative effect on theirintellectual and personal development? How do individual differences among students inbackground, knowledge, and values affect their experience of the change process? What effectdoes the process of re-entry and re-integration into the home culture have on thetransformation process?In order to research these questions, I interviewed 12 participants of the School forInternational Training College Semester Abroad programs in non-industrialized countriesapproximately one year after their return to the United States. This thesis is a discussion ofthese students’ experiences as portrayed in these in-depth interviews.A Theoretical FrameworkThe contemporary field of study abroad is composed of an assortment of educationalprograms. These programs vary in terms of learning objectives as well as format in attemptingto meet the diverse needs of many kinds of students. Variety in types of instruction, location,length of the program, student ages and backgrounds, program activities, subject of study, theintensity of immersion, and academic requirements make each study abroad program unique.For example, some study abroad programs consist of study at a foreign institution with whichthe home university has an exchange contract. In other programs, a home university may havean extension program in a foreign country at which students can study. Still other programsoperate as independent organizations specializing in study abroad, from which students cantransfer their academic credits to their home university. In addition, students may enrollindependently at universities or colleges abroad, and attempt to transfer credits to a homeuniversity. Travel-study programs focus on travel through one or a number of countries andstudents are exposed to a variety of new places, as opposed to other programs which focus ondeep cultural immersion in one area (Freeman, 1964). Programs typically last anywhere froma few weeks to one semester to one year. Many institutions also have summer programs.2Students study abroad for a number of reasons, such as language immersion, to study aparticular subject, or to broaden a liberal arts education. Some programs emphasize oneacademic subject, such as art, history, or regional studies, while others accentuate cross-cultural learning and personal growth. Programs also differ in the degree of culturalimmersion with in the host culture. Some students may be left alone in an isolated, newenvironment for a prolonged period of time, while others learn surrounded by the support of angroup of students from their home culture, and the group experiences immersion in a hostculture as a unit.Goodwin and Nacht (1988) identify ten educational and social goals and potentialaccomplishments used to justify various study abroad programs. These objectives are: 1) tocreate “cultured” citizens and instill certain cultural attributes in young people of a particularsocial class, 2) to broaden the intellectual elite, 3) to foster personal growth through exposureto a foreign environment, 4) to fulfill a distinctive institutional mission, such as religiousinstitutions, 5) to explore family roots, 6) to master a foreign language, 7) to study aspecialized subject matter, 8) to gain self-insight, 9) to learn from others, and 10) to improveinternational relations.Within the host cultural environment, study abroad programs may consist of academicstudy or structured, educative experiences. Commonly, a mixture of both of these approachesis used with emphasis on one or the other. This particular research study examines cross-cultural learning through experiential education which is enhanced by academic instruction. Inparticular, this study explores the nature and results of experiential, cross-cultural learningwithin the environment of a non-industrialized society in which a group of U.S. students areimmersed as a unit, with some opportunities for short-term, isolated immersion.Three learning theories form the theoretical basis of this study: experiential learningtheory, experiential cross-cultural learning theory, and transformative learning theory. Each ofthese learning theories is applicable to a number of different learning situations; they are3concerned largely with the format and components of learning as opposed to the learningcontext.Experiential LearningExperiential education is even more diverse than the field of study abroad.Experiential learning can be used in the study of any subject matter, and can vary widely in thedegree of intensity and structure of experience and reflection. In the midst of this ambiguity,many theorists have attempted to create an understanding and defmition of experientiallearning. John Dewey is considered to be one of the founding theorists of this concept. InExperience and Education (1938), Dewey discusses the organic connection between educationand personal experience, and cautions educators to distinguish between educative and mis-educative experiences (p. 25). However, beyond the initial connection of experience andeducation and a discussion of standards, he does not formulate an actual definition ofexperiential learning.More recent educators have endeavored to compose coherent definitions of experientiallearning. Many theorists use stage theory to describe this learning process. While this isuseful in understanding the various components of experiential learning, it does not imply thatall students experience the learning process in the same order or without variety. Coleman(1976) distinguishes between information assimilation and experiential learning through stagetheory. The information assimilation process begins with receiving information through asymbolic medium, such as a lecture or a book. Next, the information or general principle isassimilated by the learner. The learner then attempts to apply the general principle to aparticular instance. Finally, the learner moves “from the cognitive and symbolic sphere to thesphere of action” (p. 51). The information or general principle is acted upon as it becomespractical in everyday life.The process of experiential learning, in turn, is an almost reverse sequence ofinformation assimilation. First, the learner has an experience, whether it be an action orobservation of an event, and observes its effects. Next, the learner seeks to understand these4effects of the experience, and then seeks to understand the general principle behind theexperience, to generalize about a number of related situations and instances. Finally, thelearner applies this principle through action in new, related circumstances (Coleman, 1976,pp. 5 1-52). In spite of the differentiation between information assimilation and experientiallearning for the purpose of definition, Coleman explains that the two are not mutuallyexclusive of one another, and that an appropriate mix must be found between the two forms oflearning (Coleman, 1982, pp. 58-60).Joplin (1981) presents a similar five part model of experiential learning. She specifiesthat experiential education by definition must provide the learner with an experience, as wellas facilitate reflection on that experience. Both of these elements are essential to theexperiential learning process. Joplin’s five part model begins with the first element, focus.The student is focused on a certain task and prepared for acting on that task. In the secondpart, the student is immersed in a stressful, challenging, unavoidable situation, “often in anunfamiliar environment requiring new skills or the use of new knowledge” (p. 18). The thirdand fourth components, support and feedback, exist throughout the entire process to encourageand inform the student. In the fmal stage in the process, the student is debriefed, and thelearning is recognized, articulated, evaluated, and reflected upon through discussion (Joplin,1981, p. 19). Doherty, Mentkowski, and Conrad (1978) combine the stage theories of Kolb(1976a) and Argyris and Schon (1974) to present a five stage model of experiential learning inwhich 1) concrete experience, subjected to 2) observation and reflection reveals 3) a learner’stheory in use, which through modification as a result of reflection on experience leads to 4) thedevelopment of a new espoused theory, followed by 5) the testing of the new espoused theoryin new situations, leading back to concrete experience. In short, experiential educationsignifies a learning process composed of three major components: 1) experience and 2)reflection, resulting in 3) change.Other researchers have articulated more succinct definitions of experiential learning.For example, Conrad and Hedin (1982) describe the process as one where, “students are in5new roles featuring significant tasks with real consequences, and where the emphasis is onlearning by doing with associated reflection” (p. 58). Gager (1982) theorizes, “I believe thatthe process of learning by experience occurs when the learner is placed into a demandingreality context which necessitates the mastery of new applied skills followed immediately byresponsible, challenging action coupled with an opportunity for critical analysis and reflection”(p. 33). Finally, Keeton and Tate (1978) defme the process as, “learning in which the learneris directly in touch with the realities being studied. It is contrasted with learning in which thelearner only reads about, talks about, or writes about these realities but never comes in contactwith them as part of the learning process” (p. 2).In addition to defining experiential learning, theorists have also described a number ofconditions inherent in the experiential learning process. Experiential learning is process-centered as opposed to outcome-centered. Students learn from the process of learning inaddition to learning about the subject matter (Joplin, 1981; Koib, 1984; Proudman, 1992). Itis a cyclical process which leads to the creation of a unique continuum of experience for eachlearner. The continuum of experience creates the outlook through which all other experiencesare judged, learned, and understood (Dewey, 1938; Kolb, 1984). Experiential learning is aholistic process of adaption to the world, and it encourages learners to gain perspective on the“big picture” (Joplin, 1981; Kolb, 1984; Proudrnan, 1992; Wallace, 1977). It focuses on thestudents as opposed to the teacher. The teacher is not considered to be an expert, purveyor oftruth, or mediator between the student and the world (Chapman, 1992; Joplin, 1981;Proudman, 1992). Experiential learning recognizes that students have multiple learning styles,and that they arrive at the learning situation with varying backgrounds and levels of readiness(Gager, 1982; Kolb, 1976b; Proudman, 1992). The process involves meaningful relationshipsbetween the learner and self, the learner and teacher, the learner and other learners, and thelearner and the learning environment (Coleman, 1982; Kolb, 1984; Proudman, 1992). Thestudent has a great deal of control over the learning process through initiative, responsibility,and decision making (Proudman, 1992).6ExperienceThere are a number of criteria for structuring experiences in experiential education.Experiences should be challenging, intense, and demanding, and should force students out oftheir comfort zones. Students should be placed in new roles where they must master new tasksand skills. They should be presented with conflicts that they must resolve, creatingopportunities for personal transformational growth. Students should gain a feeling of masteryand improved self-esteem as a result of accomplishment (Coleman, 1982; Conrad and Hedin,1982; Gager, 1982; Hansel and Grove, 1984; Koib, 1984; Proudman, 1992; Wallace, 1977).These experiences should also be of a personal nature in order to create intrinsic motivation inthe students. Students should be impelled into action by subject content which is relevant andmeaningful to them. They should be emotionally engaged by purposeful endeavors thatinvolve their minds, bodies, and feelings so that the learning is not easily forgotten (Boud,Keogh, and Walker, 1985; Coleman, 1976; Gager, 1982; Joplin, 1981; Proudman, 1992;Wallace, 1977). Intellectual understanding should be combined with emotional and affectiveunderstanding (Silckema and Niyekawa, 1987).Experiential learning requires relationships to shape experience and reflection, and toprovide support and feedback. The creation of these relationships promotes cooperation andtrust among students and educators in a learning environment. As students discuss theirlearning experiences within these relationships, they can determine the creation of collectiveexperience, which is built of a number of individual, personal experiences, and which can thenbe used as a basis for critical reflection and social change.ReflectionExperience alone does not constitute experiential learning; reflection is a vitalcomponent in the process. Reflection can incorporate theory building, generalization, abstractconceptualization, dialogue, and the making of meaning. Reflection is shaped by the ideologyof culture and society, and in turn, shapes that ideology in a cyclical process (Kemmis, 1985,p. 140). Optimally, reflection denotes a critical process of re-examination of the values and7social context which shape experience. Reflection is preferably moved and shaped by studentperceptions, evaluations, and conclusions rather than by academic theory, and is an essentialcomponent of experiential learning (Boud, Keogh, and Walker, 1985; Chapman, 1992; Joplin,1981; Proudman, 1992). Change resulting from experience and reflection entails theintegration of new experience and meaning into a student’s continuum of experience, resultingin a new understanding and world view, or meaning perspective. Change can refer to personaltransformation or social transformation, or both. The social, historical, cultural, and politicalcontext of experience shapes the learning process. Culture can determine the content ofexperience and the ideology which shapes reflection.In this study of crucial elements of the student change process in experiential cross-cultural learning, it is also interesting to examine the connection between personal reflection,in which students reflect on the meaning of an experience within the context of their personallives, and critical reflection, in which students determine the place of the experience in largersocial, political, historical, and cultural contexts. When transformative learning takes place,personal reflection and growth can in some instances be associated with critical reflection andthe individual’s participation in social change.Reflection is a political and social process, as well as an individual process. It involves“contextually relevant” thinking which connects community members to one another, as wellas to their culture and environment which give their lives meaning. This may result in praxis,or committed action informed by critical reflection (Kemmis, 1985, pp. 140-141).Kemmis defines reflection as:...a dialectical process: it looks inward at our thoughts and thought processes,and outward at the situation in which we find ourselves; when we consider theinteraction of the internal and external, our reflection orients us for furtherthought and action. Reflection is thus ‘meta-thinking’ (thinking about thinking)in which we consider the relationship between our thoughts and action in aparticular context....We pause to reflect because some issue arises whichdemands that we stop and take stock or consider before we act. We do sobecause the situation we are in requires consideration: how we act in it is amatter of some significance. We become aware of ourselves, in some small orlarge way, as agents of history; we become aware that how we act willinfluence the course of events, at least for ourselves and usually for others too.(p. 141)8Kemmis asserts six points about reflection and the study of reflection:1) Reflection is not a purely ‘internal’, psychological process: it is actionoriented and historically embedded.2) Reflection is not a purely individual process: like language, it is a socialprocess.3) Reflection serves human interests; it is a political process.4) Reflection is shaped by ideology; in turn, it shapes ideology.5) Reflection is a practice which expresses our power to reconstitute social lifeby the way we participate in communication, decision-making and socialaction.6) Research methods which fail to take into account these aspects of reflectionare, at best, limited and , at worst, mistaken; to improve reflection, the study ofreflection must explore the double dialectic of thought and action, theindividual and society. (Kemmis, 1985, p. 140)The danger of relativist reflection necessitates the distinction between reflection whichconnects personal experience with the collective, and reflection limited to one’s own personalexperience and identity.ChangeThere are four main objectives among programs in the field of experiential education.These consist of personal development and growth in students; group consciousness raising,community development, and social change; changing the structures, purposes, and curriculaof education; and assessment and accreditation of life and work experience in order to createnew routes into higher education and employment opportunities for adults (Weil & McGill,1989). These goals often overlap, and one program may subscribe to some or all of the givenobjectives.The largest and most significant formal, quantitative research study conducted onexperiential learning thus far is the “National Assessment of Experiential Education” (Conradand Hedin, 1982). This U.S. study assessed 27 experience-based educational programs. Itquantitatively measured the impact of these programs on the social, psychological, andintellectual development of secondary students, and demonstrates the third component ofexperiential learning: change. Program directors specified what they believed to be the effectsof their programs from which the researchers developed a list of outcomes of experientiallearning. Students then rated themselves concerning these outcomes on a questionnaire. The9study showed a significant positive impact on all three areas of development, more than thatproduced by classroom instruction alone. Concerning psychological development, studentsshowed increase in their self-esteem and moral reasoning. In terms of social development,students exhibited gains in their sense of competence, social efficacy, and duty. They alsomoved towards taking responsible action as opposed to simply having responsible attitudes.These students developed more positive attitudes towards the people with whom theyinteracted, and strongly valued being active in the community as a result of the programs.Students also gained increased knowledge about work and career options. Consideringintellectual development, a large majority of students reported that they learned more in theexperiential program than in traditional classroom learning. Students also improved in theirproblem-solving abilities. In accordance with experiential learning theory, many students andpractitioners attest to transformation resulting from experiential learning, and this studyverifies that experiential learning has a positive and significant impact on students.Experiential Cross-Cultural LearningExperiential cross-cultural learning refers to the process of learning about a new culturethrough experiential learning and cultural immersion, where a student lives within a newcultural environment. Learning and living within a foreign culture help to expand the student’sknowledge of both the host and home cultures. Experiential cross-cultural learning differsfrom study at a university in a foreign country, in which academic learning is emphasized, orfrom travel in a foreign country, in which a student makes mostly superficial personal contactwith people of a new culture. It consists of structured experiences designed to challenge thestudent with a new culture and to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. Through interaction withpeople of a different culture, a student can observe new communication codes, recognize his orher own, and develop relationships which personalize understanding of the host culture.Experiential, cross-cultural learning also endeavors to create a global perspective instudents. This perspective is invaluable for young adults in a modern world composed ofglobal economic, political, and ecological systems (Kniep, 1987, p. 146). “If young people10are to be truly informed about their world, their education must engage them in inquiry aboutthe causes, the effects, and the potential solutions to the global issues of our time” (Kniep,1987, P. 151). These issues include development issues, such as subsistence and the economicgrowth of peoples and nations; peace and security issues of countries throughout the world;environmental issues, including the effects of human exploitation of the earth and humanresponsibility for the management of environmental resources; and human rights issues.Students must also learn about the history of the world in terms of the relations andinterdependence of countries internationally (Kniep, 1987, p. 156). Ideally, this type ofeducation leads to action as a “global citizen.”The challenge of global citizenship, then, is to engage Canadians in ways thatare persuasive and to enlist their involvement in constructive change. Theglobal citizen is informed, critical and active in community affairs, whetherlocal, national, or global. He or she understands that in any community thedominant groups convey what it means to be a citizen, and he or she is willingto confront the power of those groups. (Schuyler and Schuyler, 1989, p. 160)Experiential, cross-cultural learning is one way to generate global perspectives andcitizenship in students. Neff (1981) explains the importance of cultural immersion inexperiential, cross-cultural learning:Cross-cultural experiential learning can be defined as the acquisition of skills,knowledge, and competencies through a learner’s contact with and reflectionupon the direct realities of a host society....Cioss-cultural experiential educationis preeminently integrative in nature. The student connects with the hostculture at all levels of his being. Such programs offer opportunities for theacquisition of factual knowledge, for synthesizing data, determining patterns ofmeaning, developing powers of independent observation, and for theapplication of knowledge and understanding to the immediate situations athand. At the same time, the student is provided opportunities for greater self-confidence, awareness, and understanding of his or her own culture and values;for the testing of effective patterns in interacting with people and situations; anda corresponding potential for the development of personal maturity andcapacities in the learning process itself. (p. 3)In conjunction with the development of a global perspective, students may also gain maturityand personal development through cultural immersion.Cross-cultural learning experiences can be both structured and unstructured. Oftenprograms initiate structured situations with the hope that these will spur unstructured learningexperiences. Structured experiences include homestays, study tours, discussion panels, and11work camps. Unstructured experiences consist of unplanned interactions with people andevents within the new cultural environment. Both structured and unstructured cross-culturalexperiences challenge the student’s own cultural understanding, beliefs, and behavior. Theychallenge students’ previous experiences within their own cultures, causing them to re-evaluateprevious reflection on those experiences. Cross-cultural experiential learning can also causestudents to significantly modify their world views.Hansel (1993) specifies nine stages of an adjustment cycle in the experiential, cross-cultural study abroad experience: 1) preparation, 2) arrival, 3) settling in, 4) deepening therelationship, 5) culture shock, 6) the holidays, 7) culture learning, 8) pre-departure, and, 9)readjustment. [Note: Stage 6 refers to winter Holidays in December, and is in reference to theapplication of this model to year-long programs.] These stages of experience are relativelystandard for all students, but they vary in terms of the depth in which each stage occurs.Hansel and Grove (1984) argue that cultural immersion accelerates learning and thegrowth of competence in students. As students are exposed to new ways of life, their physicalsenses are constantly discovering new information and stimulating the brain. This leads to anincrease in learning and memory. Once students have gained knowledge about the host cultureand the new way of life becomes familiar, they become more competent in living in the newculture, and therefore become more self-confident. This creates a positive attitude towardslearning. Students also gain competence through maldng decisions and solving problems.They are confronted with a variety of options and solutions from which they are able to makewise and educated decisions. Since students are outsiders in the host culture, they are in agood position to learn through observation since they can observe things that are unnoticeableto cultural insiders. Finally, students are placed in a number of situations where they candevelop relationships with people of the host culture, enabling them to engage in cultural andlinguistic learning.12Cross-Cultural DialogueIn an experiential cross-cultural learning situation, students often come to understandthe experiences of people from a host culture, as well as the social, political, cultural, andhistorical contexts in which they occur, through dialogue. At the same time, students canexplore the forces that shape their own past experiences and meaning perspectives. Thisprocess can lead to increased understanding and open dialogue across cultures. Significantrelationships in the learning process facilitate this in-depth dialogue and reflection. Oncestudents see similarities between themselves and others and develop emotional attachments topeople in the host culture, they may become more apt to recognize and confront the socialproblems faced by those people. In addition, as students recognize differences between theirown culture and the new culture, they may gain insight into themselves as they recognize howtheir own personal characteristics and values result from their cultural upbringing. Thisprocess can provoke perspective transformation.Each person’s individual experiences are significant within the social structure and thelarger context of collective experience. Theoretically, the experiential, cross-cultural learningprocess facilitates acceptance of cultural diversity by generating continual cross-culturaldialogue. As students develop emotional and interpersonal relationships with people of a hostcountry, both people in the relationship share experiences and engage in dialogue with oneanother, through which their principles and meaning perspectives are challenged.The interconnection between experience and critical reflection must lead to and extendout of dialogue. Dialogue is an experience in itself, as well as a form of reflection, in whichpeople meet on a common ground and speak in such a way as to transform one another (Bai,1993). Freire (1972) describes the necessity of dialogue in both the creation of community andculture.[Nb one can say a true word alone - nor can he [jç] say itfor another, in aprescriptive act which robs others of their words....If it is in speaking their wordthat men [jç.], by naming the world, transform it, dialogue imposes itself as theway by which men achieve significance as men. Dialogue is thus an existentialnecessity.... [Djialogue is the encounter in which the united reflection and actionof the dialoguers are addressed to the world which is to be transformed and13humanized...Self-sufficiency is incompatible with dialogue....I cannot think forothers or without others, nor can others think for me. (Freire, 1972, p. 76-79)Study abroad programs create opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and thedevelopment of cross-cultural relationships so that both participants can reflect on their ownexperiences from the perspective of an outsider, possibly leading them to understand their ownexperiences within the context of the experiences of others. Reflection and dialogue can beconsidered to be of extreme importance in the learning process, as they lead from theunderstanding of personal experience to the understanding of human experience (Janeway,1977, p. 7).Students are transformed through critical reflection on their experiences and actions.By connecting personal experience with the experiences of people from a new culture, astudent’s self-concept and world view may be challenged or transformed. Change in theconception of self can include changes in the student’s life plan or sense of purpose in life,improved self-understanding, better human relation skills, maturity, and enhanced decision-making skills. Through understanding the experiences of others, a student’s world view,cultural values, and political outlook may change.Cultural MarginalityThere are a number of optimum conditions for effective experiential, cross-culturallearning. Most importantly, students should be placed into challenging situations within anetwork of support. Michael Paige (1993) describes cross-cultural education aspsychologically challenging, both as a function of its content and as well as its pedagogy (p.3). He describes a number of conditions which increase the psychological intensity of cross-cultural experiences. These include: 1) a high degree of cultural difference between thesojourner’s home and host culture 2) a high degree to which the student negatively evaluatescultural differences 3) a high degree of ethnocentricity on the part of the student 4) a highdegree of ethnocentric behavior on the part of the host culture 5) a high degree of racism,sexism, or other prejudice in the host culture 6) low language skills on the part of the student7) a high degree to which language ability is essential to functioning in the host culture 8) a14high degree of immersion on the part of the student in the host culture 9) little access ofstudents to their own culture group 10) little prior, in-depth cross-cultural experience on thepart of the student 11) unrealistic student expectations of the host culture 12) being physicallydifferent from members of the host culture and feeling highly visible 13) feeling on the partof the student that part of his or her identity is invisible to the host culture 14) a feeling on thepart of the student of disrespect or undeserved recognition from the host culture 15) a lowdegree of power or control over cross-cultural situations.Many of these conditions can be described as cultural marginality. Mezirow (1991, p.174-177) notes that perspective transformation often occurs during an experience ofmarginality. He cites Musgrove (1977) who defined marginality as:...change from a former position which was accepted as self-evident andnormal, which was taken for granted, and presented itself as not in need offurther analysis. Change to a marginal position brings into question three basicingredients of reality: time, typicality, and preconstituted (recipe) knowledge.Marginal situations, at least when first encountered, make time, types, andrecipes problematic. (p. 7)Musgrove’s study of transformative learning through marginality is significant because of hisemphasis on two factors: that transformation as a result of marginality occurs more frequentlyin young adults as they are more open to new experiences than older adults, and significantothers are of overwhelming importance in the process of personal change, two points whichMezirow neglects to emphasize. Marginality places people in a standpoint from which theycan learn about a culture partly from the perspective of an outsider and partly from theperspective of an insider. Through their relations with people of a host culture, students gaininsight to the insider’s view of the host culture, as well as an outsider’s view of their homeculture, allowing the student to gain insight on both, as well as on the abstract concept ofculture itself. As Halsey (1990) explains, “When the process of dealing with culturaldifferences is part of a student’s everyday life, ‘culture’ is no longer an abstract concept” (p.205).15Transformation Learning TheoryTransformation theory, as defmed by Jack Mezirow (1991), helps to clarify the varioustypes of perspective transformation which can result from the cross-cultural, experientiallearning process. Mezirow’s transformation theory discusses mainly the learning of olderadults, because adults of this age are more likely to have reached a certain stage ofdevelopment in terms of context awareness, focus, goal awareness, critical reflectivity, andgreater integration of the cognitive dimensions of learning. However, Mezirow’s theory hassome bearing on the experiential and transformative learning of young adults, and in this studyI have applied transformation theory to a group of students in their early twenties.Mezirow advanced this theory in order to amend what he viewed as a missingdimension of psychological adult learning theories: an explanation of the making of meaningfrom experience. He explores this phenomenon within the context of constructivism, criticaltheory, and deconstructivism in social theory. Constructivism assumes that, “meaning existswithin ourselves...and that the personal meanings that we attribute to our experience areacquired and validated through human interaction and communication” (Mezirow, 1991, p.xiv). This assumption supports the assertion that what we make of the world is a function ofour past personal experiences.One principal goal of adult learning is:[To] be able to ‘name’ our reality, to know it divorced from what has been takenfor granted, to speak with our own voice. Thus it becomes crucial that theindividual learn to negotiate meanings, purposes, and values critically,reflectively, and rationally instead of passively accepting the social realitiesdefmed by others. Transformation theory provides a description of thedynamics of the way adults learn to do this. (Mezirow, 1991, p. 3)A major element of transformation learning theory is the concept of meaningperspectives. Meaning perspectives are frames of reference or selective codes which guideperception and comprehension. These function as a filter in the memory. The most significantform of transformation in learning is the transformation of meaning perspectives.I have chosen the term meaning perspective to refer to the structure ofassumptions within which one’s past experience assimilates and transforms newexperience. A meaning perspective is a habitual set of expectations that16constitutes an orienting frame of reference that we use in projecting oursymbolic models and that serves as a (usually tacit) belief system forinterpreting and evaluating the meaning of experience. (Mezirow, 1991, p. 42)Mezirow distinguishes three types of meaning perspectives: epistemic (the way weknow and how we use knowledge), sociolinguistic, and psychological. Each meaningperspective embodies a number of meaning schemes, or “specific knowledge, beliefs, valuejudgments, and feelings that constitute interpretations of experience” (p. 5-6). Meaningschemes are more open to transformation through reflection than meaning perspectives.Experience functions to reinforce or challenge personal meaning perspectives.Experience strengthens our personal meaning system by refocusing orextending our expectations about how things are supposed to be. We allow ourmeaning system to diminish our awareness of how things really are in order toavoid anxiety, creating a zone of blocked attention and self-deception.Overcoming limited, distorted, and arbitrarily selective modes of perceptionand cognition through reflection on assumptions that formerly have beenaccepted uncritically is central to development in adulthood.A crucial dimension of adult learning involves the process of justifyingor validating communicated ideas and the presuppositions of prior learning.Uncritically assimilated presuppositions may distort our ways of knowing,involving epistemic assumptions; our ways of believing, involving socialnorms, cultural or language codes, and social ideologies; and our ways offeeling, involving repressed parental prohibitions from childhood that controladult feelings and behavior through anxiety. It is within this process ofconsensually determining the conditions under which an expressed idea is trueor valid that problematic meaning schemes (specific knowledge, beliefs, valuejudgments, or feelings involved in making a interpretation) are confirmed ornegated and meaning perspectives (rule systems governing perception andcognition) are significantly restructured. (Mezirow, 1991, p. 5)Once meaning schemes or perspectives are challenged through experience, theirvalidity are tested through critical reflection. Critical reflection involves the rigorousassessment of students’ assumptions, expectations, and values. If these are found to bemistaken or ill-founded, new, more comprehensive, meaning schemes or perspectives can bedeveloped (Mezirow, 1991). Through critical reflection and interpretation, an old meaningperspective might be reconciled with new knowledge and experience, resulting in theformation of a new meaning perspective. The confrontation of distorted meaning perspectivescan be considered emancipatory learning (Mezirow, 1991, p. 87).17All critical reflection is appraisive rather than prescriptive or designative.Emancipatory learning is often transformative. In emancipatory learning, thelearner is presented with an alternative way of interpreting feelings and patternsof action; the old meaning scheme or perspective is negated and is eitherreplaced or reorganized to incorporate new insights. In emancipatory learningwe come to see our reality more inclusively, to understand it more clearly, andto integrate our experience better. Dramatic personal and social changesbecome possible when we become aware of the way that both our psychologicaland our cultural assumptions have created or contributed to our dependence onoutside forces that we have regarded as unchangeable (Mezirow, 1991, p. 88).This seems simple. An educator only needs to challenge a person’s culturalassumptions in order to induce reflection and change. However, as Goleman (1985, p. 24)points out, “every act of perception is an act of selection,” and the mind will resist and avoidanxiety as much as possible, resulting in selective perception and self-deception (cited inMezirow, 1991, p. 18). If an experience becomes too intense or threatening to a student’s wayof thinking, it will be blocked out or misinterpreted. Therefore, support and feedback areintegral elements in transformative learning.In theory, it appears likely that a cross-cultural immersion experience would lead to thetransformation of meaning perspectives. Cross-cultural students are confronted with foreigncultural norms and values which challenge their own personal and cultural meanings andperspectives. Students must adjust to a new culture and learn the cultural practices, beliefs,and local language. When they return to their home culture, they endeavor to reconcile thisnewly acquired knowledge and perspective with their previous cultural norms. Thisreconciliation can lead to the formation of new meaning perspectives. Cross-culturalimmersion gives students new meanings from which to judge their home culture. Beforestudying abroad, students usually have only their home culture’s values with which to judgetheir own culture and meaning perspectives. After returning, they are able to assess their homeculture from an outside view. They have acquired new perspectives from which to judge theirprevious world views. In addition, these students are somewhat open to the anxiety essentialfor transformative learning. They have purposely placed themselves in a situation where theircultural norms and personal values will be challenged. One can assume that they are open totransformation.18Mezirow distinguishes four different levels of learning in transformation theory. Thefirst level, learning through established meaning schemes, consists of the expansion anddevelopment of existing meaning schemes which are taken for granted. In other words,learning can be easily accommodated by established and accepted meaning schemes. Thesecond level involves incorporating new meaning schemes which are in accordance withaccepted meaning perspectives. The third level is learning through the transformation ofmeaning schemes, through which a person begins to reflect on and challenge assumptions andexpectations previously taken for granted, but is not forced to alter meaning perspectives. Thefourth level of learning, considered the most significant level by Mezirow, is learning throughperspective transformation. At this level, a meaning perspective is distorted and a studentbecomes aware and must recreate this meaning perspective in order to reconcile new foundcontradictions (Mezirow, 1991).While these levels are useful in distinguishing the components of transformativelearning, Mezirow’s four levels of learning become problematic when applied to the actuallearning experiences of adults, as this is a hierarchical model which implies that unless astudent “achieves” perspective transformation, the learning experience does not seem valuable.This model becomes especially problematic when applied to the experiences of young adults,since many of their learning experiences are formative as opposed to transformative, whichmay not be indicated when these experiences are evaluated by a system which focuses only ontransformative learning. It is also extremely difficult to distinguish between meaning schemesand meaning perspectives.Mezirow quotes Paulo Freire (1970), who discusses the process through whichlearners, “achieve a deepening awareness of both the sociocultural reality which shapes theirlives and their capacity to transform that reality through action upon it,” (p. 136). A conditionfor achieving transformative learning is not only personal transformation but also becomingaware of one’s own capacity to transform the world.Transformative learning involves an enhanced level of awareness of the contextof one’s beliefs and feelings, a critique of their assumptions and particularly19premises, an assessment of alternative perspectives, a decision to negate an oldperspective in favor of a new one or to make a synthesis of old and new, anability to take action based upon the new perspective, and a desire to fit the newperspective into the broader context of one’s life. Perspective Transformationinvolves (a) an empowered sense of self, (b) more critical understanding of howone’s social relationships and culture have shaped one’s beliefs and feelings, and(c) more functional strategies and resources for taking action. Taking an actionis an integral dimension of transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991, p. 161).Another criterion for perspective transformation entails a questioning of one’s sense ofself. Because perspectives include personal ideologies and deeply held beliefs upon which webase our lives and actions, this challenge can be quite painful and threatening (Mezirow,1991). Although perspective transformation can result in profound changes of self, the powerof such an experience can also have negative effects if the learner is unable to come to aresolution, and can result in immobilization rather than action (Mezirow, 1991).Transformation theory states that uncritically assimilated meaning perspectivesfunction as perceptual and interpretive codes in the construal of meaning. Experiencereinforces personal meaning systems by extending expectations of the world. The process ofovercoming limited, distorted or selective modes of perception through reflection is central toadult development. Reflection involves validity testing. When an experience is incompatiblewith an existing meaning system, it is difficult to integrate that experience into the continuumof past experience, and there exists the possibility of it becoming distorted. Movementtowards a more inclusive, permeable, and integrated meaning perspective which is validatedthrough dialogue and discourse contributes to adult learning and development (Mezirow,1991, p. 4-7).Mezirow’s analysis of the process of transformation bears important resemblance toexperiential learning theory. According to Mezirow (1991), “Transformative learning islearning through action, and the beginning of the action learning process is deciding toappropriate a different meaning perspective” (p. 56). Similarly, reflection and dialogue areimportant elements of both theories. In both, learners can challenge distorted meaningperspectives through critical reflection. Significantly, the study by Conrad and Hedin (1982)20demonstrated that experiential education leads to development in all three areas specified byMezirow: epistemic, sociolinguistic, and psychological.In addition, both theories agree on the importance of discomfort or crisis in the learningprocess. In experiential, cross-cultural learning, as students attempt to survive in a newculture, they make mistakes through the application of old cultural habits to new culturalsituations. Through this process, students become aware of cultural influences which shapetheir own thought and behavior. Through culture shock, students realize that their old culturalframeworks are inapplicable. A student will remain in an uncomfortable and ambiguoussituation until a new framework can be devised (Sikkema & Niyekawa, 1987, p. 17-18).Gudykunst, Hammer, and Wiseman (1977) hypothesize that within this new culturalenvironment, students actually develop a third cultural perspective different from their homeand host cultures (cited in Pearson, 1981, p. 25). This is an intermediary point of view,similar to Kniep’s global perspective, and consists towards new ideas and experiences, the ability to empathizewith people from other cultures, accuracy in perceiving differences andsimilarities between the sojourner’s own culture and the host culture, being non-judgmental, being astute, noncritical observers in their own and other people’sbehavior, the ability to establish meaningful relationships with people in thehost culture, and being less ethnocentric. (p. 384)By placing students in a foreign environment in which they are ignorant of social,cultural, linguistic, and political meanings and values, experiential, cross-cultural learningcompels students to confront and critically reflect on their own cultural values and socialmeanings. This stressful process gives students new tools for learning and reflection, andplaces them in challenging learning environments in which they must solve problems in orderto survive. “The outcome for most people is a stretching of old capacities, a development ofnew skills, an increase in self-confidence, and an acceleration of the maturing process”(Hansel & Grove, 1984, p. 7). “Change in individuals occur in periods of discontinuity,displacement, and disjunction. New insights and revelations occur at points of disjunction, notin situations of equilibrium,” (Kauffman et al., 1992, p. 124).21A Review of Empirical StudiesSeveral quantitative studies were conducted throughout the 1970’s examining theeffects of study abroad for students. These studies have mixed fmdings. Few empiricallyverified significant attitude change in students, or found any relationship between personalchange and study abroad. However, program directors and participants continually attest tosignificant personal growth resulting from cross-cultural experience. In addition, studies usingquestionnaire and interview methods do find a strong coffelation between study abroad andpersonal growth (Sell, 1980; Kauffman et al., 1992). The inconclusiveness of this body ofresearch could result from problematic measurement instruments, from a lack of theoreticalbasis, or from inconsistency in the specification of program components under study. It seemsthat standardized instruments inadequately measure the kinds of change which result fromstudy abroad (Sell, 1980; Kauffman et al., 1992).It would appear that the intertwining of the academic and the personal hasremained hidden to researchers using standardized instruments, which goes farin explaining the discrepancy between the results of the standardized“objective” evaluation tools and self-report data. The standardized instrumentsare based on the conventional educational model (a model that assumes adualism between the cognitive and the affective realms) that might moreaccurately reflect traditional, campus-based educational results than those ofstudy abroad.. ..Students express frustration with the evaluation instrumentswhich fail to identify some of what they perceive to be the deeper and richeroutcomes of study abroad (Kauffman et aL, 1992, p. 143).There are a number of examples of standardized studies which have attempted tomeasure quantitatively the effects of study abroad. Kauffman et al. (1992) provides anextensive appendix outlining quantitative studies on study abroad. The following is anexample of the confusion resulting from these studies. Nash (1976), evaluated the effect of ayear of study abroad in France on the self-realization of undergraduate students. Hehypothesized that study abroad would increase students’ self-realization, which he defined as:(1) increased autonomy, (2) the expansion or differentiation of self, (3) increased tolerance andflexibility, (4) increased self-assurance and confidence, and (5) increased objectivity. Thestudy made before and after assessments of students in an experimental group and those in acontrol group. Students ifiled out several standardized questionnaires at a time. Data resulting22from the study confirmed the hypotheses concerning increased autonomy and expansion anddifferentiation of self. However, the hypotheses about increased tolerance and flexibility andincreased self-assurance and confidence were not confirmed. Data displayed grounds for acontrary hypothesis about self-confidence. Adequate data was not available for testing thehypothesis concerning increased objectivity because it was not possible to develop an adequatemeasuring technique. However, this construct might have proven to be problematic regardless.A more appropriate determinant of self-realization might have been increased awareness ofone’s own subjectivity.Hensley and Sell (1979) showed different results. They assessed the effects of a studyabroad program on the attitudes of students. The program studied was a semester program inGeneva for the study of international politics and organization. Researchers assessed theattitude change in regard to two internationalist attitudes: woridmindedness and support of theUnited Nations, and two psychological variables: self-esteem and the tolerance of ambiguity.A questionnaire was administered to both experimental and control groups. Data confirmedthe hypothesis that self-esteem of students substantially increased as a result of study abroad.However, the study did not determine significant attitude change concerningworidmindedness, support for the UN, or tolerance of ambiguity. While both Nash (1976) andHensley and Sell (1979) failed to discover increased tolerance as a result of study abroad, theyhad conflicting findings concerning self-confidence and self-esteem. While these twovariables are not exactly the same, they are similar enough to find this contradiction in resultsproblematic. A year later, Deborah Sell (1980) showed conflicting findings again. Shediscovered a significant increase in the tolerance of ambiguity resulting from study abroad, anda lack of significant change in self-esteem (Sell, 1980). These results are confusing andinconclusive.Hansel and Grove (1986) studied the effects of experiential, cross-cultural learningresulting from a homestay in a host culture. In their questionnaire, designed largely bystudents, experimental and control groups rated themselves with respect to 17 personal23characteristics, which had been identified by returnees, in both a pre-test and a post-test. Theresults of the study showed significant increases in all 17 characteristics for students whostudied abroad, and large gains in 10 of the 17 characteristics. These gains were much largerthan the gains by students who did not study abroad (Hansel & Grove, 1986). The 17 personalcharacteristics consisted of: adaptability, awareness and appreciation of home country andculture, awareness and appreciation of host country and culture, awareness of opportunities,critical thinking, foreign language appreciation and ability, independence and responsibility forself, international awareness, non-materialism, understanding of other cultures, appreciation ofown family, communication with others, exchange of ideas, high standards for personalrelationships, open-mindedness, personal growth and maturity, self-confidence. The first tencharacteristics in this list were found to have very significant gains resulting from studyabroad.Another extensive study confirmed these positive results. Kauffman et al. (1992)interviewed students from three institutions in an effort to collect case histories of studyabroad. Through these interviews and an extensive review of research in this field, theyidentified areas in which study abroad has considerable impact: intellectual development,expanded international perspectives, and personal development. In the area of intellectualdevelopment, growth occurred in foreign language learning, the expansion of learning in themajor, and the increased general knowledge the student gained. Intellectual growth alsoappeared to incorporate new approaches toward learning. In terms of the development of aninternational perspective, students showed changes in their perceptions of host and homecultures and in their global understanding. Changes in students’ attitudes towards their homeculture were apparently inversely related to the attitudes developed toward the host culture.Three dimensions of global understanding are identified: knowledge acquisition, affectivechange, and changes in behavior. Finally, the study identified four areas of potential impact inpersonal development: intrapersonal understanding, interpersonal understanding, values, andlife direction and goals. In terms of personal development, the study found that:24...students who can be described as less developmentally mature before theybegin their study abroad are more likely to experience a greater magnitude ofpersonal change than those who are more mature. Students who begin at ahigher level of maturity are more likely to reach a sophisticated level ofinternational understanding. Also, the less developmentally mature person whohas only superficial contact with the host culture exhibits little change in eitherpersonal development or international awareness. Difficulty in re-entry into thehome culture appears to be related to the magnitude of personal change and theattitudes of the sojourners and their families and friends. The greater thechange, the more likely it is that the re-entry will be difficult (Kauffman et al.,1992, p. 91-92).Kauffman et al. (1992) also place the findings of this study in a theoretical frameworkof transfonnation. Living abroad is viewed as a powerful environment for self-transformationbecause of the unfamiliar setting, and because it forces a change in the students’ network ofbelonging allowing students to reshape their self-images. A model of the transformationalprocess is described, in which six aspects of personality, woven together, form a descriptivemodel of the path to maturation: autonomy, belonging, values, cognition, vocation, and worldview (Kauffman et al., 1992, p. 127). Maturation in these six areas constitutes transformation.Most researchers tend to agree that some form of transformation takes place in studentsas a result of study abroad. However, the nature of this transformation has not been agreedupon. Quantitative research in this area is vague and inconclusive. In studies where studentsare directly consulted on their transformation, direct and informative answers arise. It isimportant that researchers continue to tap this source of information concerning this learningprocess. The diversity of types of study abroad makes some research fmdings of these studieson the general construct of “study abroad” confusing and ill-founded. This study specificallyinvestigates experiential, cross-cultural learning of U.S. students in the context of non-industrialized countries, and directly consults students in the study this learning process. Byexpressly focusing on the transformation process, this study clarifies the nature and elementsof perspective transformation.Chapter OutlinesThe remainder of this thesis is composed of seven chapters. Chapter Two is adiscussion of the methodology used for this study. In this chapter, I describe my research25design and discuss the methodological principles that inform this design. These principlesinclude theories of feminist research and experiential research methodologies. In addition, Ireflect on and discuss my own subjectivity in regard to this research study. As I am an alumnaof the program and experience under investigation, my perception of experiential, cross-cultural learning has direct bearing on this study.Chapter Three describes the history and background of the School for InternationalTraining’s College Semester Abroad program, the study abroad program used in this study as acontext through which to examine experiential, cross-cultural learning. I describe the historyof the CSA program and discuss the various components of the program model.Chapter Four consists of an introduction to the twelve participants in this study andtheir backgrounds. This and the following three chapters present narratives of studentexperience which are composed of excerpts from open-ended interviews with the participants,and excerpts from writing samples they provided. Chapter Five discusses importantrelationships of participants during their experiences abroad. These include relationships withhomestay families, cross-cultural relationships, relationships with Academic Directors, andrelationships with other SIT students. These relationships frame the students’ experiences.Chapter Six is a discussion of critical incidents and reflection experienced by the participantsduring cultural immersion and re-entry into the United States. Chapter Seven examines thetransformation that students experienced as a result of their experiences, both personally and interms of their academic and career interests.Chapter Eight confronts and discusses the initial research questions and drawsconclusions on the research presented in this thesis. I examine Mezirow’s (1991)transformation theory in terms of the phenomenon of experiential, cross-cultural learning todetermine if perspective transformation is a direct result, and whether Mezirow’s categories oflearning are applicable to all the student experiences. Finally, I draw conclusions based on theresearch findings, and determine the implications of this study for the field of experientialstudy abroad.26Chanter Two: MethodologyIntroductionThe kind of people we are is at the root of what, how and why we research. Webring our Self as a resource to our researching. (Kirby & McKenna, 1989, p.19)As I discussed earlier, this research project grew directly from my own experience as astudent in Zimbabwe. I have used my own experiential knowledge to inform this study. Inaddition to bringing my self as a resource to my researching, it might also be accurate to saythat this research functioned as a resource in my own personal growth. It helped me to reflecton and understand my own experiences. Through the study of experiential, cross-culturallearning, I have been able to build on my experiences abroad and integrate them further intomy understanding of the world.Description of StudyPurposeThe purpose of this project was to study the consequences and changes which U.S.,undergraduate students experience as a result of an experiential, cross-cultural, immersionexperience in a non-industrialized country. My own experience illustrates that atransformative effect can result from such an experience. The initial purpose of this study wasto determine if transformation occurs, and to examine the nature of the outcomes ofexperiential, cross-cultural learning. This project investigated the elements of a transformativelearning experience which are crucial to a student’s change process, while encouragingstudents to reflect on the ways in which their personal backgrounds, knowledge, and valueshave affected their experiences abroad, as well as the process of change. Through theinvestigation of the progression and composition of transformative experiential learning, thisstudy has endeavored to explore ways in which this type of learning can be used to leadstudents towards critical reflection and action as members of the global community.In addition, this study aims to fill a gap in the literature on experiential education. Ihave not encountered any narratives of experiential learning as told from the student27perspective. Many narratives study life history and learning, but none explore stories ofstructured experiential education. They are noticeably absent in this field in particular, as wecan only benefit from hearing the voices of students describe their processes of learningthrough action and reflection in order to improve on educational methods and techniques.Through this study, I have attempted to shed light on the use of narrative as a method toresearch experiential learning.Site SelectionI chose to interview participants of the School for International Training’s CollegeSemester Abroad (CSA) program. Not only do I, as a researcher, have firsthand experiencewith this program, but it remains one of the few programs that provides post-secondarystudents with experiential cultural immersion experience in non-industrialized countries. Inaddition, the School for International Training (SiT) is part of a larger organization, WorldLearning (formerly the Experiment in International Living) which has offered study abroadprograms for students since 1932. Thus, this is an established organization adept inconducting cultural immersion programs.When I first proposed this research, I planned to accompany a group of students toZimbabwe in order to study the process of learning as students experienced it. However,because of a lack of funding, potential logistical problems, and the possibility of disturbing thelearning process, this was not an option. As an alternative, I opted to conduct a year-afterstudy of program participants in order to study the long term effects of this program. I did notchoose to study a Canadian study abroad organization because I wanted to triangulate myresearch with my own experience, which was with the SIT CSA program. Also, I was wellaquainted with this organization, and I felt my familiarity with it would benefit my research.In spite of the fact that the home base of this organization is located in the United States, I feelthat this study has many implications for Canadian study abroad programs that use this form ofeducation, and many conclusions can be drawn from this study for any program of this sort.28Judging from my own experience, the intensity of cross-cultural experience in thesetting of a developing country renders many possibilities for powerful, personaltransformation for North American students. Students from western backgrounds are morechallenged by life in non-industrialized countries, where they generally have to make moredrastic adjustments in their way of life than they would in an industrialized host country.Therefore, I have chosen to interview students who participated in SIT programs in non-industrialized nations.Selection of ParticipantsSIT provided me with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all CSA studentsfrom the spring and fall programs of 1992 within non-industrialized countries around theworld. I purposefully chose to interview students approximately one year after their studyabroad experience in order to study the somewhat long term effects of this program on theirlives. From this list, I selected 315 students, two thirds female and one third male. Thisgender balance was based on the gender ratio of SIT students overall. I sent a letter to theselected people introducing my study, a questionnaire, and an outline of the requirements forparticipation in the study. I sent questionnaires to students in two general areas of the UnitedStates in order to limit my own travel requirements for interviewing: California and NewEngland. These are the two areas where SIT students were most concentrated, and they wereconvenient to me as a researcher. The questionnaire sought to acquire general informationabout the respondents and their experiences, to obtain updated information of addresses andphone numbers for SIT, and to inquire about the respondents’ availability and desire toparticipate in the study.Of the 315 questionnaires and letters distributed, 41 questionnaires were returned. Thisreturn rate can be explained by a number of factors of self-selection. Because thequestionnaire functioned only as an introductory transaction and not as a source of datacollection, I did not deem it necessary to send out reminder cards or to go to any measures toensure a high return rate. Budget restrictions forced me to require respondents to provide their29own return postage. In addition, the addresses with which SIT supplied me were more than ayear old. Some of these addresses were old college addresses of students, some were theirparents’ addresses, some people had moved, and still others did not get their mail forwarded tothem from their parents’ addresses to their school addresses. Some people were just finishingup school, and were facing final papers and exams, and others may have been engaging inadditional travel or international work. In short, I was dealing with a transitory population.I requested that people return the questionnaire to me within three weeks regardless oftheir decision to participate in the study. Of the 41 questionnaires returned, 31 agreed toparticipate in the study. From these 31 respondents, I chose 12 people to interview based ontheir availability and location. This number was chosen because it seemed manageable for theproposed research. The gender ratio of the chosen participants was similar to the gender ratioof students in this program. I was unable to choose participants on the basis of ethnicbackground in order to interview a diversity of students because the respondents were self-selected and I was restricted by the availability and location of the respondents. Of the 12participants in the study, 11 were European-American and one was Chinese-American. I didnot question participants about their socio-economic backgrounds because this informationwas beyond the scope of this study.Data CollectionBefore I began to conduct my research, I carried out an informal pilot study in order topractice my interview techniques, test the relevance of the interview questions, and bring tolight relevant issues that I may have overlooked in the construction of the interview format.The pilot interview helped me to refme my interviewing style, and the intervieweecollaborated with me on the interview structure and questions.I conducted one, in-depth interview with each participant ranging from two to fourhours in length. I also collected program assignments and journal entries written during thestudy abroad programs from students. Approximately half the respondents lived in NewEngland, and half in California, so I set up two sets of interviews accordingly. When I initially30contacted respondents, I asked them to make photocopies of their program assignments andjournal entries that they felt comfortable showing me, and I promised to reimburse them forthe photocopy fees.I also asked participants to write a description of their experience in the SIT program.If they were unable to do so, I asked them to provide an oral account of their experience duringthe interview. In the end, the oral format was more successful than the written descriptionformat, so I used this in all cases. Although I did not send participants a list of interviewquestions ahead of time, I did tell them the general nature of the questions so they could reflecton their answers before the interviews.By a stroke of bad luck and some aging equipment, I lost the first two interviewsbecause of a broken microphone. These were fascinating, so it was devastating to lose them.Because of their length and complexity, I was unable to reconstruct the content throughmemory. Therefore, I was left with the written work of these two participants, which has beenused to inform the analysis. After I completed the interviews in Massachusetts, New York andConnecticut, I returned to California where I conducted another five interviews. I conductedthe last interview in Seattle.I spent the next two months transcribing 2590-minute interview tapes. Fmm thetranscripts, I constructed narratives of each participant’s experience of cultural immersion.Each participant was assigned a pseudonym. I then sent them copies of their own narrativesfor approval. I asked them to check for accuracy and to comment on the way in which theywere portrayed. Seven of the participants replied, and each updated and corrected mistakes intheir narratives. None of the respondents expressed any major dissatisfaction with theirnarratives. Participants will receive a final copy of the thesis when it is completed. Byobtaining this input from the participants of this study, I have attempted to create anatmosphere of participant inclusion in the research process. In addition to cooperating with myresearch, these students had an opportunity to explore and reflect on their own experiences,which may have been beneficial to their personal development.31Researcher RoleThis study grew out of my own experience as a CSA student in Zimbabwe. Not onlydid I have an extremely positive experience in this program, but I attribute a large part of mycareer direction and personal growth to my experiences in Zimbabwe and my travelexperiences after the program. The CSA Zimbabwe program can therefore be seen as a criticalexperience in my life. Through this research, I have attempted to conduct a theoreticalexamination of my own and others’ experiences. Some schools of feminist methodology holdthat theoretical examination should be rooted in the experience it endeavors to explain (Kirbyand McKenna, 1989; Reinharz, 1983; Mies, 1983). Because of the personal nature ofexperiential learning, I believe that experiential education can greatly benefit from theperspective of a researcher with a intimate understanding of the process being explored. As aprevious participant in the SIT College Semester Abroad program, I have a directunderstanding of the process of reflection and the construction of meaning resulting fromcross-cultural experience. In the interviews, I encouraged participants to reflect on theirexperiences and the social context in which they occurred, while at the same time recording anarrative of the recollection of cross-cultural experience. I used the insight of my ownexperience to understand this process further. Indeed, listening to the reflections of otherstudents helped me to further my own reflection. In this study, I played the role of researcheras well as the role of a participant in this program and a peer to the participants in this study.While some may argue that my insight into the program gives added dimension to mystudy, others may distrust my researcher bias. I believe that my experience as a SIT alumnagrounds me in the social context of the study. While I have strong emotions associated withthis program, my experiential insight into the program gives me an added advantage. I haveused disciplined subjectivity and analysis of my own values, ideology, and experiences in anattempt to control any distorting bias my experience might create (Kirby and McKenna, 1989,p. 32). I see this as preferable to avoidance of my subjectivity in an attempt to appear unbiasedin the collection and analysis of my data.32It should be noted that this study is not an evaluation of the SIT College SemesterAbroad program. It is a study of the experiences and reflections of the program participants.While this involves some investigation into the program, it is not the main focus of this study.Aside from permission to conduct this study, my own connection with SIT is similar to that ofthe participants. I believe this equal footing encouraged an open and honest dialogue betweenthe participants and myself.Discussion of Methodological PrinciplesFeminist methodology and experiential methodology comprise the methodologicalprinciples which govern this study (Reinharz, 1979 & 1983). These two research models areanalogous in many ways. For example, both models reject the positivist goal of objectivityand value neutrality in research, and the structural separation of theory and practice. Theseresearch models also critique hierarchical power relationships between the research subject andthe research object (Kemmis, 1985; McCutcheon, 1990; Mies, 1983; Reinharz, 1979 & 1983;Tripp, 1990). They argue that these aspects of the positivist research tradition have been usedas tools of repression against women and minorities. In order to give power to oppressedindividuals and communities, these new research paradigms seek to explore and document theexperiences of oppressed groups and groups who subsist on the margins of society (Kirby andMcKenna, 1989, p. 17). Feminist researchers have proposed to replace the value-free,“unbiased” positivist paradigm with “conscious partiality” or “disciplined subjectivity”, inwhich researchers consciously explore and acknowledge their subjectivity and scrutinize thesocial context of their research. These researchers attempt to create relationships of trustbetween research participants and themselves.Feminist methodology criticizes hierarchical research relationships and encouragesresearch in collaboration with the people in the community under investigation. This functionsto give people who were previously objects of research power over research tools and results.Feminist methodology expands the conscientization process (Freire, 1970) by emphasizing theexploration of personal and social history by individuals and groups of women. This enables33women to create their own history from their real experiences, which can then be collectivizedfor the creation of a diversified history based on the reality of its subjects (Mies, 1989, P. 128).Ideas, meanings and understandings are conceived of as socially and historicallyconstructed, and should be critically reflected upon in the analysis of experience (Kemmis,1985). Critical reflexivity requires a dialectical process among, “a) the researcher’s constructs,b) the informants’ commonsense constructs, c) the research data, d) the researcher’s ideologicalbiases, and e) the structural and historical forces that informed the social construction understudy,” (Anderson, 1989, p. 254-255). I have attempted to create this process in my studythrough detailed discussion of researcher and informant constructs, the research data, andreflections on researcher subjectivity.Theoretical examination must strongly root itself in the experience it claims to explain(Kirby & McKenna, 1989, p. 20). Only through the analysis of social context can society betransformed (Anderson, 1989; Dudley, 1992; Kirby & McKenna, 1989). The collection andanalysis of oral narrative of experience becomes a window on a broader social context(Cruikshank, 1990, p. 14). Through experiential learning, students develop theories based ontheir everyday action. In this study, participants were able to reflect on, theorize, and analyzetheir own experiences. In addition, analysis of these experiences led to critical reflection onthe social context of experiential, cross-cultural learning.Experiential research methodology parallels many aspects of feminist methodology.This methodology is based on the experiences of the researchers as well as the researchparticipants. It attempts to close the gap between the experience of the world and the theorythat explains it (Smith, 1974, p. 7, as cited in Reinharz, 1983, p. 166). Interviews andnarrative used in conjunction with the ideology of experiential methodology allow participantsthe opportunity to tell their own stories on their own terms (Anderson, 1991, p. 11). In somecases, such as described by Heron (1981), experiential methodology requires a completepartnership in research development between the researcher and co-researchers. However, inthis study I use the definition of Reinharz (1983), who describes a collaborator role for project34participants, in which they contribute significantly to the development of the research, but notto the point of partnership. In the case of my research, partnership would have required toomuch of a commitment from the participants. Therefore, I used a design in which participantsvoiced their opinions about the presentation of the research, without the requirement of thework or commitment involved for a research team. They discussed, reflected on, and analyzedtheir experiences in the interviews, and had the opportunity to voice their opinions on thepresentation of the data in the thesis.The effort to empower respondents and the study of their responses asnarratives are closely linked. They are connected through the assumption...thatone of the significant ways through which individuals make sense of and givemeaning to their experiences is to organize them in a narrative form. As weshall see, various attempts to restructure the interviewee-interviewerrelationship so as to empower respondents are designed to encourage them tofind and speak in their own ‘voices’ (Mischler, 1986, p. 118, as cited inAnderson, 1989, p. 260).This study utilizes a case study approach in the inquiry of cross-cultural, experientialeducation. A number of inherent features of experiential learning accommodate the case studyapproach. These features include: the uniqueness of each individual’s experiences, highlyinteractive social settings and complex multiple realities that constitute student experiences,and the multidimensional objectives and goals of experiential learning programs and theirstudents (Stevenson, 1985, p. 43). In this study, then, the phenomenon under investigationparallels the method of investigation.Once the U.S. students arrive in a non-industrialized society, they are economicallyprivileged, regardless of their position at home. These students are not marginal in the senseof suffering exploitation. The opportunity to study abroad is a privilege accorded to very fewpeople in the world. However, they do experience cultural marginality in the way that manyqualitative researchers experience marginality as foreigners. Indeed, they find themselves in aposition similar to that of a privileged researcher working on the margins of society. Studentsmust acquire cultural and communication skills, and conduct research in their own area ofinterest, all the while relying on the people of the country to enlighten them in their research.Students process and reflect on their new found skills, experiences, and information, often35through the use of journals. They develop meaningful relationships with the people of theirnew communities, and friendship creates a sense of reciprocity in the research relationship.Not only can these students better understand abstract concepts such as culture and social classthrough cross-cultural experience, they develop their own theory from experience in order tomake sense of their observations and experiences. As students move from marginality toengagement, ideally they lose their ethnocentricity and develop a new perspective of their ownsociety and self.Researchers engaged in an experiential methodology undergo similar changes as aresult of the research experience.[Ejxperiential study depends on the change or trauma occurring within the researcher.Such change is the penetration of the researcher by social reality. The explication ofthat penetration is experiential analysis. (Reinharz, 1979, p. 367)It is evident from this comparison that the phenomenon and research methodology bear a greatdeal of resemblance to one another. I propose that this symmetry of the research question, themethodology, and the theoretical basis makes the methodology all the more appropriate forthis study (Dudley, 1992, p. 327). “Methodology, theory, and ideology are intertwined. Howyou go about doing research is inextricably linked with how you see the world,” (Kirby andMcKenna, 1989, p. 63). In fact, each of the participants in the study is a participant observer,and their observations constitute a kind of experiential research, not only on their host culturebut on the phenomenon under study as well. As stated in the previous chapter, part ofexperiential learning is learning from the actual process of learning itself (Joplin, 1981; Kolb,1984; Proudman, 1992).It is important that the process of investigating the world not remain a specializedactivity. Our everyday lives teach us skills which we use to observe and reflect on ourexperience. We focus on problems, ask questions, collect information, and analyze andinterpret ‘data’. We already ‘do research’ as we interact with the everyday world. Inresearching from the margins we are concerned with how research skills can enablepeople to create knowledge that will describe, explain, and help change the world inwhich they live. (Kirby & McKenna, 1989, p. 17)Some of the elements of feminist research methodology have been excluded from thisstudy. Feminist methodology usually focuses on the experiences of women, while this study36examines the experiences of both women and men. Further, feminist research methodologyemphasizes research for social change, and social change as a result of this study is minimal.However, my own personal values emphasize community development and social change, andthis study examines whether or not cross-cultural experiential learning catalyzes studentparticipation in work towards community service and development. In addition, byencouraging critical reflection in the interview process, this study itself may have empoweredstudents to consider their own roles in social change.Methodological Validity and ReliabilityIn order to establish the credibility of the research design, it is critical to address themethodological considerations of reliability and validity. The first consideration is thereliability of the study, which refers to the factual accuracy of the data collection, as well as theconsistency of the interpretation of the material. Interobserver reliability refers to theagreement between observers or researchers concerning the factual correctness of the data andinterpretation. External reliability indicates the extent to which independent researchers coulddiscover the same phenomena in the same or similar situation (McMillan & Schumacher,1989, p. 188-189). The research design described in this study ensures reliability in a numberof ways. Internal reliability is ensured by a committee’s review of this thesis research.The participants’ review of the narratives and analysis helps to ensure factualdescription in the study. By asking students to show me their journal entries from abroad, Iwas able to determine the accuracy of their memory of events, and also understand theirfeelings at the time of experience. These journal entries often verified what each person wasactually thinking at the time of their experiences in the host country. Other techniques used toenhance external reliability are critical reflection on the social context and researcher role, andspecific descriptions of participant selection, data collection and analysis strategies, andanalytical constructs and premises.In qualitative research which explores the experiences of others, it is difficult to statethe extent to which such studies can be replicated by other independent researchers.37Experience is as diverse as human beings. To generalize about experience is to dispute thevariety of human life, for what is meaningful for one person can be senseless for another.Thus there exists an essential human conflict between acknowledging the diversity ofexperience and the tendency to generalize and compartmentalize experience and its manymeanings. Data collected in this study is therefore limited in its application to other contextsof cross-cultural, experiential learning, and to the experiences and reflections of other studentsas well. However, there appear to be some experiential learning situations which are powerfulfor a majority of students. In addition, many students seem to have somewhat similarreactions to the program experience. Experiential learning and reflection are subjectiveprocesses. However, reflection is not merely a private act. It emerges from a cultural,political, and social context. This study endeavors to generate insights, seek understanding,and explain the phenomenon of experiential cross-cultural learning (Anderson, 1989, p. 253).Therefore, this study offers researchers insight into the reflection process of students in theexperiential, cross-cultural context, as well as critical elements of structured, cross-culturalexperience. It also increases the understanding of the diversity of experience that exists in thefield.The second major consideration of methodological credibility is the validity of thestudy. Internal validity of the research design, which resembles internal reliability, refers tothe degree to which explanations of phenomena match the realities of the world. In otherwords, do researchers actually observe what they think they observe (McMillan &Schumacher, 1989, p. 191)?There are a few limitations to this study in terms of internal validity. The studyattempts to measure transformation in students over time. However, in the design of this studyeach participant is interviewed only once, and it relies on the self-reporting of each participantto determine whether or not change has occurred. This can result in weak evidence of thechange process. In addition, at the time of the interview, approximately one year had passedsince each participant had participated in the study abroad program. While this allowed38students to go through and reflect on the re-entry process, their memories may have beenskewed to a certain extent regarding actual events. However, the scope of this study as well aslogistical difficulties prevented me from triangulating this study with other ethnographicresearch techniques that might have increased its internal validity.Another important consideration for the validity of this study is my own researcherbias. “One’s subjectivity is like a garment that cannot be removed” (Peshkin, 1988, P. 17).While I maintain that the understanding of experience is essential and irreplaceable to thestudy of experiential education, my enthusiasm towards the CSA program and my ownexperience may lead me to unconsciously disregard subjects’ experiences and interpretationswhich contradict my own. In order to guard against any problematic subjectivity, I havereflected on my own experience as a CSA student in Zimbabwe and my own subjectivity in asection of this chapter. In this way, I have attempted to confront my partiality, and refrainfrom placing my own expectations and judgments on the experiences of others. I have beencommitted throughout the course of this research to present the experiences of the participantswith as little bias as possible on my part. In addition to my own reflection, I made an effort toencourage participants to openly and honestly express their own thoughts and interpretationsconcerning their experiences.Because of my experiential insight, I had the ability to relate with students in thelanguage of experience, so to speak. I was able to understand certain emotions and situationsto which a researcher without cross-cultural experience would be less likely to relate. Thesemutual meanings enhanced the clarity and candor of communication. I tried to facilitate anegalitarian relationship with the participants, and I believe our mutuality of experiencecontributed to this. I made an effort to create a dialogue between participants and myself, andshared some of my own experiences with them when it seemed appropriate. This study wasnot intended to evaluate the students or the CSA program. However, there was the danger ofparticipants misinterpreting my intentions, thinking that I planned to assess their culturalsensitivity. To avoid this threat to internal validity, I told participants that I was interested in39all reflections on experience, negative as well as positive. This precaution hopefully reducedmisunderstandings of my intentions and goals. In spite of this, it was impossible for me tofeign objectivity, especially since I elicited certain responses from participants based solely onthe structure of the interviews.What the researcher is allowed to see and whom the researcher is allowed tomeet depends on who the researcher is perceived to be....Because of theresearcher’s priorities and unavoidable omissions, these decisions result in datastamped with the researcher’s imprint. (Peshkin, 1982, p. 52)I also tried to maintain disciplined subjectivity throughout the writing of the narratives.Although I would have liked to include all of the approximately 1000 pages of data, it wasonly possible to include the parts that were relevant to this particular study.The last issue of validity to consider in the research design is external validity.External validity indicates the extent to which the generalizations and constructs areapplicable across groups. Will the findings of this study enable others to understand similarsituations, and can the understandings generated by this study be extended to subsequentresearch? Also, are the theoretical constructs, such as transformative and cross-culturallearning theories, applied appropriately to the narratives of experience? Three issues are vitalto the examination of external reliability: comparability, translatability, and construct validity(McMillan & Schumacher, 1989, p. 194).Comparability is the degree to which the research components are accurately describedand defined so as to extend the findings to other studies. One thing that should be noted in thisparticular study is the selection process. Students were self-selected on a voluntary basis toparticipate in this study. It is unlikely that non-reflective students or students who hadnegative experiences volunteered for the study. While some of these students might havewished to explore the reasons for the negativity of their experiences, I assume that most ofthem did not care to dwell on the bad memories. Therefore, students who volunteered for thestudy most likely included only those most reflective students with positive experiences, whichare not completely representative of all of CSA students. As a result, the typicality of the40experiences described, and therefore the phenomenon under investigation, is difficult todetermine.Translatability is defmed as the degree to which the theoretical frameworks andresearch strategies are understood by other researchers in the same and related disciplines.Construct validity refers to the extent that the study represents the underlying construct, andthe clear definition of constructs. Translatability and construct validity are especially difficultto achieve in this study because of the ambiguous defmition of experiential education thatexists within the field. Cross-cultural experiential education is slightly more specific andeasier to pin down. However, this construct can occur at varying degrees, causing possibleconfusion. For example, can a two week wildlife safari be compared with a six weekhomestay, or a two year volunteer program in a rural area of a non-industrialized nation?Through explicitly defining the underlying constructs of my study, I have attempted toincrease the translatability and construct validity of my study.Reflections on Researcher SubjectivityWriting about my own experience abroad has caused me to empathize with theparticipants in this study. It can be discouraging to see meaningful experiencescompartmentalized in sections and analyzed in terms of the learning they represent. This isindeed a danger of research on experiential education. Students are placed in situations andexperiences where they are challenged, often by crisis or critical incidents. These experiencesalmost inevitably have a deep effect, and such an impact is very difficult to articulateadequately.Nearly four years after my experiences in Zimbabwe, I am still in the process ofreflection. This thesis has helped me to continue the learning process begun with my studyabroad in Zimbabwe. I have learned a great deal about my own experience, as well as aboutexperiential, cross-cultural learning, through this research study. I saw many of my owncharacteristics and experiences in the participants I interviewed. Seeing myself in others andhearing new perspectives and reflections on experiences similar to my own shed light on my41own perspective of my experience. This proved to be a very positive researcher-informant,and in fact student to student, exchange of ideas.It is important to emphasize that six months have passed since these interviews tookplace, and the participants understandings of their experience may have changed as well.These stories and reflections are not written in stone, although they have been captured in text.I know from my own experience that I gain new insights on my experiences in Zimbabwefrequently, and my perceptions have changed over time.A written document appears to stand still; the narrative appears fmished. It hasbeen written, character’s lives constructed, social histories recorded, meaningexpressed for all to see. Yet, anyone who has written a narrative knows that it,like life, is a continual unfolding where the narrative insights of today are thechronological events of tomorrow. Such writers know in advance that the taskof conveying a sense that the narrative is unfinished and that stories will beretold and lives relived in new ways is likely to be completed in less thansatisfactory ways. Furthermore, even when the writer is personally satisfiedwith the result he or she needs always to remember that readers may freeze thenarrative with the result that the restorying life quality intended by the writermay become fixed as a print portrait by the reader. (Connelly and Clandinin,1990, p. 9)I have had a deep emotional and personal investment in this study and have tried to beaware of it throughout the data collection and writing of this thesis. This emotional investmentproved in many ways to be a positive asset to the research, because it afforded me a sensitivitytowards the participants that other researchers might not have had. Connelly and Clandinin(1990) describe perceptively the way that this research has been a form of transformativelearning for me:As we engage in a reflective research process, our stories are often restoried andchanged as we, as teachers and/or researchers, ‘give back’ to each other ways ofseeing our stories. I tell you a researcher’s story. You tell me what you heardand what it meant to you. I hadn’t thought of it this way, am transformed insome important way, and tell the story differently the next time I encounter aninterested listener or talk again with my participant. (p. 9)Reflections on NarrativeA number of my personal values are evident in this thesis. These include anenthusiasm for the subject under study, and commitments to experiential education,community involvement, and social change. These commitments are clearly visible in my42analysis of the data. In addition to these values, my conception of narrative has significantlyinfluenced my presentation of the data and analysis. Initially I set out to create a collection ofstories of experience and reflection in cultural immersion. From the beginning of the study, Ihave been uncomfortable with the idea of an analysis of these stories. Granted, my biasalready shapes the narratives because I have shaped the interview questions to which theparticipants responded, and I have chosen excerpts from the interview transcripts to include inthe narratives. However, I felt very uncomfortable analyzing the experiences described by theparticipants in this study, and I felt strongly about letting the words of the participants speakfor themselves. I endeavored to create these narratives holistically, in the form of a story, eachparticipant’s story told from beginning to end with as many of their words and as few of mineas possible. At the end of these narratives I wrote a cross-case analysis of these experiencesseparate from the narratives in order to create insight on the phenomenon under study.However, this attempt at separation of the data and analysis created a dilemma betweenmaintaining the stories told by participants and answering the research questions in a conciseand analytical manner. My initial attempt at writing narrative can be described as an inductivemode of narrative, and the present format is characteristic of a demonstrative mode.In the demonstrative mode, data tend not to speak for themselves but instead areused in exemplary ways to ifiustrate the thoughts of the narrative writer. In aninductive mode, data more clearly tell their own story. (Connelly andClandinin, 1990, p. 11)Thus, I faced a dilemma between letting the participants’ stories and reflections be the heart ofthis research, and articulating my own thoughts and analysis on the data, which helped toclarify the research for the reader. The literature review, research question, and theoreticalframework set up a goal that demanded a certain structure of narrative. In spite of mycommitment to participant stories, I wrote the thesis in a demonstrative form of narrative forthe sake of the coherence of the document. This was a dilemma 1 struggled with throughoutthe writing of the thesis.These two forms of narrative are illustrated in two research studies done by Cruikshank(1990) and Haig-Brown (1991). Cruikshank writes in the inductive mode of narrative, while43Haig-Brown writes in a demonstrative mode. Personally , I am more drawn to Cruikshank’snarrative portrayal of her participants’ stories, where the researcher’s analysis is separate fromthe participants’ stories. Haig-Brown uses a methodology of storyteffing. However, in thedemonstrative mode of narrative that she uses, the words of the respondents are minimal, andthe excerpts are disjointed and full of omissions. As a reader and a researcher, I found thisfrustrating. When I think of narrative, I expect to read the words and hear the voice of thesubject of the narrative. “Demonstrative” narrative does not resemble my conception ofnarrative. However, I realize that this is a personal preference and not necessarily the mostcomprehensible in terms of the goals of educational research. While my goal may have beento present the stories of students’ experiences and reflections, the research goal was toinvestigate an overall phenomenon. My focus was initially the individual stories, not thecentral analysis.One example of a dilemma I had in the analysis and presentation of narrative arose inthe writing of this thesis. As I explained earlier in this chapter, I sent participants copies oftheir narratives to check for accuracy and approval. In one participant’s narrative, that of“Chris”, my researcher bias was evident when I discussed his reflections on Nepalese genderrelations. He made a number of statements regarding his attraction to Asian women, which Ianalyzed as cultural baggage typical of U.S. attitudes towards women of color. However, Ihad been tempted to let Chris’s words stand on their own without analysis from me, and let thereaders draw their own conclusions. When I received Chris’s response in the mail, I wasworried about his response to my portrayal of his experience. He was certainly kind andaccepting of the narrative and did not mention my analysis, but I couldn’t help but feel that ourrelationship had been damaged. During the interview, he had been very friendly, generous,and outgoing. I wondered if I had hurt our rapport by my comments. I questioned myself:“Was it really my place to determine and examine Chris’s cultural baggage when he did not44have the same opportunity to challenge mine? Had he felt empowered enough in the researchprocess to disagree if he felt this was an unfair analysis, and was this fair play on my part?”Something about this experience left me feeling very uncomfortable and discouraged with theresearch process. This was a recurring dilemma throughout the thesis in terms of myrepresentation of the stories of other participants as well. Although I am still working throughthese methodological dilemmas, I have attempted to portray this research in a format that I feelcomfortable with and which is representative of both individual and collective participantexperience.My Experience as an SIT Student in ZimbabweBackgroundAnother important aspect of my subjectivity is my own experience as a CSA student inZimbabwe. I will attempt to describe some of my experiences through the lens of the centralthemes in this thesis. It is difficult to recall my exact reasons for wanting to study abroad inZimbabwe. My parents had always placed an emphasis on open-mindedness and interest inother cultures and lifestyles. As a family we often took excursions to explore new places. Myfamily, consisting of my parents, my older sister, younger brother, and myself first traveledabroad in the summer of 1985, when we went to Europe for three weeks. I was fifteen at thetime. During this trip we toured England, France, and Italy. This was my first real exposure todifferent cultures and lifestyles. Although this cross-cultural experience occurred in FirstWorld settings, and I interacted with cultures and people strictly as a tourist, I was thrilled todiscover new places, people, and cultures. This trip resulted in significantly opening my mindtop of the world different from my own.I grew up in a very homogeneous community of Caucasian, upper middle class people.I rebelled against this homogeneity by attending the University of California at Berkeley,which was known for its diversity of culture, people, and opinions. This was an extremely richenvironment, one that functioned to further broaden my world view and awareness of variouscultural perspectives.45In 1988, my older sister Iraveled to Spain for a year-long study abroad program. Thisprogram, through the University of California system, enabled students to take classes for twosemesters at a university in Barcelona. During winter vacation of that year, my family went toSpain to visit her, and we spent a month traveling around the country. This was my secondmajor international experience, and my enthusiasm for learning about new cultures grew.After our visit with my sister, I felt some parental encouragement to study abroad. It seemedlike a way to expand my college education. However, my sister had taken Spanish all throughhigh school and college. She had advanced language skills. I had taken some French in highschool, but I retained little and took no language courses in college. My options for studyingabroad seemed limited by this. I was not particularly interested in studying in Europe, themost common site of study abroad programs. However, I had always been interested in Africaas a child, and used to romanticized going there as a Peace Corps volunteer.When I returned from Spain I went to the study abroad office on campus. TheUniversity of California study abroad program had only a few programs in Africa, none ofwhich appealed to me. Their programs were two semesters long and consisted of study at auniversity in a foreign country. I was hesitant to commit to a nine month study abroadprogram, especially in Africa which seemed so completely different from what I knew. It alsoseemed silly to go all the way to Africa just to study at a university in a city, without getting toknow the people of a country, in addition to students and academics. Fortunately, I stumbledupon a brochure for SITs College Semester Abroad program. SIT offered a number ofprograms in Africa consisting of cultural immersion, not just academic, university study. hiaddition, their programs were 15 weeks, or one semester long, an easier commitment than twosemesters. I chose to apply for the Zimbabwe program almost completely based on myintuition. It just seemed like a “cool” place to go, and I knew very little about the country. Myparents hesitated when I first told them about the program, but they agreed to let me apply. Bythe time I was accepted I was very enthusiastic about the program. Once my parents saw how46eager I was to participate in the program, they agreed to let me go and to help me with thetuition. Ultimately, my family was very supportive.Important RelationshipsAn important relationship for me during my stay in Zimbabwe was with Neil, anotherSIT student with whom I became involved about one month into the program. In fact, therelationship and experience are intertwined in my mind and they are difficult to separate.Neil’s openness to culture, experience, and people made a deep impression on me, and thosewere characteristics I endeavored to develop in myself. He was very charming, and peopleseemed drawn to him when they met him. The first night we arrived in Zimbabwe, a group ofus decided to investigate the local beer garden and live music spot around the corner fromwhere we were staying. I hadn’t noticed Neil much beforehand, but on the walk over, we cameacross a man selling roasted caterpillars on the sidewalk. He asked us if we would like to buysome. Most of us hesitated, but Neil immediately stepped up and bought some. After hepopped one in his mouth, he sat there with a look a disgust on his face, with saliva andcaterpillar guts running down his face, and I was in complete awe. I had never seen someoneso open and brave and ready to try new things.In spite of my admiration, the relationship had its downside as well. Neil wasemotionally abusive, which resulted in a severe loss of self-esteem for me, in spite of the factthat my self-confidence theoretically should have evolved as a result of the experience. Inmany ways my confidence did grow, but the relationship caused me to feel more and moreinadequate as time went on, and this proved to be a negative force in my experience. It wasconfusing to be torn between these two forces of positive and negative reinforcement.Another important relationship for me was my friendship with “Jenny”, another studenton the program. There were many qualities about Jenny that I admired. She once told me that,“Humility was not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” This seemed to becharacteristic of Jenny. She seemed at peace with herself, and therefore was able to give agreat deal of herself to other people. She was very giving, warm, and wise. Her friendship47and support was meaningful to me during my time in Zimbabwe and also after I returned toCalifornia.Many Zimbabwean people made deep impressions on me as human beings andmembers of Shona culture. During the workcarnp part of the program, I lived at a women’sagricultural cooperative for a week and worked as a tutor and teacher at a local elementaryschool. I was moved by the strength, determination, and grace with which the women at thecooperative lived their lives, as well as that of Mrs. Zakeo, the teacher I worked with inChikwaka. My host mother in my homestay family also impressed me in this way, as well asmany other women I encountered in Zimbabwe. These women seemed to have a great deal ofvitality, spirit, and determination. Other women students on the SIT program impressed mewith their strength as women and feminists. These encounters eventually led me to adedication to feminism.During my ISP, I worked with a group of artists and art students. These peopleinfluenced me with their passion and reflectivity on their culture and artwork. Many people Icame into contact with had a considerable impact on me. I was at an open and receptive pointin my life, and this resulted not only in my impressionability but also in drastic change formyself.Critical IncidentAbout one month into the program, we took a four day trip to a number of placesaround Zimbabwe. This was a trip of extremes and contradictions. Within a short time wewere exposed to a multitude of aspects of Zimbabwean life. First, we went to Lake Kyle, apopular National Wildlife Park, where we went on our first few game drives. This was a thrill,and we all took snapshots like crazy. It seemed surreal to be driving down the road andsuddenly come across a random zebra or giraffe running along side our bus. Next, we visitedthe Great Zimbabwe. The Great Zimbabwe are the ancient ruins of a civilization similar to theEgyptian pyramids. For many years under white rule, the country’s colonizers tried to cover48up evidence that a black civilization had built the Great Zimbabwe. Thus, the ruins became asymbol for the colonization of the Zimbabwean people (Frederikse, 1982).After leaving the Great Zimbabwe, we visited two mission secondary schools. The lastpart of the trip consisted of an overnight visit to the Vukuzenzele Agiicultural Co-operative.We toured the co-op, learned about its history, and split up into pairs to have dinner with someof the families. The next day, we had tea with Garfield Todd, a former Prime Minister ofRhodesia who aided the Zimbabwean rebels in the liberation struggle. This contrast ofexperiences threw in to question some of my own beliefs and values. I wrote about this crisisin a cultural analysis paper while I was in Zimbabwe. The following quote contains excerptsfrom this paper. [Note: our assignment was to write these papers in a description,interpretation, evaluation format.]Cultural Analysis PaperDescription:Three separate discussions have culminated in my mind to make mequestion my reactions to Zimbabwe, both its people and culture. The firstconversation occurred during dinner with the ex-freedom fighters at theagricultural co-op. The second incident was out discussion with Sir Garfieldand Lady Grace Todd. The third conversation occurred in our debriefingdiscussion after we returned from Masvingo. Each of these situations sparkeddifferent reactions from me which I feel are indicative of my interpretation ofShona culture.At the Vukuzenzele Ex-Freedom Fighters Agricultural Coop [sic] wehad all gotten together in a group to be dropped off at various houses in pairsfor dinner....The walls, ceiling and floor were all made of cement. Almostnothing hung from the walls. A few objects rested on the mantelpiece, but forthe most part the room was barren. The sun was setting and the room gotprogressively darker as time went on. One candle lit the room....From themoment I entered the house, I switched into a quiet listening and observingmode. I tried to listen to what the family had to say. Joyce’s husband told usabout Garfield Todd and all the help that the Todds had given the co-op as wellas his own family. His son had meningitis and was only able to get medicalattention after the Todds intervened... .He expressed a lot of admiration andrespect for Garfield Todd....The next day we left the co-op of went to the Todds’house for tea. We received a very friendly greeting from them as well. Theylive in a luxurious home with a beautiful garden and view of the river, quite acontrast from the co-op. They served us an elaborate tea with pate and cookiesand Garfield Todd spoke about his efforts during the liberation struggle andhow the people respected him and his property....On Tuesday morning we allgathered at Ranche House College to discuss the trip, our experiences,questions, and impressions. The contrast between the co-op and the Todds’residence was brought up. One person expressed disdain at the lifestyle of theTodds and asked how they ‘excuse themselves’ for the lifestyle they live.49Another person brought up the fact that they had donated the land that theagricultural co-op had been built on. The response was that the Todds weresimply giving back to the people land that was rightfully theirs. The truecharacter of the Todds was never decided by the group as a whole.Interpretation and Explanation:I don’t know exactly why I was so quiet when Todd and I ate dinner atJoyce’s house....I think I may have been in shock and I think that while I was soquiet and trying hard to listen to what they had to say, I absorbed little of whatwas said and done. It was almost as if I drifted in and out of consciousness andjust took in bits and pieces of what was going on. I think that in actuality Ididn’t want to know or hear or understand the conditions in which they wereliving. I felt in shock. The fact that they had no electricity and that they livedin darkness really blew me away....However, I didn’t and still don’t know howto react to the lifestyle of Joyce’s family. On the one hand, I have so muchadmiration for those people. Their perseverance, determination and spirit reallyimpressed me. However, from the standards of American culture their lifestylewas to be pitied. I felt it was something that I couldn’t understand and thatmade me uncomfortable. I don’t understand how people with such clear,determined, righteous paths in front of them could be living in stone houses inthe dark. If I really let myself feel for and think about these people I feelterrible about the stone houses, the lack of electricity and the rotting crops. Myquestion is: Where the hell do they get such quiet vitality? What if I’m placingwestern judgments on them while they are accustomed to dark stone houses and‘hardship’? Then my feelings are completely invalid. I even hope that that istrue because I could picture less suffering, were that the case. I resent feelingpity for people so obviously stronger, more vibrant, and powerful than myself.When I got to the Todds I was comforted by the luxury, the view, thetea and the pate, and the comfort and ease of the Todds’ lifestyle. I was openand eager to hear all about the Todds noble exploits. I immediatelyromanticized the Todds and their lifestyle. I felt so at ease, relaxed and happyafter the visit with them and I felt like they were truly good people.The next day when asked what I liked about the weekend I mentionedthat I really enjoyed meeting the Todds, which sparked the debate aboutwhether or not their efforts to help the Zimbabwean people were truly noble ormerely trivial. When the question was raised of how the Todds’ excusethemselves’ for their lifestyle I became very angry. I thought to myself, ‘Howhypocritical! It’s not right for us to ask other people more accomplished thanourselves to justify their lifestyle, especially when each of us has just spent agreat deal of money for one semester of our education.’ I resented someoneconfronting the Todds, the people who I thought of as noble and great. Themore I thought about it, however, the more confused I became. I wonderedhow the co-op members really felt about the Todds’ contributions to the co-opsand I wondered about the actual motives behind the Todds’ efforts during theliberation struggle.Most of all I wondered about my own psychological workings andimpressions. Why did I shut out the people of the co-op. try to ignore them andturn them off, while I so readily put the Todds up on a pedestal? Was this myreaction to the wealth of each family? Why did I ignore the real issues at stake?I really wonder what it was that I wasn’t ready to confront at the co-op. And ofcourse I wonder if I am really that shallow or if there is more cultural baggageand emotion behind my reactions.I am fascinated with the ability of the Shona people to be so incrediblypolite and respectful. I admire the Shona philosophies of human relations. The50Shona fully acknowledge and gratify the contributions of the Todds and couldbe too polite to say that those contributions originally were rightfully theirs.The Shona people are the noble ones and to feel pity for them seems like such acontradiction in terms. I don’t want to feel pity for the people at the co-ops. Ionly want to feel admiration. At the moment, with the rotting crops, so much ofthe co-op accomplishments seem lost. It’s so easy to admire the Todds’accomplishments. They make it so easy. Regardless, I think that both the coop members as well as the Todds are to be commended and respected, and I feelunqualified to make judgments on their character and motivations. It would betoo self-righteous of myself or anyone else to confront anyone concerningexcuses and justifications of their own lifestyles.This is a good example of how cross-cultural experiences can challenge a person’svalue system and meaning perspectives. It is also an example of emotionally engagedlearning. My identity was tied to my perceptions of the Todds, and when someone questionedtheir right to their lifestyle, it forced me to question my own. Through experiences such asthese and various readings and group discussions we had, I started to realize that the ease andluxury of my lifestyle was directly related to the poverty and hardship faced by the people atthe agricultural cooperative, which was tied in to international relations between First andThird World countries, and global economics and politics.TransformationsThere were many striking characteristics of Shona culture that I recognized andadmired. I respected the importance of kinship and family support, and the way people weretaught to treat one another with kindness, hospitality and generosity. However, this wasdrastically contrasted with the ten year anniversary of the liberation struggle through which thecountry gained its independence from white colonial rule. The anniversary called upmemories of this violent and bloody war, and it was powerful to meet people who had literallyfought for the liberation of their country and people. There were many instances when I wasstruck by the inner strength of the people I met. I was also impressed with the reflexivity ofShona people on culture and the influence of westernization on their lives. The many writersand artists that I met in Zimbabwe drove this point home, and I continue to struggle with thecomplex concepts of culture, westernization, and mental and physical colonization.51My experiences in Zimbabwe opened my mind in many ways. Most significantly, theychanged my understanding of education. I had decided long ago that I wanted to work withchildren in my career. However, I was disillusioned with the field of education because I hadhad many terrible experiences with incompetent teachers, and I feared having such a negativeimpact on children myself. I decided before I went to Zimbabwe that I would never become ateacher. However, through my experiences as a tutor and teacher in the workcamp and myreflections on education, I started to consider becoming a teacher, and I realized that therewere alternative ways of making education a positive force rather than a oppressive one. I feltvery at home with experiential education. SIT was one of my first introductions to this form oflearning, and I was intrigued by it. For me it was a potent way to learn, and throughexperiential education I learned lessons that I will never forget.One concept in particular changed the way in which I conceptualize education.Through the Life and Culture seminar we had a number of readings and speakers on educationin Zimbabwe, specifically on the concepts of mental colonization and decolonization. Welearned how the colonial government had used the education system as a way to control themasses and stay in power by using tactics such as creating elites, encouraging competition, andinculcating inferiority, among others. During the liberation struggle and after liberation,Zimbabweans created their own education system to counteract the effects of mentalcolonization (Chung, 1987). This was my first exposure to the idea that education can be usedto end oppression in society. It seemed completely contradictory to my own understanding ofthe goals of education, and it revolutionized my ideology as well as my career goals. I beganto see many similarities between the principles of experiential education and those of mentaldecolonization, and I realized that both could be used for emancipation and the advancementof democracy and equality in society.ConclusionI have chosen four relevant areas of the experiences of participants for discussion inthis thesis: student backgrounds, important relationships, critical incidents and crisis, and52transformations. I have divided the discussion of my own experience into these sections aswell. By examining the background of each participant, the reader can comprehend the waysin which background has influenced students’ decisions to study abroad. Likewise, becauserelationships have such an important bearing on experiential learning, by exploring importantrelationships of each participant during the semester abroad the reader can understand ways inwhich these relationships shaped students’ experiences, reflections and transformations. Thechapter on critical incidents and crisis describes significant experiences students had and theirreflections on these experiences. The chapter on transformation describes and discusses waysin which students changed as a result of these experiences.Before examining the experiential, cross-cultural learning process, it is important tounderstand the format of the study abroad program in which the students were involved. Thefollowing chapter is an introduction to the organization World Learning. It gives a briefhistory of the organization, and describes the various elements of the program. Thisdescription of logistics sets the stage for the discussion of the learning process.53Chanter Three The School for InternationalTraining’s College Semester Abroad ProgramIntroductionThe School for International Training’s (SIT) College Semester Abroad (CSA) programis used as a framework in this study through which to research experiential, cross-culturallearning. While this thesis is not a program evaluation of the College Semester Abroadprogram, CSA provides a context within which to examine this learning process. All of thestudents interviewed for this study participated in CSA programs around the world. Thischapter presents background information on the organization which shaped and directed bothmy own and the students’ experiences.The OrganizationThe Experiment in International Living was founded in 1932. It was renamed “WorldLearning” on the sixtieth anniversary of the organization in 1992. The Experiment wasfounded in an attempt to further peace and understanding between various cultures and nationsby sending small groups of Americans overseas to live with families. Today, World Learningis composed of three main divisions: the School for International Training, Citizen Exchangeand Language Programs, and Projects in International Development and Training. The CitizenExchange and Language Programs division stems from the original concept of The Experimentin International Living, and its programs are based on the “homestay” concept of cross-culturalexchange. The School for International Training was founded in 1964, as the academic arm ofthe organization. This department is geared towards allowing university students to earnacademic credit, while also incorporating the homestay concept. The focus of this study is theCollege Semester Abroad program, which falls within the division of the School forInternational Training. The division of Projects in International Development and Training,which manages international development projects, was established in 1977 (World Learning,1993). [See Appendix I for a list of programs in each division.] The following is an outline ofWorld Learning’s organizational structure:54World LearningInc..DigZZesterAbZ]Since 1932, World Learning has had more than one million participants in itsinternational education programs. Currently, the organization offers 260 programs in nearly70 nations with more than 54,000 participants (World Learning, 1993). The School forInternational Training’s CSA program offers 47 programs in 35 countries around the world.Approximately 70 percent of the undergraduates in SiT study in developing nations (Sf1’,1993).World Learning is a member organization of the Federation of NationalRepresentations of The Experiment in International Living, which was established inSwitzerland in 1954. “The Federation has held consultative status with the United NationsEducational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization since 1958, with the United NationsEconomic and Social Council since 1978, and with the Council of Europe since 1981” (WorldLearning, 1993).The founding concept of The Experiment was “to learn the culture and language ofanother country by living as a member of one of its families” (World Learning 1993). Themission statement of World Learning is “to enable participants to develop the knowledge,55skills, and attitudes needed to contribute effectively to international understanding and globaldevelopment” (World Learning, 1993). This continues to be the central focus of theorganization.HistoryThe Experiment in International Living was founded by Donald Watt in an attempt totest the hypothesis that human relationships between cultures, based on the knowledge ofvarious ways of living and thinking, could result in mutual understanding and peace betweennations. He hoped to create groups of potential leaders in countries around the world whoknew from personal experience that international understanding on a personal level wasconceivable. Watt’s own cross-cultural experience included work as a YMCA secretary in theBritish Indian Army in Mesopotamia, and travel, study, and work in Europe. Wattexperimented with his theory in the summer of 1932 by taking a group of 14 boys from theUnited States to live with approximately 35 Belgian, German, Swiss, Chinese, and Frenchboys at a boys’ summer camp in Switzerland. The boys ranged in age from nine to nineteen(Peters, 1957).After observing the interaction between the boys of different nationalities during thatsummer, Watt deemed his first experiment a failure. He had expected the American boys toimprove in fluency of the European languages they were studying. However, since there wereother speakers of each boy’s native language in residence, cross-language communication wasnot a necessity. Therefore, groups of friends based on nationality and culture formed withinthe camp. Watt observed that when a large number of boys participated in activities together,nationality cliques were more likely to form than when two or three boys of differentnationalities participated in an activity isolated from the rest of the group. From the firstexperiment, Watt concluded that three languages were too many within a group to establishcomplex communication, and that the camp environment was not conducive to his objectives.He decided these problems could be solved by placing a group of Americans individually inprivate homes in a town in one European country. Watt pictured families which included56young people of approximately the same age as the Americans, so that they would have theopportunity to develop close friendships. Ideally, this environment would force students tolearn the language of their host families more quickly than in a classroom or campenvironment. The family environment would teach students the cultural influences, customs,and way of life of a country.The second experiment took place in the summer of 1933, and was remarkablydifferent from the first. The new experiment involved both young women and men of highschool and college age, and consisted of smaller groups of ten students with one leader.Within the new experiment, individual members of a small group of students were placed in“homestays” with families in the country of study. Thus The Experiment in InternationalLiving became the originator of the homestay concept, in which a student studies the culture,language, and politics of a country by living with a local family. The second experiment wasconsidered a success by Watt, and became the model for future programs. Members of thisgroup managed to overcome language barriers, and generally focused on creating cross-cultural friendships instead of enclosing themselves in groups determined by nationality. TheExperiment was much more than intellectual schooling, but an emotionally engagingexperience. Watt’s goal was to create the type of experience that would be influentialthroughout the student’s life (Peters, 1957).Although Watt was working outside of the traditional academic world, he consideredThe Experiment to be a form of education. However, The Experiment was largely ignored byeducators because traditional educational practices, such as lectures, textbooks, and exams,were not used in its programs. Educators also distinguished between intellectual andemotional education, and viewed The Experiment as the latter. Watt’s criterion for asuccessful program was whether or not the student had a good time. This was an unacceptablemethod of evaluation from the standpoint of traditional educators. Watt also faced defeatwhen he attempted to convince the United States army during World War II of the value ofThe Experiment. In reaction to the rumors of strife between American servicemen and people57of other countries in which the U.S. army was present, Watt tried to persuade the governmentto take advantage of The Experiment in order to improve international relations. However, hewas unable to convince any influential governmental figures of his ideas (Peters, 1957).Watt’s experiment again faced opposition from outsiders when the politics ofAmericans conflicted with those of the country of study. For example, in the 1930’s, TheExperiment had a program in Germany. However, many people in the United States opposedHitler’s Nazi regime, and felt it was morally wrong for The Experiment to have a Germanprogram. Opponents argued that young people had difficulty distinguishing betweenpropaganda and truth and could be in danger of indoctrination, that it was wrong to spend U.S.dollars in Germany, and that the program in Germany could be interpreted as support forHitler’s regime. However, Watt maintained that “if you want to make peace, start to createunderstanding where misunderstanding is greatest,” (Peters, 1957, p. 116). In spite of Watt’sintentions, he was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer. Interestingly, one of TheExperimenters in Germany in 1934 was Robert Sargent Shriver, who went on to become thepresident of Chicago’s Board of Education and the founder of the Peace Corps. In 1936,Shriver returned to Germany as an assistant leader of an Experiment group, and continued hisconnections with The Experiment (Peters. 1957; Leitch, 1993). As The Experiment inInternational Living grew, it became well-known for its language and cross-cultural training.In 1961, Shriver joined efforts with the president of The Experiment at the time, GordonBryce, in the development of the Peace Corps. Once the Peace Corps was established, TheExperiment became the training ground for language and cultural training for new Peace Corpsvolunteers. Many of these languages had never before been written down. As the Peace Corpsdeveloped, volunteers began to go to the actual country for orientation and training (Leitch,1993).In the summer of 1939, war broke out in Europe, and The Experiment’s students inEurope were swiftly evacuated. As Europe was now inaccessible to The Experiment, Wattbegan to explore Central and South America for possible host countries for Experimenters.58Watt initially received discouragement from Americans, who believed that people from theUnited States were too different from Latin Americans to enjoy the cross-cultural experience.They feared revolutions, disease, and lack of sanitation, stereotypes of Latin America.However, Watt persisted and was able to make connections in several Latin Americancountries.Watt also set about recruiting students for The Experiment’s programs. Thus far,recruiting had been a difficult task. Many students were interested in going to Europe, butonly as tourists covering as many countries as possible, not as students in one country.Therefore, Watt relied on word of mouth and friends of old Experimenters to fill his programs.The summer of 1940, The Experiment sent groups to Mexico, Peru, and Japan. In addition,five language camps were set up in the United States and Canada. The following summer, in1941, groups were also introduced to Guatemala, Brazil, and Colombia. With theestablishment of these programs, it was proven that The Experiment was able to succeed inLatin America (Peters, 1957).As The Experiment grew, Watt continued to face opposition when American politicsconflicted with those of a country in which there were Experimenters. In 1951, at the peak ofanti-communism in the United States, The Experiment sent its first group of students toYugoslavia, a communist country. Watt encountered a great deal of resistance, but he arguedthat The Experiment was no longer an American organization, as it had offices all over theworld. Therefore, it could not comply with the foreign policy of any one country. Eachcountry’s citizens were limited only to the countries for which their governments would grantpassports. The Experiment began to adopt the outlook of an international organization, andclaimed that subservience to the foreign policies of any one country was wrong for anorganization that promoted peace and harmony among nations (Peters, 1957).Eventually, Watt gained deserved recognition. In 1951, The Experiment signed acontract with the State Department to provide U.S. homestays for German and AustrianFulbright scholars. In 1952, the Ford Foundation awarded The Experiment a grant for the59Community Ambassador division of the organization, which provided for communityexchange between different countries. In 1954, Watt was awarded an honorary degree ofDoctor of Laws from the University of Vermont (Peters, 1957).In addition to Peace Corps cultural and language training, the Experiment also assistedvarious colleges and universities in the development of their own study abroad programs. TheExperiment helped institutions by setting up contacts and host families in a given country andby providing guidance in program structure, language training, and student orientation foroverseas programs. Once a study abroad program was established, The Experiment pulled outto allow the institution to run its own program (Wallace, 1990).In the early 1960’s, three demands from students and the international community wererecognized by The Experiment. First, as the organization expanded, short-term, summerexchange programs became less attractive to college students, and The Experiment began to bedominated by high school students. College students began to look for study abroad programsfor which they could receive academic credit. Second, there was a demand by formerExperimenters and Peace Corps volunteers for a graduate program based on the goals of TheExperiment. Third, The Experiment received requests from organizations such as UNICEF forrecommendations of well-trained people who were interested in working in the internationalcommunity. In response to these demands, the School for International Training (SIT) wasfounded as a branch of The Experiment in International Living in 1964. What began as amaster’s program in International Career Training later evolved into a master’s program inIntercultural Administration in 1970. At the same time, a Maste?s of Arts in Teachingprogram was initiated for the training of language teachers. After both master’s programs werewell established, in 1972, the World Issues program was started for undergraduates. This twoyear program was the equivalent of the International Career Training program, but at theundergraduate level. The College Semester Abroad program was also developed through SITto offer opportunities for college students to earn academic credit through study abroad(Wallace, 1990).60Although the organization had long before proven WatCs original hypothesis, educatorsconsidered each student’s experience abroad to be an “experiment”, and hence theorganization’s original name remained intact for 60 years. However, on its sixtieth anniversaryin 1992, the name was changed to “World Learning” to better reflect the diversity of theorganization’s activities. The name “The Experiment in International Living” continues to beused today to describe the traditional homestay-based programs.College Semester AbroadThe College Semester Abroad is a 16 college credit, international, and interdisciplinaryprogram, which offers experiential immersion in countries throughout the world. The programuses both academic and experiential instruction techniques in order to promote internationalcompetence in its students. Each program contains six to 25 students, and is composed ofseven main, inter-related components for the study of a specific country and its culture,society, politics, economics, and language. These components are: cross-cultural orientation,intensive language training, one or more homestays, a Life and Culture Seminar, a Methodsand Techniques in Field Study Seminar, an independent study project, and program evaluation.Cross-cultural orientation introduces students to the host culture, the concept ofexperiential learning, and cross-cultural understanding and communication. The orientationbegins with packets of reading material and writing exercises for the students during predeparture and travel time to the country. Students are given country-specific information toread, as well as a number of articles to advance reflection on their own culture from theperspective of an outsider, thus beginning the process of challenging the meaning perspectivesof the students. During this time, students learn the academic requirements of the program,review their own program goals, and become familiar with the group. Secondly, the studentsreceive intensive language training during the program. This helps students to participate inand learn about their host culture. The language training consists of formal classroominstruction from three to six hours per day for two to five weeks, as well as practice in thefield.61The homestay plays a central role in the program. Students temporarily join a familyfrom the host culture, with whom they develop personal relationships, learn to function ineveryday life and culture, and practice language skills. This aspect of the program reliesentirely on experiential learning. The length of the homestay varies, and sometimes there are acouple of homestays to contrast rural and urban life. The Life and Culture Seminar instructsstudents in the history, politics, geography, economics, arts, humanities, and socialanthropology of the host country. This is a rigorous academic aspect of the program. The fifthprogram component, the Methods and Techniques of Field Study Seminar, teaches students toconduct field study within the country’s setting for the independent study project. Thisseminar trains students in the practice of field study, giving them methods for investigation forthe independent study project. Students write cultural analysis papers concerning theirreflections on cross-cultural interactions they have within the host culture.The independent study project allows students to conduct a field study on any topic ofchoice concerning the host country. The project requires written and oral presentation of thecompleted project. Some CSA programs also include a work camp and a study tour. Duringthe work camp, students live in a rural area and contribute their efforts to projects initiated bylocal citizens. An educational tour permits students to explore new parts of the country,enabling them to understand the variety of life styles within the country. The fmal part of theprogram is the program evaluation. This includes the directors’ evaluation of the student, thestudents’ evaluation of the program, and each student’s evaluation of her or his own work.Students have the opportunity to reflect on and assess their program experience, and to discussthe implications of their return home (SIT College Semester Abroad Catalog, 199 1-92).While most CSA programs are general studies of life and culture in a particular region orcountry, some programs are specialized. Some examples of specialized programs are theWildlife Ecology and Conservation program in Tanzania, the Comparative Ecology programin Ecuador, the Women and Development program in Jamaica, the Peace and Conflict Studiesprogram in Ireland, and others.62This brief chapter provides a context for the students’ experiences presented in the nextfour chapters. Furthermore, the explanation of the CSA program should clarify some of thereferences made by the students. We now turn to the backgrounds of the participants in thisstudy, focusing on the reasons behind their decisions to study abroad.63Chapter Four: Participant BackgroundsIntroductionThis chapter is a review of the backgrounds of each of the participants in this study. Ithelps to familiarize the reader with each student, their couniry of study, and a brief personalhistory, and frames the discussion of the learning process in the following four chapters.Participant backgrounds are significant in understanding these learning experiences, becauseeach learner brings a continuum of experience and meaning perspectives to any given learningsituation upon which to base reflection and perspective transformation. Although the scope ofthis study precludes observation of meaning perspectives previous to the study abroadexperiences, an examination of student backgrounds allows the reader to recognize the identityof each participant from which to understand their experiences. Individual identity is a vital toan understanding of experiential learning; the individual cannot be separated from theexperience.64Table1:ASummaryofGeneralInformationofParticipantsIf)CDNAMECOUNTRYGENDERflACkflPfllINfliinncryISPTOPICMAJOR(‘AD____‘rsSusanTanzaniaFemaleStrongfamilyties;3weeks,ArushaTurtleconservationEnvironmentalEnvironmentalHostedexchangeProjectStudiesEducationstudents(Anthropology)MeganEcuadorFemaleNoprevioustravel3.5weeks,IbarraSingleMothersinAnthropologyWomen’sHealthexperience3.5weeks.OuitoRuralEcuadorGregEcuadorMaleSummerLanguage3weeks,IbarraRangerforDryTrop-LatinAmericanEnvironmentalImmersioninMexico3.5weeks,QuitoicalForestReserveStudies,(Env.ConservationGeology)LisaKenyaFemaleNoprevioustravel3weeks,NairobiMuslimGirls’Educ-SociologyandSocialWorkexperienceation.KenyanCoastAnthropologyAngelaBaliFemaleFirstmemberoffamily8weeks,PeliatanObservationsofaMusic,WomenCareerCounselingtogoabroadShinduPriestessStudiesBrianTibetanMaleParentsemigratedfrom2weeks,DharamnsnlaObservationsofReligionMedicineStudiesChina,siblingsstudied1week,KathmanduTibetanTraditionalabroad,notravelexp.4weeks.W.NepalDoctorEmilyBoliviaFemaleSuinnierExperiment8weeksTheMonnonChurchReligionandInt’lRelations/programinMexicoCochabainbainBoliviaInt’lStudiesTeachingl)aiiielleMoroccoFemaleSummerExperiment3months,RabatMoroccanWomen’sAnthropologyLawandorogram.SwitzerlandCooperativesAnthropologyNicoleZimbabweFemale1yearAFSprogram6weeks,liarareZimbabwe’sRuralSocialStudies,SecondaryinGhana6weeks,ChikwakaSecondarySchoolAfricanStudiesEducationSystemJodieCamerooriFemale1yearAFSprogram6weeks,DschangTheBikutsiMusicAnthropologyMusic/Comm.inTurkey2weeks.YaoundeTraditionDeve1omentJamesIndiaMaleTravelexperience10days,UdaipurThe1-linduDeityReligionElementaryastouristGaneshaEducationChrisNepalMale1summerinEngland1week,TaplejungCulturalStudyPaperPhilosophyInt’lDevelopment/5weeks.Katllmandt!ofNepaleseVillageEnv.ConservationSusanSusan participated in the CSA Wildlife Ecology program in Tanzania during the fallsemester of her senior year in college. She recently graduated from the University of Vermont(IJVM) in Burlington with a major in environmental studies and a minor in anthropology.Susan grew up on a farm in a small town in Massachusetts. Throughout her upbringing, Susanhas had a number of supportive and intimate relationships. She has a very close relationshipwith her family, which includes two sisters, one older and one younger. In addition, during thetime of the interview, she had been involved in a significant relationship with her boyfriend,Ben, for five years. Ben sat in on the interview with us, which took place in Susan’s familyhome. This was a warm and comfortable setting for both of us. Her upbringing has had adeep effect on her entire life, including her decision to study abroad.I just feel that because I didn’t move around when I was younger and I grew uphere on the same property, and my family is very strong, my immediate family.My mom and dad are very, very happily married going on 26 years. Just areally solid, strong background. I’m not saying that this is perfect foreverybody, but for me this has been a real pillar, a base in my life that has madeit easier, it made me more capable to go and attempt things that I don’t know if Iwould necessarily feel comfortable or secure doing. So in a way it can prove asa benefit, or a negative effect. It was really hard for me to leave to go toVermont. The only two moves I’ve made really were Vermont and then Africa.And it was really hard for me to leave here because of it. But at the same time,I found it as a strength to leave because I know that it will be here when I comeback, just having a home to come back to no matter where I go. It’s been reallyreassuring. It’s like another one of those things that it’s hard to figure out howmuch it effects me in my everyday life, and how much I would be different if Ididn’t have such a strong sense of place growing up. But I defmitely fmd thatliving here, you can’t tell now, but you can’t see any other houses from thishouse. This is 40 acres of property, and my parents grew up farming. Andthere’s sheep and animals out back. And I defmitely feel like that gave me myenvironmental tilt. For a career, leaning towards environmental educationbecause I grew up appreciating it more on a one to one basis than I think otherpeople have the opportunity to do. And then becoming familiar with oneparticular area of forest, and then there’s two huge lakes like a mile down thestreet. I’ve used them for drinking water a couple times, and there’s notrespassing on them and they’re really peaceful. I walk around down there, andit’s a really strong connection that rye made. (Susan, p. 24-25)Susan’s decision to participate in an SIT program was influenced by a number offactors. The program is very popular at the University of Vermont, especially in theenvironmental studies department. Susan also mentioned that the fact that her hometown is66primarily a Caucasian, homogeneous community led her to seek out different places andcultures. Finally, her family had a history of hosting foreign exchange students. Their supportof cross-cultural learning and study abroad encouraged Susan to participate in a programherself.I definitely had had the influence earlier. We had a number of exchangestudents who lived here. My sister had been an exchange student. When I wasyounger, my sister’s two years older than me, well one of them. And she wentto the Philippines for a year. And then we had a Filipino man come and livehere for a year when she was gone. And after that there were about two othersthat followed. French and Norwegian exchange students. So I had had cross-cultural experiences already. But it was definitely a much different step, meleaving and going somewhere else... .And now my little sister’s an exchangestudent in France. Not right now, but they have this program. My high school’sreally involved in it. She goes two weeks every year for her sophomore, junior,and senior years of high school. When she’s gone, she’s staying at a family’shouse, and then the same family’s daughter is staying with us at a different time.(p.2)Because of her strong ties to home, leaving the “nest” was a gradual process for Susan.She took small steps away from home until she felt secure enough to leave the country, herfamiliar surroundings, and her culture.I was just ready for change. I was just ready to take that step I guess. I grew uphere, I went to U. Mass., Dartmouth which is a half an hour away. So I neverreally left home for my first two years of college. And I had been with Bensince my senior year in high school. Then I moved to Vermont. And I thinkmoving to Vermont was the first step, it was the first kind of break I made.And it was somewhat passive because I could come home. It’s only a four hourdrive. And I gained some independence, but I was still somewhat secure. Andthen I think being up there for a year kind of built up my independence a littlebit and my strength to feel like I could take the step to do something moredrastic, which I just chose to go to Africa. Kind of out of the blue I think. Likeinside I was building up to it, but no one really knew about it. but I knew insidethat it was something I wanted to do. And I also felt like if I didn’t do it now,d never get to do it. I felt like I needed to do it within my college experience.I didn’t want to do it my senior year, so I ended up being a senior for threesemesters, and my first senior semester was abroad. So I definitely built up tobeing able to be ready to take that first step. But now that I’ve done that, I feellike I could do it again, no problem. It wouldn’t be no problem, but I’d feelconfident in the decision. Where as before, even after I made the decision, Ikept questioning myself as it came closer. (p. 40-41)When I spoke with Susan, she was preparing to write her senior thesis on children’senvironmental literature. The main highlights of Susan’s program were a three week homestayin Arusha, a one week workcamp during which students build a water system for a vifiage,67three weeks of field study in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar, Dar-es-Salaam, Mt.Kilimanjaro, and Mt. Mew, and a month-long Independent Study Project which Susan spentworking with a turtle conservation project in Zanzibar.MeganLike Susan, Megan participated in a specialized SIT program, the CSA ComparativeEcology program in Ecuador. Megan grew up on Long Island, New York, and recentlygraduated from the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington with a degree inanthropology. We met for the interview in a busy Long Island cafe. She initially becameinterested in SIT her first year in college, when she enrolled in an environmental studiescourse. The teaching assistant for the course had recently returned from the CSA ComparativeEcology program in Ecuador, and Megan was inspired by the stories of his experiences.Megan herself was interested in visiting a country where she could practice her Spanish, andshe wanted to learn more about life in a non-industrialized country. She also had an urge toget away from her college campus. She knew early on that she wanted to participate in theCSA Comparative Ecology program in Ecuador, and began to plan far in advance.Megan’s family had little travel or cross-cultural experience when she made thedecision to go abroad. She has one brother who is three years older than her, whom shedescribes as conservative and, “scared to go out of the country.” Megan recalled her parent’sreaction to her decision to go to Ecuador:So I told my parents I was going to apply, and I wasn’t allowed to go. I wasabsolutely NOT allowed to go. I could go to Europe, and I could go to CostaRica, but I could not go. And I remember I had this one conversationsophomore year on the phone with my father and, it was one of those annualhuge fights. I was crying, like, ‘You have to let me do this!’ And my father waslike, ‘I’m sorry you can’t.’ It was beyond my control. There was nothing I coulddo. They’re like, ‘You can’t go.’ So they came up to visit, and we [took] ‘Jim’,my TA, out for lunch and they were gonna talk to him. By this time thoughthey had already researched. My dad had called all the State departments. ...AndI can see now, in retrospect, in speaking to people and telling them I’m goingand hearing their reactions, I can see why my parents reacted the way they did.(Megan, p. 2-3)So they came, and we went out to lunch, and it was great. [Jim] talked about itin a very practical way, and I think, I guess dissuaded some of their views. Andthen we went back to his place and he showed us some of his slides, and I68remember he had a picture of his homestay family and they were like sonormal. His mother was a doctor I think. And they were well dressed, and theyjust looked very cosmopolitan. That surprised me as well as my parents. Ithink that shot really helped. My dad was like, ‘Oh my gosh, the people looklike us a little bit. Maybe iCs normal.’ And she was a doctor. She was aDOCTOR. You didn’t hear in the States of women being a doctor, which is sortof like highly esteemed to a certain extent in Ecuador. So pretty much after thatI never asked again. It was just like I was going. I just talked about when I wasgoing. It was just never an issue again. It was really nice. (p. 3)At the time of the interview, Megan was preparing to return to Ecuador for an extendedperiod of time to travel and study Spanish. Some of the highlights of Megan’s program weretwo homestays, each three and a half weeks long in Ibarra and Quito, a field study in theEcuadorian Amazon rain forest, the cloud forest, and the Galapagos, and an ISP on singlemothers in rural Ecuador. Megan spent two weeks traveling in Ecuador after her programended.GregGreg was also a participant in the CSA Comparative Ecology program in Ecuador,although the semester before Megan. He majored in Latin American studies with a minor inenvironmental geology at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Greg grew up in southernCalifornia. There was not much emphasis on international affairs or culture in Greg’s family;it was, however, a personal interest he developed as he grew up. “It always seemed natural tome” (Greg, preliminary questionnaire). He started taking Spanish his sophomore year incollege, and the following summer he participated in a Spanish immersion program in Mexicofor one month. He said that the Mexico program helped him to improve his Spanishdramatically, and he was far ahead of his classmates when he returned to the United States.When Greg discovered the CSA Comparative Ecology program in Ecuador, he decided that itwould be a perfect opportunity for him to further his two main academic interests. Heparticipated in the program the first semester of his senior year. I met Greg at his parents’home in southern California. He discussed his interest in his major:Well, I was a Japanese major my freshman year. And I did that for a year, andit was really difficult. I reevaluated why I was studying Japanese and I what Iwanted out of my learning experience, my educational experience, myeducational goals. And I decided that I really didn’t want to learn Japanese69anymore because Japanese only opens up a lot of opportunities for business andmoney making. And I decided that I wanted to get into Third Worlddevelopment and I wanted to try to do something with my life to help otherpeople and to be a little more selfless. I wanted to learn another language,though. I thought that was very important in the world. And so I decided tolearn Spanish. And I could have either majored in IR, International Relationsor like Econ., or Latin American Studies. And I liked Latin American Studiesthe most because it concentrated more on cross-cultural aspects. It concentratedmore on history, even though you got your economics and stuff like that. But itwas a lot less Poli. Sd. and it was more language and more culture and I got tostudy religion and lots of different things. It was a really good major. (Greg, p.2-3)Like Megan, Greg had two homestays in Ecuador, each three and a half weeks long, inIbarra and Quito. He also had a field study in the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, the cloudforest, and the Galapagos. For his ISP, he worked as a park ranger for a dry tropical forestreserve.LisaLisa participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Kenya in her junior year ofcollege. She recently graduated from college with a degree in sociology and anthropology. Atthe time of this interview, she lived in Connecticut with her parents and was working as anintern in an office for Human Services. The interview took place in Lisa’s attic bedroom of herfamily’s home. Her main reason for studying abroad was to challenge her personal limits.I was just getting really sick of school here and I just wanted to do somethingmore hands on. Just learning directly and not going to classes and not havingsomeone tell me what I should be learning. So there was that part of it, likeacademically or educationally, but I also wanted to just go to kind of find outabout another culture and challenge myself and I guess just do all thosestereotypical things. I wanted to live out of a backpack and just get away fromAmerica and see what I, personally, could do. I guess that’s the main reason.Most of it though is wanting to get away from school and just do somethingtotally different. (Lisa, p. 1-2)Lisa’s parents were very supportive of her decision to study abroad in Kenya.Although Lisa and her younger brother had never done any traveling, her parents traveledextensively when they were younger. While Lisa was in Kenya, her brother spent two weekson a high school trip to Belize. In spite of their concurrent cross-cultural experiences, they haddifficulty communicating with one another about their trips.70[Wje were really not together that much to talk about it. And we sort of tried totalk about it but I think it was very different. He went with three of his bestfriends and about 10 kids from high school, so he knew everyone. Plus theywere only there for two weeks. And I just think that makes a big difference. Ifelt like whenever I would be talking about it, I was sort of overpowering him.It’s like, ‘Well, I was there for four months and it was in Africa and it was justso much worse,’ or whatever, you know. [laugh] (p. 2)Lisa does not consider much about her background to be relevant to her decision tostudy abroad. She is presently involved in the field of social work. When I interviewed Lisa,she was working as an intern for a Voluntary Action Center recruiting community volunteersfor a Human Services Office. She also worked as a program assistant at an inner city afterschool program for “at risk” sixth and seventh graders. In January, she began a maste?s ofsocial work part time at Columbia University in New York. She recently decided to postponegraduate school for a year in order to work and travel in Europe.Some of the highlights of Lisa’s stay in Kenya were a three week homestay in Nairobi,a 12 day workcamp in which students built a series of dams to improve a village’s watersupply, and an Independent Study Project on Muslim girls’ education on the Kenyan coast.AngelaLike Lisa and Megan, Angela had no previous cross-cultural experience. In fact, shewas the first member of her family to travel abroad and obtain a passport. Angela graduatedfrom Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in May of 1993 with a double major inmusic and women’s studies. After fmishing her degree, she moved to Oaldand, California andrecently started a job as a program assistant for women in skilled trades, through which shedoes career development work for a program which trains women to enter non-traditionalcareers. She is interested in starting a career in career counseling. I met with Angela in a cafein Oakland. In the first semester of her senior year of college, Angela participated in the CSALife and Culture program in Bali. This decision grew out of her enthusiasm for experientiallearning.I wanted to go basically because d sort of followed a pattern in my collegecareer. The fall of my sophomore year, I spent a semester in Chicago. And Ireally liked that....I worked in a musical theater producing company....So thatwas very fun, and I liked sort of the experiential learning. So I get back to71Brown for the spring and I was like, ‘Oh man! Here I am back at Brown and it’sFebruary and the weathers really cold, and I’m really not interested in myclasses,’ and so forth....Rhode Island is a small, and, I don’t know. I spent fouryears there, and it’s a nice enough place. Providence is a small city, consideringit’s the capital city. So, I hadn’t entered college with the idea of studyingabroad, and in fact going to Bali was the first time I’d been out of the country.Anyways, after coming back from Chicago I had this interest in possibly doingexperiential learning elsewhere and getting credit for it this time....I don’t knowhow or when I put the name to t. I had internships basically every summer incollege, and I always thought of that as experiential learning. I really likelearning outside the classroom. I like writing papers but I don’t like sitting inclass and I don’t like taking tests or preparing for them or doing boringassignments or stuff like that. And it was really having my summer experiencesthat made me want to take a semester off from Brown and then the subsequentsemester off. I know that when I wrote the SIT application that I describedbeing in Chicago in an experiential learning period. So, I don’t know where Icame up with the term. So I decided to go to Bali chiefly because one of mymajors was music, and we had studied Indonesian music in severalethnomusicology courses....And it just seemed like a very interesting place. Ihad no desire to go to Europe, for instance. And I had taken some courses inHinduism and things like that which related to the culture. And it turned outthat I could fulfill all my requirements in both majors still by studying abroad.And I could probably combine my interests in music and Women’s Studies overthere to do my ISP, which didn’t really end up happening but it seemed like itcould. And it just seemed like the right thing to do. So it wasn’t something I’dbeen planning for years. I basically planned it in a month. (Angela, p. 3-4)Angela recalled that her family regarded the idea as “another one of Angela’sadventures” (p. 5). Two of the main highlights of her semester were a eight week homestay inPeliatan, and observation of the work of a Hindu priestess during her ISP.BrianBrian is another student who had no travel experience outside of North America beforehis semester abroad. Brian grew up in a small town in New York. He majored in religion atColumbia University in New York, and is now a medical student at Yale University inConnecticut. In spite of his lack of previous travel experience, he came from a family andbackground with a strong international and cross-cultural emphasis. Although Brian was bornin the United States, his parents emigrated from China after they were married in order toescape persecution by the communist government. He has two older brothers and an oldersister. Two of Brian’s siblings have also studied abroad. His sister participated in theExperiment in International Living in China when she was in high school, and also has donemedical relief work in Nicaragua. Presently, one of his older brothers is a Peace Corps worker72in Thailand. Brian and I met at his apartment in New Haven. He discussed his personalreasons for wanting to participate in the CSA Tibetan Studies Life and Culture program:A lot of reasons made me want to go abroad. The kind of things, things aboutconvenience and security and having a social network that’s so readily availableand something that’s so familiar to you that you never feel out of control. Thenthere’s also the issue of money. Irvington is a very, very homogenouscommunity, that’s very wealthy. It’s a kind of thing where like the senior highschool, like ninety percent of your class drives to school or the cars are just likeunbelievable in the parking lot, more nice than the teachers’ cars, kind of thing.So I grew up there all my life. Now looking back and being in the Third Worldand stuff I realize what a warped perception of the world that was....I didn’treally have a clear cut definition of why I wanted to go. It’s the kind of thingwhere I grew up in Irvington, I went to school in Manhattan at Columbia, and Ihad family five blocks away from me....And so I guess I can kind of say that Ikind of thought that there might more to life out there, there might be moreunderstanding of the world that I should know about. And rm sure you’vetalked to so many other people and you know about wanting to go and putyourself out on a limb, kind of test yourself to experience a Third Worldcountry, to see poverty, to see war, to see that type of suffering that you don’tgrow up with too much in the States and especially in a kind of really nurtured,protected upbringing that I had. And so when I actually left, I didn’t havedefmite reasons of why I wanted to be on the Tibet program as opposed toanother program. And I didn’t have defmite reasons of why I wanted to goaway. I just knew I wanted to go away and I wanted to experience somethingelse, I wanted to have good experiences, and it actually turned out really wellthat I went to the Tibetan program because it brought in a lot of things about myidentity as being Chinese. It brought in through my ISP, my interest inmedicine. In undergrad, I was a religion major and I studied a lot of TibetanBuddhism. And it all actually integrated really well, and things worked outmuch better than I could possibly hope for. (Brian, p. 1)Brian had few expectations of the program before he left. In fact, he knew little aboutthe program or the places he was going to study. Once he arrived, a major cause of his cultureshock stemmed from his feeling of loss of control.Getting off the plane and having an Indian military guard point a sub machinegun on you with a big dagger in the front yelling at me that I was going thewrong direction, and I was petrified. You know, that sense of instantly losingcontrol and instantly losing the safety and security that lye been used to. Notbeing able to communicate. (p.31)For Brian, control and security were constant issues throughout the SiT program andhis travels following the program. Brian had many exciting experiences during his programand his travels afterwards. He had a two week homestay in Dharamsala, India and a one weekhomestay in Kathmandu, Nepal. He spent two weeks traveling through Tibet on a study tour.During his ISP he lived and studied with a traditional Tibetan doctor. Finally, after the73program ended he spent two months traveling through Nepal, Tibet, and China to explore hisheritage and family’s roots.EmilyEmily grew up in Connecticut, and recently graduated from Kenyon College in Ohiowith a double major in religion and international studies. In her junior year of college, Emilyparticipated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Bolivia. Her international studies majorrequired that she study abroad in her area of focus, which was Latin America. Emily hadmany anxieties about living in a non-industrialized country, especially Bolivia.It was required for my International Studies major for me to study abroad for aminimum of a semester. And I didn’t choose Bolivia. I chose Ecuador. At thelast minute, the Ecuador program asked that I go to Bolivia because theEcuador program was so full. I started studying Spanish when I was 12. So Ijust kept it up through college. But I was very highly functional by the time Igot there. So I was required to go and I went. I went with a lot of anxiety,[laugh] because rm really big on hot showers and electricity. rm not that bigon no running water. And that’s the only thing I knew of Bolivia at the timewas that the water was really toxic and that the infant mortality rate was high,and that it was Third World and that it was dangerous. That people stole thingsout of your luggage when you went through customs. I had to get all theseshots before I went. I had to get yellow fever and typhoid and cholera andhepatitis, and all these shots before I left. (Emily, p. 1)My mom cried constantly about it....She was really afraid of me going toBolivia especially. There’s something in Peru called Shining Path....It’s reallydangerous....Really dangerous, though, my parents thought. They really haven’tdone that much. They’ve infiltrated through parts of Bolivia, but it’s not really amajor problem for the Bolivians. It’s a major problem for the Peruvians. Myparents had read every report. When I was there there was a cholera epidemic.A friend of mine got cholera. Another friend of mine got Typhoid fever. I gotrabies. There’s a lot of disease in this country. Her fear was, I mean she hadcause. (p. 2)Emily’s interest in Latin America and international studies began when she was in highschool, when she participated in an Experiment in International Living program in Mexico.This experience has shaped her personal and academic interests ever since.When I entered Kenyon I knew I wanted to be an International Studies majorand I knew I wanted to have a Latin American Studies concentration. And Iknew I wanted to use Spanish in some context. And rm coming out of Kenyon,and I want to work in an international context. And I want to work in LatinAmerica, or work in the United States and be able to travel to Latin America.And I know I want to use my Spanish. So Bolivia reinforced it, but I knew,when I went to Mexico when I was 15, basically the choice was made....Myparents said I either had to work that summer or I had to do something74educational. So I said, ‘Okay. I’ll go to Mexico and live there for awhile.’ Theywere like, ‘Okay. That’s educational.’ (p. 37)In spite of her experiences in Mexico, Emily was still apprehensive about studyingabroad.I wasn’t that confident to go down to Bolivia. It was too far away. It was thedifference of five years. You go to Mexico when you’re 15, and it was verydifferent than going to Bolivia at 20 for four months and going to Mexico at 15for two months. Or a month and a half even. I don’t remember what it was. It’sreally different. I did feel like I knew what was coming next. Like for thehomestay, I knew I would have my own bed and I knew how SiT worked,because it was an SIT program, a high school program....The Experiment forInternational Living. I felt like I had a good grasp on what was going to comenext. And I wasn’t scared of the shots. One of the things that frightens peopleso much, that I never realized was the shots you have to go through. Theyellow fever and cholera and typhoid. I think their total is like nine or ten thatyou have, when you get all the sets of them. And then rabies is three. (p. 38)My Spanish level was really good. That was mostly from public school,actually. I just had an outstanding languages program. I was always in honorsclasses for languages. I have a good aptitude for languages. It’ s pretty easy forme to learn. Definitely. I couldn’t have done it without that. It gives you allthe confidence in the world to be able to get into a taxi and just tell them whereyou want to go. And have them understand you and take you there. And yougo back to, ‘If I can do this, anytime I come down here now, I can get a taxi.’(p. 42-43)Emily had an eight week homestay in Cochabamba, and wrote her ISP on the Mormonchurch in Bolivia.DanielleLike Emily, Danielle also participated in a summer Experiment in International Livingprogram in Switzerland in high school and had some cross-cultural experience before hersemester abroad. Danielle recently graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts with adegree in anthropology. She now works for a District Attorney’s office in the LaborRacketeering Unit. In her junior year of college, Danielle participated in the CSA Life andCulture program in Morocco. I met Danielle in her dorm room at school. She discussed herbackground and what initially led to her interest in studying abroad:I think all my life, I’ve always thought that I was a little bit different. I went toprivate school in Connecticut. I have a real WASP-y background. My parentsare teachers so they’re kind of the black sheep because my grandparents have alot of money. You know, they’re not bankers in other words. They’re kind ofthe different people in my family. My parents and I get along really well, and75have a really great relationship. But my larger family is really very blind andWASP-y. Just generally the dominant majority in so many ways. They don’teven think twice. Very racist and sexist without even thinking about it. So Ikind of feel like I’m this transplant or something, because I have all thesefriends, none of my friends went to private school. Which in New England, alot of people I know went to private school. All of my friends are eitherinternational students or people who have lived in another culture, or havecultural questions....So I always feel like the people that I’m really, really closeto, and generally, like in a sustained way, are people who are dealing withissues of multiple identity in some way. And I think rm like that. And I don’tunderstand why. I don’t have much time to think [laugh] because I’ve been sobusy. But I do really wonder what it is about me that makes me feel like anoutsider. In a positive way, that’s given me the sense of multiplicity that I thinkthese people have. Even though I’ve never had any essentially cross-culturalexperience. I mean, except for going to Morocco. My mothers handicapped.She’s deaf. So I’ve always been really conscious of the idea of translating. Andhaving to be aware that there’s people who don’t always understand what’sgoing on because they’re in their own little world like my mom. [laugh] Shefunctions fine, but she just can be really funny....And being kind of an outsiderin elementary school. I guess this is probably getting into psychology, and I’mnot sure where the origins of this come from, but my dad was the principal inmy school for a long time, and so I was just this major faculty brat. I wassmart, which is a really bad combination. So they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re dad givesyou grades!’ Crushed, you know. So I felt like an outsider for the good part ofmy younger years. (Danielle, p. 4-5)Danielle’s dissatisfaction with college and her life at home also influenced her desire tostudy abroad.I was really dissatisfied. I used to be a religion major. I was really, reallydissatisfied with that. I’ve been dating the same man for like three years. Butthe first year and a half was so bad. I don’t know why we stuck it out. But Ithink I really wanted to get away as soon as possible from him. It sounds reallyweird, but it was really important, sort of proving to myself that I could beaway. And testing the relationship, and testing my friendships and stuff. And Iknew I wanted to go in the fall. And then I applied to the Antioch Collegeprogram in India, monastery type thing. And then I realized that I really didn’twant to go to India, number one. And number two, I didn’t feel like sitting in aZen monastery for four months, and that just seemed really stupid. I don’t knowwhy I thought it was so cool, for like a week. [laugh]....I wanted to go to theThird World....Actually my advisor, the study abroad advisor here pickedMorocco for me. She didn’t pick it, she just suggested it. But she said, ‘Youwant to practice your French,’ that was another major thing. So I speak almostfluently, following that trip. I studied Arabic. But my family was reallybourgeoisie. So we spoke French all the time. [laugh] Wanted to be European.So I wanted to speak French. I was a religion major, so I wanted to go to areligious country, which was very interesting, actually. (p. 6-7)Danielle stayed with her homestay family in Rabat for approximately three months onand off throughout the program. She wrote her ISP on Moroccan women’s cooperatives.76NicoleNicole spent a summer abroad in high school with the American Field Service (AFS)program in high school. In her junior year of college, Nicole participated in the CSA Life andCulture program in Zimbabwe. Nicole is now a master’s student in education at Stanford’steacher education program, and at the time of the interview was simultaneously taking classesand working on her practicum. She recently graduated from Harvard with a degree in socialstudies and a certificate in African studies. I met with Nicole at her apartment in California.She described her experience with her homestay family as a student in Ghana, and how herinterest in African studies developed:I had gone to Ghana in high school on an APS program in the summer for twomonths. And I was fascinated. I spent some time there in a homestay inTakarati, which is a small-sized town, and stayed with a family who had threechildren of their own but also had several other children who were sort ofhangers on, adopted children. Not formally adopted, but had just sort of beentaken in. And it was a very weird situation for me in a lot of ways because thefather couldn’t decide whether I was his date or his daughter. So I was takenout to bars a lot by him, and the kids were too young really to speak English. Acouple of the older ones did a little bit but not much, and I didn’t know any Twi.And I wasn’t in school, so I didn’t get to meet many people my own age. Iended up volunteering with a preschool. That was fun. I really liked the otherteachers. A nice group of people. And the mother, I really liked her, but shedidn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Twi. So we sort of had thisweird communication. It worked, and we knew we liked each other, but it wasalso very limited in tenns of how much you could do. And they also had thiswhole hospitality thing, where, ‘You are the guest. We will serve you.’ Whichwas very, very strong. I found it much stronger there than I did in Zimbabwe.And, as a result, it took me forever to convince them that I didn’t want to beserved by myself in front of the TV in the main room while everybody else atein the kitchen on the floor, except for the father. So I kind of worked my wayinto getting them to let me do laundry and let me help with the cooking. And ittook them awhile to help me find something that I could do to their satisfaction.My knuckles were dry from laundry, and I didn’t grind things up enough when Iwas cooking. And I ended up with ironing. I ironed everything. It’s tropical,so they had to iron things in order to get the eggs of the bugs out. They ironedbaby diapers and socks. But I ended up doing that like five hours a day kind ofthing. And eventually I got to the point where they were starting to accept meinto the family. But at the same point I got malaria....They treated me withChioriquin which is what I had been taking to prevent getting malaria. AndChioriquin has no effect on that kind of malaria. So I was essentially getting notreatment for a month. And I stayed out for the rest of my stay....So I cameback, and my parents live in San Diego. And they took me to the hospital andthe doctors were like, ‘We can’t believe you’re still alive!’ Because I convincedmyself I was getting better. I blacked Out for the first week. And then after thatI tried everyday to get a little bit of strength back to the point where I couldwalk around the market circle. And I took me a long time to be able to walk77around the market circle....Then I came back and there was this whole big issuebecause, why didn’t AFS notify my parents that I was sick. And people gotvery angry and AFS ended up closing its Africa programs for the next yearwhich I was very upset about. Mainly because of financial reasons. Theybelieve and I agree, one of the things I wish would happen on SIT more, is thatif you send students to another country you should take students from thatcountry. So it’s a reciprocal exchange program, not just one way. And that wasone thing I kept asking the SIT directors, ‘Why are there just American studentshere? Why aren’t there students from many different countries so that we canlearn from each other as well as from the country that we’re in?’ (Nicole, p. 2-3)This experience in Ghana led Nicole to major in African studies in college, andeventually led to her studying abroad again as an undergraduate.Watching people’s reactions, my experience there where I felt like I had justbegun to start to get a handle on things and all the sudden was shut awaybecause of this disease. Even though I was still there, it wasn’t much of anexperience after that in terms of a cultural education experience. So that andwatching people’s reactions after I got back of, ‘Oh, it’s a foreign place. Theydon’t know any better. Of course you would have died.’ And that made mevery angry. I felt like they had treated me as best they could. And if anything,I got much better treatment because I am white, because I’m female, becauserm American. Probably not the female, but definitely the white and American.And watching all of that go on and feeling like Id missed something that Ireally wanted to explore more, led me to study Africa in college....My majorwas Social Studies because Harvard doesn’t have African Studies. Well, theyhave an African Studies department but you can’t get a degree in it. So I gotone of the first four certificates in African Studies in addition to a degree inSocial Studies. Which is a mixture of economics, history, government, and thathas a very heavy dose of social theory. (p. 3)So I decided I wanted to go away. And also at that point I was debatingwhether I wanted to go into international work, development work as a careerand deciding whether or not I really wanted to do that and feeling slightlyoverwhelmed. In the junior fall, [semester] I was taking five courses, I wasrunning a homeless shelter and an after-school program which ran daily, andhad a part-time job....And so it was kind of an escape, because I just felt slightlyoverwhelmed by all of that, and wondered, were those things I wanted to doonce I graduated, working in social service in this country or did I want to workin social service abroad or working in international development or did I needsome time for exploration, as well as recognizing that I wanted to do it for myacademics for my thesis. I brought all these things together. (p. 4)Some of the highlights of Nicole’s stay in Zimbabwe were a six week homestay inHarare, a week-long workcamp during which Nicole worked as a teacher in a secondaryschool, ISP research and subsequent thesis research on Zimbabwe’s rural secondary schoolsystem after the program ended.78JodieJodie recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree inanthropology. In the fall of her junior year, she participated in the CSA Life and Cultureprogram in Cameroon. Like Nicole, a main influence in Jodie’s decision to go to Cameroonwas a previous study abroad experience she had with the American Field Service (AFS) inTurkey after she graduated from high school. She spent a year in Turkey, during which timeshe lived in a homestay with a Turkish family, attended classes at a Turkish school, andlearned to speak Turkish. Her decision to go to Turkey was based on a desire to visit a non-western country, and to learn about a culture dramatically different from her own. Jodie’sprevious participation in a high school study abroad program appears to have provided herwith a basis of cultural reflexivity from which to approach her experience with SIT inCameroon. It gave her the opportunity to explore basic issues of culture and cross-culturalrelations, such that she was able to engage in more complex thought on these issues during hertime in Cameroon.I met Jodie at her apartment in Santa Cruz. She was a cultural anthropology major andis very interested and involved in music. She often combines these interests in her life, and isintrigued by the dynamics of culture and cultural boundaries, and how these are articulated inmusic. She chose to study in Cameroon because of her interests in musical traditions whichcome out of West Africa, such as jazz and salsa. She also was interested in studying in aFrench-speaking country in order to improve her French. She studied French in high school,and continued to study it in college when she realized her interest in going to West Africa.Jodie reflected on how her upbringing influenced her desire to study abroad:I was raised in a pretty neat way and I think I’ve grown to appreciate that morethe more stuff like this I do, and the more I realize that it wasn’t traditionally,typically WASP American or whatever, the way I was raised. And I value thata lot and just want to continue that. Not that that’s bad or anything, but thereare some parts that I realized that made sense to me about being in Cameroonthat because I kind of grew up like that, like in this really old house that werented way out in the country that didn’t have, like I had a high tolerance fordiscomfort because my parents were kind of, I don’t know, just have a differentway of life. So that kind of thing. I don’t know, we grew up in this dump of ahouse, way out, and the pump was always breaking down for the toilet, not a lot79of modem things, a pretty low consumer lifestyle. I grew up camping a lot so Ihad a lot of ability to adapt to things that were going on in Cameroon likewashing my clothes by hand. It was no big deal, bugs and things like that. Itwas like I grew up in this house, bugs, bugs. And like my mom’s bilingualismhas always been an important force in my life, about my relationship with otherlanguages in other communities, in other cultures. Stuff like that. Storyteffing.Storytelling is a really big part of the way I grew up. Because my mom’s, she’sa second grade teacher and is really creative. And my dad was a teacher for along time and he’s now getting his MA and going into Field Biology. And sothe way they taught me to relate to nature and the way they taught me to relateto culture and human beings and stuff is pretty special I think. (Jodie, p. 38)Jodie had two homestays during her stay in Cameroon, one for six weeks in Dschangand one for two weeks in Yaounde. For her ISP she studied the Bikutsi music tradition. Afterthe program ended, she traveled to Kenya, Turkey, and western Europe with friends beforereturning home.JamesJames participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in India the semester after hefmished college. He is presently working as an instructional assistant in a first gradeclassroom in Seattle, Washington. He grew up on Long Island, New York, and graduatedfrom Tufts University with a bachelor’s in religion, which has been a well-defined interest ofhis throughout his life. James and I met in a cafe in Seattle. He described what he considersunique about himself and his background:I have an extremely open mind and a strong appreciation of life and itswonders, although these don’t make me unique, just uncommon perhaps. Iwon’t flatter myself and say rm unique. Only my fingerprints. I enjoy trying toopen others’ minds, as well as my own even more. I grew up as a Reform Jew,and have become very interested in Buddhism as something I can use in mylife, to bring peace to myself, and to others. (James, preliminary questionnaire)Since he was young, James was torn between two career choices, to be a rabbi or to bea teacher. In college, he chose to major in religion, and considered becoming a collegeprofessor in religious studies. As he took courses in comparative religion, he developed aninterest in Eastern religions. In his sophomore year in college, James met a student who hadparticipated in the SIT Nepal program, and was inspired through her to participate in an SITprogram in India after he graduated from college. He was also motivated to study abroad byhis interest in religion.80I started to become a lot more interested in other religions, so I took courses inAsian religions. Buddhism really interested me a lot. As did Hindu. Where Iam now, I’m much more interested in Buddhism than Hinduism. But then,Hinduism seemed more interesting. There are several different religions whichare common in India, which are basically inextricable from the society itself. Idecided to go to India. Like in the United States you go to church on Sundays.And the other six days is secular. There’s a definite schism between religionand secular. And in India it’s not that way at all. (James, p. 2)Hinduism was more interesting to me from a sociological perspective I guess.Because Hinduism is inextricable from the entire country. It’s everywhere. Thecaste system is everything. I mean everything from your occupation to whoyou marry to where you live to, I mean this caste system is just in most of India.(p.3)Finally, James felt the need to challenge himself with new cultural surroundings.I very much wanted to get out of the United States and go to another countrythat was sort of different from where I had lived my entire life. I’ve traveled abit, because my parents like to travel. My dad goes on business. So I’vetraveled to different countries, but I went as a tourist and always a prettywesternized, quote unquote westernized or modernized country. I’ve neverbeen someplace like the royal villages of India before. I wanted to go tosomeplace that would kind of shake my foundations, or open my eyes to atotally different way of life. And it did....All I’d ever known was the UnitedStates. I was very comfortable with the United States. Other than visiting hereor there as a tourist, I was very comfortable with it. It seemed to get stale, Iguess. I wanted to get out. I needed a change, something that would refreshenme in it’s uniqueness. Not uniqueness, but infinite quality of difference. Ineeded something, I needed to learn something different and get out of whatwas becoming very old, and very boring. I mean, I don’t mean to say boring.When I say boring, I don’t mean to criticize and say United States is a boringcountry. It’s not. There’s so much richness and beauty and wealth in everyaspect. But where I was, I guess I wasn’t enjoying it as fully as I could havebeen. And I wanted, I don’t really know exactly. It wasn’t something that I canreally put my finger on why, but I knew I wanted to get to someplace different.Learn about a totally new place. I’ve always been very interested in learningabout other peoples, and I’ve always been very open and welcoming to peopleof every whatever. And, so I’ve always been interested in the other, or in thedifferent. And that was a pretty different, other country to go to. The other sideof the planet, and it’s worlds away. (p.5)Unlike most students, James waited until the semester after he graduated from Tufts toparticipate in the SIT program. He had originally planned to spend a semester of his junioryear in Israel, but the Gulf War broke out at that time so his plans were canceled. However, inspite of the cancellation, he maintained his interest in study abroad, as well as his interest inexperiential education.81rye always been critical of teachers and professors of mine. Because Tvealways been very interested in education. I’ve always been interested inmethods of teaching. So when rye had teachers who were dull and boring, youknow, I thought about why. And I thought about what they could do to make itbetter....And I knew that if I went to India or if I went to Spain, or Nepal, orwhere ever, I would learn a heck of a lot more. Because I could studyHinduism, and I could read about India, but it would still be in the pages. Andnow I’ve seen different castes in action in the social hierarchy. And fve seenthe way that religion really is everywhere in India. It’s not just, you drive downthe road and you see a church in Seattle. There are Hindu temples and Muslimmosques, but beside that there’s religion everywhere. You see it everywhere.And so I learned a heck of a lot more than I could have just by reading. That’s abig reason for my going in the first place. (p. 6)James had a ten day homestay in Udaipur. He wrote his ISP on a Hindu deity calledGanesha. After his program ended, James spent one month traveling around India on his ownbefore he returned home.ChrisChris grew up in southern New York. His father is a Catholic priest. He recentlygraduated from college with a bachelor’s in philosophy. At the time of the interview Chrislived at home with his parents in New York state and was working as a substitute teacher. Henow works at an inn in Maine. In the first semester of his senior year, Chris participated in theCSA Life and Culture program in Nepal. I met with Chris at his parents’ home in New York.He described his reasons for studying in Nepal:Well, I’d always wanted to see Himalayas, and Pve always had this interest overthere and sort of interest in eastern spirituality and stuff like that. And I’d donea lot of reading in philosophy. That was always my area of interest, but at aCatholic school I didn’t get much academic exposure. It was something Iexplored on my own and I thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to actually go towhere Buddhism was founded and see what it’s like over there and see what thepeople are like?’ I just love the mountains, too. So I wanted to be there to seethe mountains and I thought that it was an interesting place to go. I hadoriginally wanted to go to Tibet but when I did more research on theenvironment of Tibet, and the geography and how it’s really kind of closed tothe public now because of the Chinese takeover. And then I did some readingand I’d never really heard of Nepal, maybe just vaguely heard of it, but didn’treally realize. A lot of people don’t know where it is. They think it’s a part ofIndia. And I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this seems like a cooler place because it’s onthe front side of the rain, so Tibet’s in a rain shadow and it’s desert and dry andhigh and flat.’ Whereas Nepal is lush and green and jungles and the mountainsand I thought that that would just be a more interesting environment to be inbecause I generally don’t like deserts and barren. I like trees and forest andstuff like that and Nepal is like that. (Chris, p. 1)82I just thought it was an interesting place, you know the mountains and just thegeography seemed neat. Also what interested me was well, Tibet is primarilyuni-culture, all Tibetans whatever. Nepal tends to be Indians and Indian culturein the south to Tibetan branch cultures in the north. So you got Indian peopleand Asian people and every shade in between. And then with the mountainsand the jungles and stuff like that, people are a lot more separated in Nepal thanthey are in Tibet where a lot of people can sort of move around. It’s just aneasier place to travel around in. So you have these little pocket cultures inNepal. And it just seemed like a very condensed place where there’s a lot ofdifferent cultures. I mean you have cultures that were Buddhism and culturesthat were Hindu and cultures that couldn’t determine which they were. Theywere just sort of somewhere in-between. They’re also separated by the forestsand jungles and the mountains and stuff like that that it just makes for really aninteresting place in such a compact, small area....I didn’t study it thatextensively. But I got a good feel for what it would be like. And I was like,‘Well, geez, this sounds more interesting than Tibet. I want to go there.’ (p. 1-2)Chris had a strong religious upbringing. His interest in religion significantlyinfluenced his decision to go to Nepal.They [my parents] never pushed religion, they were never like strict like, ‘Youguys have to be Catholic.’ I just guess the whole sort of whether it’s upbringingor whether it’s genetic, the whole interest in spirituality and stuff like thatapparently that’s where it comes from. He’s a priest and I’m interested inphilosophy and religion. Different religions. I wouldn’t necessarily subscribeto any particular religion because I have this tendency of finding difficultieswith everyone I explore. This is wrong and that’s wrong. There’s alwayssomething wrong. My big thing right now is just to find commonalties and takewhat I can find from those commonakies and learn from them. But my dadbeing of a different generation, back in the time when it was just rigid anddogmatic and this is what you do and this is the way that church is and youfollow this. It kind of lends itself to make it easier for a person to become onereligion and stick to it. Whereas today I think we’re so exposed to so manydifferent things just from the media and everything else that we’re just sort ofout there like, ‘Well, geez, there’s this and there’s that,’ and it’s really hard to bepart of one religion, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. So I thinkthat’s probably where the interest comes from. I don’t know how it started witheastern religions. I remember when I was little thinking, I remember I askedmy Dad one time. I said, ‘Well, you know, say someone was raised in some faraway country and was never exposed to Christianity, when they died and wentto heaven, would they go to hell? What would happen to them because theynever had a chance to...?’ So I always had difficulties growing up with the ideasof the Christian faith as taught by the Catholic church. So then I started lookingin other directions and I guess just sort of haphazardly came upon easternreligion spirituality and stuff like that. So exploring that a bit. More Buddhismthan Hinduism because Hinduism is just really too complex to grasp. To tryand like study it, it’s just all over the place. At least with Buddhism, or TibetanBuddhism, there’s sort of some rigid doctrines. I mean you can read somethingthat says it is this way and it is that way. It’s easier to focus on, a religion that’slaid down the law like that. That’s why I’m interested in that. (p. 2)83It’s like an interest, it’s like a hobby. But I don’t really see it as a career. I thinkthat there’s so many other important things that have to be done that it kind oftakes a back seat. Religion is one of those things that you can worry about anddeal with when things are going well enough that you have time to deal with it.My world view is that there’s so many things that are just falling apart andmessed up that we’ll worry about religion once we get ourselves straightenedout. In an ideal world I might be happy to be involved in religion or be ateacher or something. But right now there’s so many other problems that have tobe taken care of first. I just would have a hard time putting my energies in thatdirection, you know, watching everything fall apart around me. (p.4)Chris had not done much traveling abroad before he went to Nepal, excepting asummer he spent in England. However, he has always had a fascination with other cultures.It’s always been there. I remember when I was really little I was alwaysinterested in watching National Geographic. My favorite show when I was akid was ‘In Search Of because they’d always do all these cool things aboutEaster Island or all these weird things and different cultures. Then like theNational Geographic specials and stuff like that. (p. 50)Chris had two homestays, one week in Taplejung and five weeks in Kathmandu. Thefirst homestay required the group to trek through the Himalayas, which was one of thehighlights of the trip for Chris. For his ISP, Chris conducted a cultural study paper of awestern Nepalese village.ConclusionThere are a number of significant elements in these student backgrounds. Five of thesestudents had never traveled abroad before their semester abroad, and only four students hadprevious experience living in non-industrialized countries. Most students’ parents and familieswere supportive of their decisions to study abroad, but some were concerned by the foreigncultures, living conditions, and distance of the countries in which their children wanted tostudy. Many students anticipated the opportunity to challenge their personal limits, and to dosomething different from the norm. All students related the CSA program to their academicmajors, and saw this program as a way to contribute to their university education.In addition to backgrounds, relationships shape the experience, reflection, and changethat students undergo in the experiential, cross-cultural learning process. Academic Directorsshape the structured experiences, which students often go through as a group. Debriefingsessions, discussion, and emotional support also happen often within the realm of the student84group. These relationships have a strong bearing on the formation of experience andreflection. Furthermore, the students’ relationships with people of the host culture create thecross-cultural dialogue which can challenge students’ meaning perspectives and lead toperspective transformation.85ChaDter Five: Relationships andEmotionally engaged LearningIntroductionRelationships are a crucial factor in experiential learning. They can determine the levelof cultural immersion achieved by students, as well as their support network. They create thebasis from which cross-cultural learning occurs. In the interviews, I asked students to describeimportant relationships they developed, and to reflect on the effect these relationships had onthem. There were four main categories of relationships that students formed during their timeabroad: relationships with people in their homestays, cross-cultural relationships with peopleof the host culture, relationships with Academic Directors, and relationships with other SITstudents in the program.HomestaysFive of the participants interviewed for this study developed significant relationshipswith their homestay families. Three of these students developed these relationships with theirinitial homestay families, and two developed relationships with host families they stayed withduring the Independent Study Project.Jodie is an example of a student who developed a close relationship with her homestayfamily. Jodie’s host father was a high school teacher of Comparative Literature and her hostmother cared for the family. They had four children of their own, but there were about five orsix other children from the extended family who also lived with them. She developed a closerelationship with the whole family, but she had a great deal of respect for her homestay father.She especially admired the fact that he had studied in Britain for his M.A. and yet had acommitment to traditional Cameroonian life.He was an amazing man. The more I got to know him, the more I reallyrespected him. He had processed the two worlds that he was a part of, the kindof more western, having received his M.A. in Britain and stuff like that, and yetcoming from a traditional background and with really a commitment to that.He’s just one of those people, he just processed, you know. And he helped medo that a lot because I was like trying to figure out what I was doing there andwhy I was there and if it was okay that I was there and all that shit and thepolitics of it all. Not the kind of politics of the country, but in other sense, thepower dynamics, being an American, being white. And he was really86helpful. ...He was the main organizer of the French classes that we all tooktogether, the language classes. And he was good friends with ‘Karen’ and sowe’d walk to school everyday together because he taught our French classes.And when we walked to school, we just talked about everything. I rememberone time he was telling me to do the Peace Corps so I could come back,because he was also the Peace Corps coordinator for Cameroon. He did theirlanguage training. He had his fingers in a million things, but still was a gooddad. He was so cool. Busy though. And so I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know if Ican believe in what the Peace Corps does, and I don’t know if I can really be apart of something with the kind of paternalistic assumptions that they hold.’And he was like, ‘Yeah, but Jodie, you don’t hold those.’ ‘Yeah, but you know,ies my government.’ He was like, ‘Oh, just come. You take things tooseriously. If you have the opportunity then you should do it.’ But he was alsoreally political. We would talk about Langston Hughes and compare it tomovements in literature. He was a quiet revolutionary. He’d always whisperwhen we talked about politics. It always freaked me out, man. And he wouldtalk a lot in metaphor. He would say, ‘Well the climate is very cold right nowfor change.’....I don’t know if it’s even direct or just him making me feelwelcome, and the fact that I could discuss stuff like that with him. Issues ofrace, issues of politics, issues of America’s relationship with Cameroon. (Jodie,p. 12-13)Jodie’s close relationship with her host father enabled her to reflect deeply on her roleas a European-American student in Cameroon and to see herself through the eyes of aCameroonian. This is an example of how cross-cultural dialogue can be part of criticalreflection. It seems that Jodie’s host father had developed his own “third cultural perspective”described by Gudykunst, Hammer, and Wiseman (1977) as a result of his own cross-culturalexperience in Britain, and he helped Jodie to do the same. Through this relationship, Jodiegained the benefit of an insider’s view of Cameroonian culture, an outsider’s view of her ownculture, and an insider’s view of the third cultural perspective.Part of Jodie’s closeness with her homestay family can be attributed to the fact that shewas very adaptable to their way of life.And just the fact that the family just welcomed me so wholeheartedly but itwasn’t artificial or based on misguided assumptions, from what I felt. A realhonest relationship. So that was cool My host mother too. We had somereally good talks....It just clicked. It’s so amazing, and the kids were justphenomenal. They told me I was simple a lot....They meant I think that I wasadaptable to their way of life. Doing my laundry by hand, pounding plantainsand cooking outside and stuff. I don’t know, I guess one of their other studentsfreaked out. She bought jam because she liked jam on her bread. And that wasfine with them and they understood, but it was like one of those things wherewhat they had wasn’t good enough. And so she had brought in jam, which waslike a little thing. And they never held it against her or anything but they werejust telling me, they’d be like, ‘Oh, you know, you don’t even need jam on your87bread, you just eat the bread.’ I think it made sense that I felt really comfortablebeing there and was really happy about it. So it was like a mutual responsething. (p. 13-14)The fact that Jodie developed close relationships with the members of her host familyenabled her to immerse and integrate herself deeply into the culture, and consequently causedher to build stronger ties with the community, the culture, and the country. One of the reasonsshe was able to form these close relationships was because of her adaptability resulting fromher upbringing and previous cross-cultural experience. She continues to write to her homestayfamily, and is hoping that her host family will be able to send one of their children to the study. Jodie’s U.S. family has offered to host the student if this works out.In addition to the main, six week homestay in Dschang, Jodie had a two weekhomestay in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Since the first homestay was in a rural area,this gave her the chance to experience life in a Cameroonian city. Jodie and another SITstudent stayed with a business man, his two children, and his wife’s sister. His wife was awaystudying in the Ivory Coast.[He] had been to France and he was an example of somebody who I felt had notmade a kind of graceful weaving together of his past to his present, and his timein France vs. his roots in Cameroon. Kind of a Francophile. He used to saysome really weird things sometimes like ‘I’m just a little black man’ and stufflike that....So it was like the ideal kind of contrast from my Dschang family.That was when I actually felt homesick, but I was homesick for Dschang, notfor California. ‘I want to go back to my family.’ (Jodie, p. 17)There were hard interactions with my homestay father of that family I livedwith just for two weeks in Yaounde. That was for me a really trying experiencebecause it stressed me out to be there. I missed my other family. And itstressed me out because I didn’t always get to see eye to eye with him on thesethings. And he was really, you know, he was in many ways quite a generousand warm person and wanted to really give us a good time. The ways that hechose to show that were hard for me. (p. 23-24)Jodie told a story of a night when she was feeling very ill, and her host father wanted totake her and the other student out to some bars. They ended up going to a strip show, andJodie faced a lot of discomfort in her repulsion towards the objectification of women and yetwanted to accept her host father’s generosity in showing her a good time and buying herdrinks.88And he was trying to be generous, yeah. And I think he was honestly friendlyand also wanted to show these American girls a good time. And not in a sleazysense, but definitely in a sense that was less true or less the way that I related topeople than with my family in Dschang. It wasn’t the people that I met inDschang. He’s definitely a more city swinging upper class wheeling / dealingand somewhat business-y, you know. Things that I associate with moresuperficial, you know. But I think he was a good man. But I don’t think he hadany other aims or anything. That was just his world. That was kind of aninteresting thing, to face up to the fact that there was a lot of different sides tothis place that I was having such a great time in, and in many ways had held upand kind of pedestalized, like my host family and my experience in Dschang.rm sure if d stayed longer I would realize that there’s stuff about that hostfamily that was not perfect or whatever and I’m sure that at some points thepedestals have to come down. And I try not to do that too much. (p. 24-25)This second homestay allowed Jodie to challenge the concepts of Cameroonian culturethat she had developed up to that point. Her Dschang host family represented an ideal to herwhich was dispelled by her experiences in the Yaounde homestay. She made an almost directcomparison between her two homestay fathers, one who had, in her opinion, created a balancebetween traditional Cameroonian and western culture, and one who had not. This gave her theopportunity to consider on the impact of western colonization on a group of people and theirculture and lifestyle whom she had grown to care about deeply.Two other students had significant relationships with their homestay families, Emilyand Danielle. Emily was placed into a four week homestay in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Shelived with an older couple who had four grown children, and Emily referred to them as hergrandparents. Although Emily was homesick, she liked her homestay grandparents and stayedwith them after the homestay period was completed. She was relieved to discover that theyhad some of the comforts of her own home. She was also impressed with the hardships theyhad overcome in their lives.When I met them, I liked them and I felt comfortable around them. They toldme, I was so glad, that I would have my own room. They were very affluent.They had three TV’s in their house. Which is almost unheard of....They hadthree daughters living in Philadelphia who were sending them stuff. They senttheir daughters there to get educated. Which was amazing because they bothcame from the outback of Bolivia. They were both Indians who didn’t knowany Spanish when they got married. They didn’t speak any Spanish, theyweren’t mainstreamed into Bolivian society. They weren’t mainstreamed intomodern city society. They were living in the countryside on a farm. And whenthey got married they decided that they didn’t want their children to have to livethe same way. They moved into the city, sold everything they had and bought a89big truck. And the man from his late 20’s until his late 60’s drove the truckfrom Cochabamba to La Paz to Buenos Aires to Santiago to Rio, to anywheredoing deliveries and picking up supplies. And he was paid for it. And I guessit was very prosperous. And they could afford to send their daughters tocolleges in Bolivia where they met American men and married American menand moved to the United States. (Emily, p. 10-11)Emily wrote a letter home to her parents in which she described her homestay family.In it, she seems to describe the family through U.S. cultural standards. On one level, she feltlike she could relate to them well because of their familiarity with her own country and culture.These people have 4 [jç] children (3 of whom live in the U.S. with theirhusbands in Philadelphia.) One daughter is a doctor, two daughters are teacherswith master’s degrees, and their son is an architect. They have visited the U.S.4 different times, and been to Phili., NY, NJ, Baltimore, Virginia(Williamsburg) and Disneyworld. They LOVE Disneyworld! They’re reallygood stock though. (Emily, letter to parents, September 10, 1992)Emily enjoyed her homestay and liked her host parents. However, as the homestayprogressed, her personal freedom became a major cultural issue between her host parents andherself.I explained to them straight off, that in the United States I’m allowed to choosemy friends, and rm allowed to choose what time I come home, which they didtry to comply with. [laugh] They didn’t find much success. It was veryfrustrating to them not to know where I was, with whom I was, why wasn’t Iwith friends of the family. And then I tried to explain that I was not part oftheir culture and in my culture I can go out with who I want to. In my culture Ichoose my friends and I choose where I go with them and what I do. And if Iget in trouble I take the consequences. And it was not too acceptable afterawhile. But Diana, my program advisor, she was real good. She said, ‘If youfeel claustrophobic, you say, ‘Diana’s having a party tonight. I have to go to it.’’Diana, because Diana’s name was first in charge after an emergency. Anythingthat happened to us, Diana was the fmal word. Not our host parents. If Isuddenly wanted to move out of my homestay, my host parents can’t say a thingabout it if Diana says it’s fme. Which eventually happened to me. And Diana’sattitude was not Tm your leader, listen to what I say.’ Her attitude was, ‘In theUnited States, you’re old enough to vote and drink. You go do what you want.If you feel as though you need to move out, you move out. If you want to stay,you stay. You want to do this, you do this. You are adults. You take theconsequences of your actions. ‘Which is how my parents view the world whichmade it a lot easier. Because if I said, ‘Diana, I can’t stand living here anymore,’she said, ‘Okay, you’re an adult. Go find a hotel and move in. Tell me whereyou are, tell me when you leave. Tell me when you move in. If there’s a bigblow up, then let me talk to them on the phone or I’ll come over.’ (p. 14)Emily’s decision to leave her homestay occurred during the Independent Study Project.She had made arrangements to stay there during this last month of the program, and was90paying them a fee to cover her room and board. However, during this time Emily met andstarted dating a Bolivian man. This set off a major cross-cultural conflict, as her host parentsattempted to limit her interactions with him.[M]y host mother had a talk with me and she said, ‘You keep going out with thesame boy and he calls here.’ And I said ‘Yes, he calls here when he wants tospeak to me.’ ‘We don’t want him to call here anymore.’ And I said, ‘I ampaying to live here. And I care about both of you. I like living here, but it’s notfair to me that I pay to live here and I can’t receive phone calls.’ She was like‘You can’t use the phone anymore and he can’t call you.’ And I was like ‘Did Ido something wrong?’ And she was like ‘No, but you’re getting too serious.’Which was totally outrageous for me to hear this from people who are not evenmy relations. At the time, that’s what I felt....I had four weeks there and hewould pick me up at like nine at night and I would come in at two in themorning. And I had my own key and I was quiet, and I did not feel like I wasgiving these people cause for them to say this to me. They had a major problemwith the phone. They didn’t want him to call their home. He wasn’t calling, lestyou think he called everyday, he would call twice a week maybe....When theytold me I couldn’t use the phone anymore unless I was calling the United Statesto call my parents, I was furious. And I said ‘I can’t live here if you make thesekinds of rules on me. I’m used to more freedom in the United States anyway.In the United States I have a car and in the United States I can do this, that andthe other thing. Now I understand this isn’t the United States but to be deniedphone privileges, for you to tell me who I can and cannot be friends with, I can’tlive like that for four weeks.’In addition to conflict with her host family, Emily was being pressured by Thomas tomove in with him. She did not feel comfortable doing this, but nor did she feel comfortablestaying with her homestay family. She decided as an alternative to move into a hotel withanother female SIT student for the remainder of her stay. This caused further conflict.So I told them. They were furious. They were like ‘What do you mean you aregoing to move into a hotel? You’re chasing this boy.’ And Pm like ‘No, I’m notmoving in with this boy. I am moving into a hotel. I cannot work here. I thinkthat you’re angry because I need to use your telephone. But I need to use yourtelephone. I need to call people. And not just this guy. Pm doing a projecthere where I need to call people all the time. And I need them to be able to callme.’ And they would hang up on people who called me, regardless of whetherit was a male or a female, or they would just be like ‘She’s not here.’ Click....I’mnot their family. I liked them, and I cared about them. And I’d love to go seethem once a week or go out to dinner with them a couple times, but I didn’twant them to be able to tell me what to do....I had a big fight with them. And Ididn’t see him ever again, the grandfather. Which was really painful for me,because I liked him. I really did. He was kind to me and I liked him, and hewould not see me again after that....She would come to see me every so oftenand bring me treats or ask me to come for dinner. And so I went for lunch twoor three times, but he was never there. Conspicuously so, because he wasalways there when I had lunch, every other time. So I knew he was angry, hada problem with it. I did talk to him, a month after I left. I talked to him New91Year’s Day. And he acted like nothing had ever happened. And he said,‘Happy New Year Emily! How are you doing?!’ And on and on and I was like,‘You wouldn’t even say good-bye to me.’ And it was sad. It was too bad. (p.23-24)These limitations on her personal freedom caused Emily to realize how much shevalued her independence within her own culture. The relationships with her homestaygrandparents and with Thomas forced her to confront her own cultural values as sheexperienced a loss of personal freedom, and led her to reassess the importance of her personalautonomy. The psychological intensity of the experience was increased as she felt a loss ofpower in these cross-cultural situations (Paige, 1993).Danielle had an unusual homestay experience. Like Emily, she also remained in herhomestay for the ISP part of the program, in addition to the actual homestay period. Shedescribed her homestay.They’re really, really wealthy. My host father was a colonel in the Moroccanarmy. Which is the biggest system of perks I’ve ever seen. They had like threecars, TV’s and servants and a house. It was remarkable. So they were reallywealthy. They were wealthier than my family. It was just a really nice house.And so that was kind of weird, to go to the Third World and live in this reallywealthy home. I was a little disappointed, but I guess again it has to do with allthe notions of authenticity. ‘They’re not REAL Moroccans,’ you know. Theyweren’t like the majority of the population, but they were really unique. Theywere great people. (Danielle, p. 10)Danielle developed intense relationships with her homestay brother and sister, bothwhich largely shaped her experience.I had a relationship with my host brother. He’s 25,1 think he’s 25 now. But thatdidn’t start until like November. My host sister, I think is psychopathic. I reallydo. They only had two kids, which is unusuaL But she is possibly the most, Iswear, I don’t usually call people mentally ill. I think it’s because she’s totallyugly and she’s totally stupid. Those are the two kinds of neuroses that womenget in a society like that. That women really don’t have any power, especiallyamong bourgeois women. I went to a rural village later in the trip. And thewomen, they had no power on paper. But they controlled everything. Theywould make the food, if they ever wanted to stop doing something to make apoint, the whole village would fail apart. It’s sort of like with capitalism I think,where the woman stayed at home like a housewife. So she really didn’t haveany power. She had servants to take care of the food. So she just exercised allday. This was my host mother. It was kind of a strange combination of aMoroccan and western life. So my Moroccan sister, if you’re beautiful, thenthat improves just everything for you. Even good looking. She was not. Andshe was really stupid. And they didn’t encourage anything in her, nothing at all.So I think she probably got more and more stubborn and self-hating. It was just92this big mass of self-hatred that made me so nervous. And she was just soscrewed up....But she was really great to have around in the beginning, becausewe were really great friends. And then she was extremely possessive and shemade my life hell towards the end. Absolute hell....And her family was like‘Oh, she’s crazy. Everybody knows that.’ They wouldn’t do anything about it.At the end of the semester, a couple nights in a row, she would just sit there andyell at me for like three hours about how I’d ruined her life and I was totallymessing everything up, and why didn’t I tell her from the beginning that I didn’twant to be her friend. And I was like ‘No, actually, you just possessed me,basically, or tried to the whole time.’ Whatever. That was really awful. (p. 10-11)Danielle looked to her host brother for companionship after the relationship with herhost sister deteriorated.He was just a really good friend to me. We always talked at the end of the dayabout how things were going. He was always interested in hearing about mylife. It was really good to have a friend like that. And I think we becamesexually involved because I was curious and because it didn’t really matter tome. But for him it was so different, because in his culture, I think it’s reallyconfused. He told me once that I would be a slut if I were Moroccan. But hedidn’t mean it like insultingly. He just meant that if I were Moroccan I wouldn’thave had the same experiences. It doesn’t really make sense. But I wasn’t. Iwas American. And I think that was really attractive to him. I was really smartto him, smart like smart-ass kind of. And so he really likes strong women.Like his mother’s really strong. He definitely had an Electra complex in a bigway. So he was really, really important to me in terms of making myexperience more whole, in the sense of being able to go places with him. Wewent out with his friends all the time. It was really fun....We knew it was goingto end. Actually, he was in a relationship with somebody else when I first gotthere. And I started asking him questions about it because I didn’t reallyunderstand it. It seemed like he was just using her and he wasn’t really happy.So I started asking him about it, and saying ‘Aren’t you using her?’ And hebroke up with her. It was really weird. I feel sort of strange about that still.That I had that much influence on him. And I think he actually was more intome than I was into him. For example, he would say things like ‘Oh, in theUnited States, ll defmitely come and we’ll go out.’ And I was like, ‘The onlyplace I would ever date you is in Morocco.’ (p. 11-12)Sexism and feminism were significant issues in Danielle’s relationship with her hostbrother, as well as throughout her stay in Morocco.He was so sexist in so many ways. He was borderline cooL If he had beenbrought here and given a good dose of American, I sound like a social-imperialist here. But he was just so weird. He was very, very smart, but at thesame time wanted to be like an upper-class pig, basically. Go to prostitutes anddo nothing, kind of. But at the same time there was a side of him that was like‘Oh, I want to get out of here.’ I think it’s a conflict for a lot of people in theThird World. They have different identities. (p. 12)Pm a pretty big feminist. There were things that he said that were absolutely,like discussions about virginity that we had. He’s like ‘All men like virgins.’ I93was like ‘That is a load of crap. That is your fantasy. Virgin, virgin, virgin.Sexual control over women.’ So there was also a whole issue in our sexualrelationship that, while it was very exciting and sexually interesting, at the sametime, he was very into kissing me and doing things TO me. Ideologically I wasnot an active participant, even though he wanted to pleasure me. Superficiallyit looked beneficial to me. But ideologically, he wanted to do this to me and if Ididn’t want him to, it didn’t matter. It just happened to be that he wanted topleasure me, but that was no longer a pleasure....And so I kind of let thingsslide. And behavior from my sister that I think is psycho. Part of it is justbeing in another culture and ignoring stuff that we think is wrong. (p. 23-24)Danielle faced a difficult conflict between her cultural and personal ideals and wantingto adapt to a new culture. Having to make such major compromises eventually left her feelingviolated. That she felt she had to “ignore stuff we think is wrong” within these tworelationships is another example of how cross-cultural relationships can work to challengecultural values and meaning perspectives. In her observations of her homestay sister, Danielleassessed male and female power relations in Morocco. She resented her sister’s self-hatred andattempts to “possess” her. She then turned to her homestay brother, who appreciated herinteffigence and strength. They engaged in cross-cultural dialogue concerning women’s sexualroles in both American and Moroccan culture. Danielle seemed to be torn between assertingherself and her own beliefs and accepting the cultural values of Moroccans. The high degreeof sexism she experienced in Moroccan culture created a sense of cultural marginality forDanielle, and this threat to her meaning perspectives led her to a re-commitment, or a strongercommitment to feminism.Both Nicole and Brian had uneventful relationships with their initial homestay families,but instead bonded with the families they stayed with during the Independent Study Projects.Nicole was not engaged in her homestay in Harare, but she had an exceptional homestayexperience in Chikwaka, a rural village where the work camp was held. Nicole stayed withthis host family three times while she was in Zimbabwe: during the workcamp, during the ISP,and after the program, while she collected her data for her senior thesis. During theworkcamp, Nicole worked as a teacher at a nearby secondary school. Her ISP and thesisresearch was a study of Zimbabwe’s rural secondary school system and employmentopportunities for students. Nicole described her host family:94They were really wonderful and they were very welcoming, very open. Andthis family had hosted seven SIT students. There were two of us staying thereat the time. And I guess three or four before had come back and spent moretime. And I spent another two and a half weeks there during my IndependentStudy Project. And when I was doing that, the school was out of session. Soon a daily basis I got to spend the morning helping around the house, doingchores, making corn meal out of corn, sweeping floors, polishing floors. Allthat good stuff. And then in the afternoons, ‘Melissa’ and I would go and getinterviews....And so we’d go interview people, and even though it wasn’t asintense [as the first time I stayed with them], it was probably better than the firsthomestay because I got to learn more about the family and they didn’t stage abig party every night. And occasionally we’d have one but it was much morenatural. And I got to watch them do day to day work and participate in some ofit and watch baba organize his own garden. He kind of organized thiscommunity garden that he’s in charge of. Everybody has their own plots. Andso that was a lot of fun. And I never did quite master maldng sadza over anopen fire. It was just too intense. They were just wonderful people. And boththe mother and the father spoke English which was nice because it meant thatwe could communicate on a deeper level....And they were great. No questionabout it. They were just wonderful. And the girls and I slept in the same hutand they took care of me. Taught me the ways. [laugh] And if anything theywere overly accommodating at times. But that was okay. At the same timethey were really anxious to show me by having me do. So they wanted me tolearn by doing. Which was really neat. And we’d start to, because I wasteaching at the school which was right nearby, they would start askingquestions about the United States and other countries, and also to help withtheir math homework or their English homework or whatever. And that wasneat too because I really got a sense of where they were. And at one pointMelissa asked me, ‘So what planet do you live on?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well,we live on earth. What planet do you live on?’ Because they see the planes flyoverhead. It never clicked that they’re just going around the world. They’re notgoing to another world. And it was really interesting. And they were muchmore open about asking those questions than a lot of the kids were. (p. 13-14)During her stay in Ghana as well as Zimbabwe, it was important for Nicole to be aparticipant of a family. She also believed strongly in social service and communityinvolvement. Her host family in Chikwaka gave Nicole this opportunity to immerse herself inthe culture. Nicole had a strong sense of family, and being part of one through work and herrelationships allowed Nicole to feel closer to Shona culture. Through her relationship withMelissa, one of the older children in the family, they educated one another about their differenthomes, cultures, and ways of life.Brain had two initial homestays, one in Dhararnsala, India and one in Katbmandu,Nepal. As a Chinese-American, Brian had many anxieties about entering a homestay.95I was terrified through the first homestay because of being Chinese, I wasn’tsure how I was going to be perceived by these families. The parents, myhomestay parents, they were part of the group that fled from Tibet when someof the Chinese took over. So I wasn’t really sure how they were going toperceive me because I could tell them that I’m an American and my only basisfor that is that I was born in America yet my parents are Chinese. And so that’sthe same as saying that their children are Indian and not Tibetan. So it was likeif rm insisting that I’m American because I was born in America, that’s like mesaying that their children are no longer Tibetan which was a problem becausethey are trying desperately to preserve their culture and not have it integratedwith the Indian culture. And so there’s so much, I mean understandably there’sso much hatred and anger toward the Chinese by the Tibetan people. And sowhen I had this homestay I wasn’t sure how I would be perceived because Iwould imagine that, I don’t know whether they knew that their student wasgoing to be a Chinese-American or whether or not they were looking forward tohaving a new son who was blond-haired, blue-eyed, 6’4” type of guy. Orwhether or not they were gonna find somebody who not only was more familiarbut was more familiar in a negative way....I kind of knew that it would be anissue, and I didn’t know how I would address it because I knew I would have areally intensive experience, coming from a situation that would put me in apotentially conflicting situation. It was like this type of thing that I couldn’tpossibly prepare myself for in terms of what I would do. I would just have toplay by ear and see what happens. For the homestay it actually worked outfine. I got along really well with my homestay father as well as the family.The kids were very young and they had no idea I was Chinese or whatever. Itwasn’t an issue in the homestay. It became an issue in very many otherinstances. But for the homestay which I was most terrified for, it wasn’t anissue for that at all. That actually worked out really well. (Brian, p. 7)The second homestay in Kathmandu was less successful than the first because it wastoo short for students to get to know the families well. In addition, the Tibetan families inKathmandu had few ties left with the Tibetan culture, as they had lived in Nepal for manygenerations, long before the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Brian had a particularly unsuccessfulsecond homestay because he was sick while he was there and he left early to travel to the siteof his Independent Study Project. However, his racial identity proved not to be an issue in thesecond homestay either.During the ISP, Brian stayed with the family of the Tibetan doctor with whom he wasapprenticing. Brian developed a close relationship with this family, especially Tsampa, thedoctor. He went to a small, isolated village called Dumba in western Nepal, which was a tenday hike from the nearest paved road. Since Brian was studying medicine and religion, Jean,the Academic Director of the Tibetan Studies program, directed him to a traditional Tibetandoctor in this area and suggested that he study with him for his ISP. During a four week stay96in Dumba, Brian observed patient relations as well as kept a record of traditional medicinesthat the doctor used in his treatments. Brian described his introduction to Tsampa, the doctorwith whom he apprenticed:And so I put on my backpack and went looking for this guy. He had no idea Ieven existed. I couldn’t telephone ahead, I couldn’t mail anything on him. I hadno idea whether or not he was there, whether or not he had died, whether or notanything. And Jean had met him like years ago. And so I went there and wentthrough the towns and with the Nepali I picked up, I figured out which town hewas in, and where he lived. And I knocked on his door, and he wasn’t there andhe wasn’t coming back until that evening. I just hung out and talked with hiswife, and met the kids. Another student has studied with him I think two yearsago and so I kind of made a connection between myself and this other studentand that I was going to be in a similar situation. And so they understood....Andso I banged on this guy’s door and I spoke to his wife. And from the experienceof this other student, Jean kind of knew that I was going to be put under acertain type of test by him, to see whether or not I was really serious orinterested, just because this other student had. Basically he put this otherstudent to help him with his chores and really put him through a lot of hardlabor almost just to get him to show that he was really truly interested in thisman, in this culture and in this way of life and not just a passer-by type oftourist who is just interested in checking things out, and really wants to becomepart of the community. And so that was one of the reasons I did all the choreswith the rest of the family. I slept in the same pile as the other children and halfthe time I was working the fields, I cut down trees and did a lot of things that Iwould if I were actually a member of the family. That was actually my moresignificant unofficial homestay, where I was really integrated into the family....Ihad worked for an ambulance for four years before I went on the program. Andwhen this doctor was away that day, I’d been there for maybe an hour or so andthere was an emergency with a woman who came in and she had basicallyhacked away part of her hand. She didn’t like lose any appendages but she hadmassive bleeding and what not. And so I’m trained in that kind of emergencytype stuff in terms of bleeding control and infection control and I was carryingall my stuff, just basic first aid stuff. And so I took care of her hand andapparently that ended up being my test then that Tsampa was looking for. Thatdidn’t really show that I was interested in the Tibetans, that it showed that I wasinterested in medicine and interested in helping the people and interested inbeing part of the community in terms of helping the commumty....And so hewas happy about that. He was impressed about that. And his wife told himabout that and then they gave me a nickname which was Ingee Amchee U-tog.‘Ingee’ is the word for foreigner, it’s more translated as barbarian. ‘Amchee’ isthe name of a doctor, and ‘U-tog’ is a famous Tibetan doctor. So this becamemy nickname that he introduced me to everybody. (p. 9-10)Because of Brian’s Chinese heritage, he was especially reliant on his actions and crosscultural dialogue to demonstrate his interest in the Tibetan people and culture, and hisideological opposition to the Chinese government. Tsampa’s mentorship and acceptance ofBrian into his home demonstrates that Brian was able to communicate his intentions, in spite97of the language barrier. Tsampa became a significant role model for Brian, and his studieswith him during the ISP allowed Brian to reflect on his aspirations as a doctor and as a humanbeing. Tsampa also lived a life shaped by Buddhism, which impressed Brian.This is a person who completely embraces all the ideas of Buddhism. Believesit 100 percent and you’d really see every bit of it reflected in everything hedoes. In terms of being compassionate toward his wife, toward his children,toward his patients and in terms of him wanting to really help people, not justmedically but religiously and also personally and socially. Watching himinteract with people and seeing him in difficult situations and still be socompassionate. I guess a lot of things that these Buddhist people have shownme is that they do so much meditation, so much learning to control their mindin terms of controlling their emotions, in terms of clearing their thoughts....Iguess what I got to see was that these people really, really embrace life. Andwhen they meditate, I mean I can’t even tell people in the States that I meditate,just because they look at you weird as if you do something that’s really, incertain circles it’s inappropriate. But seeing them, they have a lot of controlover their lives in terms of their emotions and they’re so at peace withthemselves and they’re so at peace with nature and with other people. Younever feel any friction from them, any anxiety. I mean they’re just so relaxedand laid back. It’s so hard for me to put a finger on it. By going to see thesepeople, see how they can essentially be so happy, especially Tsampa. In themiddle of nowhere, I mean forget about telephones and stereos and CD’s andanything. In his very simple life he is so happy. It’s just like I’ve never metanyone who is so happy as he is and who has embraced his family. It’s justeverything he does, he’s just so content and relaxed....And realizing that peoplecan be that way, especially in terms of growing up in the States and having somuch emphasis on materials goods, and seeing someone lived in this way andhave a frame of mind with little, in fact, of any of these material goods that I’vegrown up with. It’s really, really quite amazing. Especially, I’ve tried to showthat Irvington [my home town] is very wealthy and very much based onmaterial things and appearance and circles, all that crazy stuff. And seeing thatpeople can really live in a different way. I mean, this little village in the middleof nowhere, there’s about 70 people in the village. I was there long enough torealize that there are all the normal social problems that people, rm not sayingthat there’s no competition there. People talk about other people, the normalthings are there. But also to see this doctor and to see how he is as a doctor alsoin terms of how he related to his patients. It was very eye opening to how onecan live their live....And living with Tsampa, I said before that that was like myreal homestay. And really becoming incorporated into this family. It’s totallydifferent from where I grew up. Like doing all the chores in terms of, likethere’s no bathroom, there’s no toilet paper for like 50 miles in every direction.Going out with the family, going down to the river everyday to fill up thesegiant jugs of water to bring back. The wife could carry three times as much as Icould. Tsampa’s wife was the most unbelievable woman. She wasn’t big at all,she had complete discipline on the kids like you would not believe. A reallyincredible woman. And then like living with this family and you’re sittingaround the fire and doing all the chores and helping cook. Just sleeping in thesame big heap as everybody else. I didn’t even take out my sleeping bag andsleep in my Gore-tex North Face. It was like getting under, literally lying uplike sardines with the rest of the family. It really showed me that there are otherways to live that are as happy if not much more so than the way that I grew up.98fm not saying anything bad about my parents, but just that there are otherperspectives to take. And then also being with Tsampa, going around. Goingout on a horseback and going to these certain villages and treating these things.I was his helper for this time. (p. 26-27)Brian’s observations of the lifestyle of Tsampa and his family caused him to criticallyreflect on his own lifestyle in the U.S. His meaning perspectives were challenged as herealized that his own culture’s emphasis on material goods was problematic. He also wasdeeply impressed by Tsampa’s practice of Buddhism, so much so that he began to practiceBuddhism himself.Although the other students did not develop particularly close relationships with theirhomestay families, a number of the students, such as Megan, Susan, Lisa, Angela, and Greggenuinely liked their homestay families and developed good relationships with them. The tworemaining students expressed disappointment in their homestay families and did not form closerelationships with them. James had a ten day homestay in Udaipur. He shared a homestayplacement with the one other male in the program, Zach, with whom he became good friends.Their host family was very wealthy, and consisted of two parents and a 16 year old son. Jameswas somewhat dissatisfied with his homestay placement.I wanted a traditional Indian family. What I got was a very modernized,wealthy Indian family. The mother had gone to college in the United States.The father was a wealthy, his family was wealthy land owners. And so theyhad a huge house. They ran a private school. They only spoke English aroundthe house. They spoke a couple of other languages, but they basically onlyspoke English around the house. Which was terrible for me because I wantedto learn Hindi and all the other students, in their homestay they would practiceHindi. Me, I felt like an idiot trying to ask them to speak in Hindi because theyspoke English. Their son only spoke English with his friends because Englishis a cool, modern language to speak, and if you have a good education youspeak English. So, they didn’t, they spoke English all the time. I wanted topractice my Hindi. I felt like such an idiot stumbling around in Hindi withthem. So as much as I wanted to learn it, I ended up not bothering with it.Very nice people. Very nice family. But very uncomfortable because theywere a very wealthy family. And so we’d wake up every morning with aservant bringing us chay, tea. We’d wake up to bed chay, which is a servantcomes and puts a tray down on your lap and gives you a pot of tea, chay. Andthat wasn’t what I wanted. And we couldn’t say, ‘We don’t want this.’ And Itold Ashwin [the Academic Director] that I would have preferred a differentfamily, but by then it was too late because that was where I was. (James, p. 17)99The homestay appeared to be a disappointing part of the program experience for James.The brevity of the homestay may have contributed to this, as James did not get a chance todevelop in-depth relationships with people in his host family. It is unclear why the homestaywas so short. Furthermore, James expected his homestay family to be “traditional”; he did notexpect them to have a westernized lifestyle. He had hoped to challenge himself by living away of life radically different from his own; instead, he found one that was all too easy toadapt to.Chris was also disappointed that his homestay family in Kathmandu was quitewesternized, as well as by the fact that they were Hindu as opposed to Buddhist. He hadhoped to study Buddhism while he was in Nepal. Like James, Chris found it frustrating tohave to speak in English instead of the language he was attempting to learn.Everybody had a different experience. My family was a Brahman Hindufamily. I wanted to stay with a Buddhist family, but that didn’t work out. Acouple of kids stayed with Buddhist families. But my family was Hindu, theparents were youngish, like maybe mid thirties, late thirties. The kids werelittle kids, kindergarten age. He worked for the government so they were a verywesternized family. Their oldest daughter had been born in Mississippi. Hewent to Mississippi for two years to study agricultural management orsomething lilce that. So he’s been here so they’re very westernized. I mean theylive very Nepalese just because you have to be really rich to live what wewould consider our western type lifestyle over there. They both spoke Englishwell. It wasn’t that kind of homestay I would have wanted. They really kept tothemselves, did their own thing, I had a room. I was so busy with the fullschedule that the school gave us as far as the lectures and language class.(Chris, p. 19)The age was right, but I wished that somehow they were more traditionallyNepalese. I mean this guy was in the government, had studied in America. Wecould sit down and talk about American things and stuff like that. I kind ofwanted a family that maybe spoke less English. As nice as that was from timeto time that they spoke English, they didn’t really help me learn my Nepalesebecause it was just easier to speak English with them. So that was a problem. Ithink I rather would have been with a Buddhist than a Hindu family because Ifind that the value structure and the moral structure that Buddhism sets up issimilar to the moral and value structure of Christianity which was somethingthat I was just amazed by. Whereas Hinduism is set up a different moralstructure and value structure altogether that I was more uncomfortable with. Imean I could go and sit with a Buddhist family and it was like being with aCatholic family or a Christian family. Just the way they were and things thatthey found important about interaction with people and stuff like that, was verysimilar to what I was used to being around Christian people or Jewish people,western religions. I was able to find a lot of similarities with my backgroundwith the Buddhists. While they had a totally different religion, I think that the100social structure and the end morals and sort of day to day values were almostidentical. Whereas the Hindus were sort of, like being personable and friendlywasn’t as valued. (p. 20)James and Chris’s relationships with their homestay families demonstrate a dynamiccharacteristic of all cross-cultural relationships to a certain extent, how preconceptions andexpectations can shape cross-cultural interaction. However, they also demonstrate howstudents use these relationships to develop new conceptions of people, cultures, and religions.These students were able to expand their understanding of the diversity that exists within onecountry and culture. “Traditional” or “authentic” culture is often romanticized by students, andwhen students witness the extent to which westernization has influenced these cultures throughcolonization, imperialism, and commercialization, they are disappointed. They study abroadin the hope of encountering new cultures and lifestyles, and are disturbed when theysometimes find mirror images of the culture they left at home. In many of these cases,students compared the elite, western-like lifestyles they encountered in the host countries withthe lower class, poverty stricken lifestyles which can be romanticized as “traditional.”Unfortunately, only some of these students had opportunities to be immersed in this way oflife. One dynamic at work here may be the selection of the homestay families. It is possiblethat the families who volunteer to host U.S. students may be more westernized or haveexperience studying or living in industrialized countries, and therefore have an interest incross-cultural relations.Relationships with People of the Host CultureIn addition to the homestay families, students developed a multitude of other crosscultural relationships. Three of the female students and one of the male students becameromantically involved with people of their host culture. Danielle’s relationship with herhomestay brother has already been discussed. Emily had a relationship with a Bolivian manthat eventually led to the detriment of her relationship with her homestay family. However, itshould be noted that she did not move out of her homestay to be with Thomas. Rather, she101moved because she did not feel that she could live or work there after the conflict. Emilydescribed the relationship:I met him at the fair. I guess I was dating him for about four or five weeks. Wemet each other and we started dating, and everything moved really fast. And heasked me to live with him. And I really liked him a lot. He was fun, he wasolder than I was, he was wealthy, which, I got to admit is really fun if the guywill take you to really nice places and pay for it and pick you up in his BMWwhich is unheard of in Bolivia....He was very slick. So he asked me to live withhim, and I said ‘No. I can’t live with you. If this was a Bolivian girl youwouldn’t ask me to do it. You’re asking me because I’m American. And I don’tlike it. And I won’t do it. And he was like, ‘No, that’s not why I’m asking you.’(Emily, p. 22-23)But the whole time, having a relationship with a Bolivian, I think, is a reallyunique experience. And I’m really glad I did. And I don’t mind that thatconsumed so much of my time. It didn’t bother me in the long run. So I wouldstay over at his house, we dated for maybe four weeks. Pd say I stayed over athis house, well it started out maybe twice a week for the first week. And thenmaybe three times. And for the last two weeks, it was rare that I slept at thehotel. No, for the third week I think I slept at his house almost every night. Iwas living over there. But then we got into a big fight the end of the thirdweek. So my last week, like four days went by, and on my second to last day,he called. And he’s like, ‘Do I get to see you before you leave?’....We had agreat time together. But I don’t know. Some things need a lot more time thanothers. (p. 25)Emily was disturbed by the expectations Thomas placed on her based on stereotypesabout her race, gender, and culture. She was torn between her desire for personal autonomyand frustration with the stereotypes of American woman. This was another instance where across-cultural relationship caused Emily to challenge her meaning perspectives and recommitto her value of independence. The relationship also enabled her to reflect on gender relationswithin Bolivian society, which is further discussed in the following chapter.An important relationship that Megan had while she was in Ecuador was with Jordan,whom she met when he worked as a rain forest guide for the SIT group. Like Danielle andEmily, Megan’s relationship gave her insight into the host culture which she might not haveotherwise discovered.The rain forest guide, Jordan and I ended up being together for the next threemonths when I was in Ecuador. It was really funny because he ended upintroducing me to a very different part of Ecuadorian culture that I wouldn’thave been exposed to, because he was an elite Ecuadorian....In a way it wasstrange because the relationship, the part of the culture I was getting to see wasmost analogous to my own. Upper class, everyone had gone to college in the102States. We would get high together. It was just like, I could have been hangingout at college. It was really funny. It was great....So it became this wholesocial scene. Actually at one point I would feel bad about it. ‘What am Idoing? I’m in Ecuador!’ We went to discos at night. I couldn’t believe what thediscos were like. It was like a New York city disco. All the women werewearing black. Tall and lanky, and had these gorgeous bodies, penned hair. Iwas like, ‘Whoa!’ It was such a weird experience for me. I hadn’t seen it on thestreets or anything. I went to this disco and there it was. (Megan, p. 30-3 1)This is another example of a student who initially romanticized traditional life inEcuador and expressed surprise at encountering a way of life that seemed just like home.Since Jordan had a great deal of cross-cultural experience himself, Megan’s relationship withhim allowed her to view the three perspectives of insider to the host culture, outsider to herown culture, and the third, cross-cultural perspective. He also taught her a great deal aboutEcuador in general.He came to visit me when I was doing my ISP. He was like the guru of my trip.Everyone on my trip loved him because he was this major source of knowledge.His job in Ecuador was, he was a tour guide, and in the country only fourpeople ever reach the status of National Guide which means that they couldguide the Galapagos, they could guide the rain forest, there were all thesequalifications, and he was one of them. So he was a plethora of information.He knew everything. People would always say, ‘When’s Jordan coming? Ihave to ask him something.’ Whether it was where they could go camping orwhat kind of bird this was. So he was friends with the whole group, and hewould come out with us and stuff. (p. 36)I think it definitely added to my experience. If I hadn’t had that relationship,my experience would have been different and I can’t imagine what it wouldhave been like. I don’t think it would have been a worse experience or a lesserexperience, but it definitely enriched my experience. I was having this loveaffair. Everything seemed so much better. You were happy, and this partnerthat you were into. When I think back to Ecuador it’s like, in general, a very,very positive experience. And I’m sure that’s part of it. We just had a nice,healthy, good relationship. We were good friends, good buddies. In terms ofthe cultural sense, he was very knowledgeable. He helped me out a lot, evenjust with my ISP. He knew people I could call, and he was always givinginformation. (p. 37)When students become romantically involved with people of another culture whilestudying abroad, it seems to increase their level of cultural immersion because they developintense emotional connections to the host culture and country. Once their emotionalinvolvement is grounded in the host culture rather than at home, they feel more free toimmerse themselves.103Chris developed a relationship with a Nepalese woman through which he gainedinsight into the gender relations in Nepalese culture. He was disturbed by what he discovered.I sort of got involved with this one girl, that was sort of strange....But it wasreally, really weird kind of up and down. She was living with her uncle whotreated her badly.. ..And she was like 20. It was a weird situation but it was aninteresting experience. We still keep in touch. She wants to come to Americasometime and she wanted me to marry her and I’m like, ‘No, sorry. lye gotthings to do yet.’ I hope she comes one day because she’s really nice. She’slike, ‘My uncle is going to make me marry some guyl don’t want to marry.He’s going to get drunk and beat me.’ Because that’s a lot of times whathappens....And she’s like, ‘Every Nepalese woman wants to meet a westernerand go back to Europe because they just treat them much nicer.’ It’s not somuch they want to get out of the country. They just know that they’ll have abetter life and they’ll have rights and they’ll be respected and they’ll be treatedwell. Like her aunt had run off with some mountain climber from SantaBarbara or some place out in California. She lives out here now. Lamu isprobably looking to do the same thing. It was interesting. (Chris, p. 29-30)Through this relationship, Chris was confronted by the predicaments faced by Nepalesewomen. In his involvement with Lamu, he could better understand her feeling of fear at thethreat to her well-being and her desire to protect herself than he could have if he had onlyheard about the situation second-hand.A number of students also developed significant cross-cultural friendships. Emily wasfortunate in that she was able to develop many close relationships during her time in Bolivia,which was something she actively worked towards. She learned a great deal from theserelationships, and she is still in contact with many of these people. One example is herfriendship with Maria.I had a good friend who lived a block away from me, Maria. She was a fewyears older than I am, she was about five years older than I am. And we wouldgo, we would go out to discos. She was considered kind of racy. Not byAmerican standards. By American standards she would be considered prettytame. But by Bolivian standards, because she went out without a brother,father, male cousin, and because the people who she went out with didn’t askpermission from her brother, father, or male cousin, she was considered racy.[laugh]...She was a language student. So she and I went out very often, becauseshe was like a regular American to me. She was the best contact I could havefound because she was a Bolivian. She knew where to go in Bolivia. She knewwhat to do, she knew where the good places were to go. But she wasn’tconfmed by the boundaries of most Bolivian girls, or many. And so we wentout often. (Emily, p. 15)My friendship with Maria definitely exposed me to Bolivian culture in a waythat I couldn’t have been exposed by any other American. Because she’s104accepted by her culture, and she would drag me along to everything that shedid. And I mean, I was taken to house parties, I was taken to birthday parties, Iwas taken to barbecues and to dance parties. And all these houses and people’shomes. And none of my other American friends got to see anybody else’s homebut their host family’s home. Or maybe one other. And I went to scores ofplaces. She was my most important relationship there, culturally I think. (p.28)Emily admired Maria’s independence in the face of Bolivian cultural standards thatrequired women to be chaperoned. Emily strongly resented this rule, so her friendship withMaria was a form of rebellion. Maria also gave Emily access to other parts of the culture thatshe would not have seen on her own, allowing her to immerse herself culturally withoutrelinquishing her freedom.James developed a number of intimate relationships in India from which he learned agreat deal about Indian culture as well as his own culture. An example is his relationship withRavi.I became very close to Ravi very quickly. I learned a lot about Indian menfrom him. He and his friends are very much motivated by honor, by honor andtrust and friendship and loyalty. Very, very strong. If something happens toone of them, all their friends would go to bat for him. They’ll do anything fortheir friends. They’ll go to any lengths to stand by their friends. Friendship isextremely important. Very important. They have very close bonds offriendship. A lot more so than I’ve seen, not that there aren’t close friendshipshere, but they’re not openly talked about. Ravi is very open about that, andabout emotions. And so ifs much more described to your face how importantfriendship and loyalty are to him and his friends. Where as here it might beimportant, but you don’t really talk about it that openly. You don’t say, ‘I reallyvalue our friendship, and I would go to any lengths to stand up for you.’ Imean, it’s not like that. There it is. I mean, it’s great. It’s wonderful. It’s reallyrefreshing. And we became very good friends. We traveled around togetherand we learned a lot about each other and each other’s countries. So that wasjust a good, a very good friendship. We still keep in touch, and we’ll alwayskeep in touch. One thing that it did was it put into a more clear light my ownfriendships with other people, and how I value certain things in them. What isimportant in friendships, what is important about friendship, since these ideasof friendship and trust and loyalty were very out, very open, very much talkedabout. It brought into the forefront of my mind, or at least out of thesubconscious. And so I thought about my own friendships more consciouslythan subconsciously. (James, p. 24-25)This is another example of how cross-cultural relationships function to challengemeaning perspectives. Through his relationship with Ravi, James was able to reflect onfriendship, both its value and how it is expressed.105Although the overall experience seemed to have a profound impact on Greg, he couldnot pinpoint any specific relationships that affected him. Rather, the people he did meet andthe experience of interacting with people of Ecuador helped him to develop a new perspectiveon his place in the world. One encounter in particular helped Greg to consider his place as aprivileged member of the global community.[O]ne very influential person was this lady Solidad, who was the woman whowent with us to the rain forest. And she lived in Quito, and I went out with herone night to some bars and stuff. And I got into this whole discussion with herabout what to do now, sort of thing....And I said ‘You know Solidad, it’s reallydifficult to look at life, to look at your place in life, and you can see your lifegoing two ways. You can either see your life, you can either say, ‘Screw all theproblems of the world, they’re too big for me to handle. Tm going to just findmy own corner of happiness in this world.’ Or you can say, ‘I can’t liveknowing that there are larger problems in the world. I can’t live in my ownlittle isolated world and just forget everything else.” And she said to me, andshe’s speaking as a very wealthy Ecuadorian woman. And she says to me, ‘Youknow, if you can even comprehend that question in your mind, if you can evensay to yourself, ‘I have the choice to go either way,’ there’s so many people inthis world that have no choice. If you can even think about making a choice,then you have to make the choice for the better. You have to make that choiceto help. And you have to make that choice to devote your life to making theworld a better place because you’re a very small percentage. The people whocan make that choice are a very small percentage. And it takes all those peopleto really make a difference.’ And that was something that Pve never forgotten,obviously. I haven’t forgotten that. And that was very influential for me.Because here’s someone who comes from a land where she’s wimessing firsthand development in the Third World, and she is a very enlightened person, andshe’s educated and she thinks the same way I do, and she is surrounded bypoverty, and she is one of the lucky few. And so she says herself, ‘I’m one ofthe lucky few. I’m going to make a difference.’ And so that really made adifference to me. (Greg, p. 14-15)Solidad caused Greg to question his capacity to disregard the world’s social problems,and to realize his obligation as someone with a great deal of privilege to work for socialchange. It is within these cross-cultural relationships that cross-cultural dialogue is madepossible, leading to confrontation and sometimes formation and transformation of meaningperspectives. Through these encounters, students commit and sometimes recommit to valuesand beliefs which are challenged, threatened, or placed in jeopardy by opposing culturalbeliefs. They also commit to new meaning perspectives, and gain knowledge about their hostcultures, the abstract concept of culture, and global politics such as colonization and106westernization. It is through these relationships that students become emotionally engaged inthe host culture and the learning process. Although this is an element neglected by Mezirow(1991), it seems that emotional involvement and conmitment provide significant opportunitiesfor perspective transformation. Once a student is emotionally involved with a person, and thatperson challenges the student’s meaning perspectives, the emotional commitment in therelationship makes it difficult for that challenge to be ignored.Relationships With Other SIT StudentsSome of the participants interviewed developed significant relationships with other SITstudents. James became romantically involved with another student on the India program.This relationship had a deep effect on him.I learned a lot from Kayla. I learned a lot. She’s somebody that I probablyadmire almost more than anybody else rye ever met. The more I knew her, themore I kept going, ‘Wow!’ My slack-jawed, wide-eyed, she in her 23 years onthis planet has done so much for so many in so many different ways, that it justmakes me realize how I’m wasting my time and how I have wasted, squanderedaway, so much of my time on such trivialities....She was just nominated one ofthe Points of Light. Last year forty people in the country were nominatedPoints of Light, elected Points of Light by the government. She’s one of them.She’s 23. That just sums it up. If I had an hour I could talk about the thingsshe’s done and still not finish. She’s just as humble as can be. Very modest,very humble. And she considers what she’s done to not be enough. She’s doneso much more....I mean, and she’s done so much work with so many differentgroups. And she still thinks that she hasn’t done enough. We were just hangingout one day on the roof of Randevas where we were staying. And she startedcrying. And I was like, ‘What, what’s going on?’ And she said something like‘In the past 30 seconds, five children died of starvation and I didn’t do anythingto stop them.’ AND SHE WAS REALLY CRYING ABOUT THAT. And itwas just, she’s done so much but still works, believes that what she’s done is justnot enough. She’s just driven. She’s so motivated, so driven to help people.And it’s just the utmost inspiration. It’s amazing. She’s such a role model. So Ilearned a lot about dedication, devotion, and I got a lot of inspiration from her.It also put me in my place, you know, under her heel ground down in the dirt.But she’s very humble. She doesn’t get high and mighty about it. She’s a reallybeautiful person. She’s constantly in awe of the beauty of life, which is onething I totally picked up from her. Just being constantly in awe of life. And it’ssuch a miracle. This is such a wonderful thing and even if you’re not doinganything in particular, even if you’re bummed out about your job, you’re alive.The sun is shining. Even if it’s not shining, what’s the difference? You’re aliveand there’s so much to be thankful for and appreciate that you should be inconstant awe of what’s around you. I could take hours and stifi not finish. So Ilearned a lot about devotion, dedication, inspiration, motivation, hard work andfriendship. (James, p. 26-27)107Although this was not a cross-cultural relationship, James’ relationship with Kayla hadsome of the same effects. It caused him to be emotionally grounded in India and to becomeconnected to the place. It also challenged his self-concept in terms of his ability to help others,and his appreciation of life. By observing these characteristics in Kayla, he could reflect onhis own characteristics.The SIT student groups were important sources for emotional support during times ofculture shock, crisis, and homesickness. The relationships that Angela developed with othermembers of the SIT group shaped her experience by offering emotional support as well as anescape from the cultural and physical conditions to which Angela had difficulty adjusting.Well, with Americans, certainly, I made several good friends, which was a goodand bad sort of situation. It was very important to me that I had friends there. Iwas very glad I did. But at the same time we would sort of feed on each other’sanxieties. Like, oh my God. During the write up of the, that was another thing.We had a week to do our write up period of our projects. And I lived with onefriend during that time. She and I were, together, so neurotic. It was really bad,looking back. We would feed on each other’s anxieties. Just like, okay. Wehave seven days to do this project. We have nothing else to do. That’s fme.God I really want to go home.’ [laugh] Not anxieties, but sort of being fed upwith the program and so forth, and just the difficulties of not being able to workafter dark because there was no light, stuff like that. But at the same time, I’mreally, really grateful for the friends I had while I was there....Some people werevery independent. Or I’ve heard people who have done other programs whowere very independent or whatever, and they jumped. I sort of waded into theculture, and some people jumped head first into it. Ideally I would have spentmore time with Indonesians. If I hadn’t had these American friends, then Iwould have done that I guess. When I think about it, I sort of regret it, but Ialso think that I was doing the best I could while I was there. I just sort of wishthat I had balanced it a little more. I’m sort of a solitary person given theopportunity, and so I wish I’d spent more time with my family in the evenings.I would be just apt to stay by myself or go visit a friend rather than join them onTHEIR porch. I had MY porch and they had THEIR porch. Things like that.Because some people did develop very strong relationships with their families.Well, not that many people, but some people did. So I do regret that I’m stillin touch by letter with, I’d say, three people. And they give me news from otherpeople in the program that they’re in touch with. I want to keep in touch withthese people because we shared this really bizarre experience together. Peoplewant to hear about your trip. But a lot of people would go, ‘So how was Bali?Was it great?’ And there would be so much more than, ‘Oh it was great,’ to talkabout. So having those people to say, ‘Gee remember that time we were allthrowing up at the beach?’ is important to me. So I do want to stay in touchwith them, as much as possible. (Angela, p. 14-15)Angela had difficulty becoming cross-culturally engaged in Bali because she resistedforming cross-cultural relationships. Anxiety from culture shock and homesickness, which she108hadn’t expected to encounter, limited her ability to immerse herself in the culture. Angelalooked mostly to the SiT group for emotional support to help her through this frustration.Group dynamics among the SIT students were also an important force that shapedstudents’ experiences. Megan, Brian, Jodie, and Chris all had very positive experiences withgroup dynamics among the students in their programs. Throughout the program, Megan wasengaged in close friendships with other students in the group, and was pleased with the groupdynamics. Her relationships with other students expanded her horizons, as she bonded withpeople from very different backgrounds.We’d sit around all the time and sing. We were brother and sister. You know,lying over each other, together. Really comfortable. I kept in touch with myclose friends from the trip. My friend Amber who lives in Texas. My friendSean lives in Boulder and I’ve seen him. Stephanie, she went out of thecountry, but she went to Brown. So when I was in Vermont we used to seeeach other....I made friends with different people and that definitely enrichedmy experience. I’m sure you experienced this too. Thank God, you’re goingthrough this experience and you need someone to share it with. And I reallyjust did need to talk to some people. And Amber, who ended up being myclosest friend, is this country bumpkin from a small town in Texas, never beenanywhere. She’s very different from most people that I was used to beingfriends with. And it was a lesson for me, when I physically judge someone,because I saw her and I just didn’t think we’d be friends. It’s not even in theway she dressed or anything, it was more her whole aura that she gave off. Wewere from such different places, and everything, that I never thought we’d befriends. And she ended up being my closest friend. So that was a good lessonfor me, just that, because I always judge people like that. Getting to be friendswith people that I wouldn’t normally be friends with. (Megan, p. 38)Chris had an excellent experience with the other students on the program. They formeda good support group for one another, but at the same time, all the students had a great deal ofindependence from the group.Twenty-two I think, 11 girls and 11 guys. The interesting thing was though isthere was like one love interest in the whole thing. I was just amazed because Ithought well, 11 girls, 11 guys, this is going to be really interesting. We all gotalong fantastically, had a few problems, but man rye heard of all othersemesters abroad where people cliqued off and had groups. It was just such awild experience that we all just bonded together. It was just fantastic. Butthere was none of that. I think everybody was so busy with their own thing,they didn’t have time for that. It was definitely an interesting group. And weall met for the first time at JFK. That’s just cool It was really scary. We wereall just like being really lame and trying to be cool and stuff. It was so funny.We had a few good laughs about it later on. (Chris, p. 6-7)109At one point, Nick [the Academic Director] got all teary eyed late at night andsaid we were the best group he’d ever had. And we were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yousay that to every group.’ He’s like, ‘No, you guys are different. You stucktogether.’ I guess from what both of them said we were a better group as far asgroup dynamics went. We all got along. There were a couple of kids that werejust sort of lame and nobody could deal with but they weren’t alienated, theyweren’t ostracized. We just kind of took them in. We all just really pulledtogether and we all got along well with the directors. He had said that thesemester before that everybody had like grouped off in their own little cliquesand it got really ugly....With ours I think everybody was so independent thatnobody really had a serious need to build small little support groups. Of evensupport in general. I think everybody could have pretty much done the programby themselves. So when people did need support, it was like the whole group,this one big group. I think that happens a lot....I think the group dynamics, Imean that’s just going to happen, it’s just human nature. (p. 31)Other students encountered problems with group dynamics. Working through theseproblems and learning to adjust to group living was a part of co-operative learning. Susanliked the other members of the SIT group and developed some close friendships within thegroup. However, part way into the semester, she had a difficult time with the close livingconditions that the group was in, and this caused some conflict.There was inevitably tension. I don’t know what most other groups are like.But there were 21 students and for the first two and a half months, we were justinseparable. You were always with the same people. And you just havetension that builds up. We were camping. We spent two weeks camping in theSerengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, in two or three person tents, traveling inthese huge overland vehicles that fit almost all the group in one vehicle. So ifyou weren’t back at the campsite, you couldn’t leave because you were at anational park and it was dangerous. If you weren’t on the immediate campsitethen you were on the vehicles together all the time. Day in and day out. Andthen we went to Mweka college and stayed in the dorms there for a week,which was the same thing. You went to dinner together and whatever. Andthen we went off and did another national park for a week, which was the samething. So by the end of that, we were just like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ The ISP, I think alot of people just needed some space to get away from the group and from, youknow, everybody handles it differently. Some people just talked about really,what I felt were trivial things. Just missing what I felt were the most importantaspects of the trip. Talicing about, whatever, missing hamburgers, or whateverthey talked about, always focusing on that versus focusing on the good. Theyalways focused on the bad. But everybody handles it different. By ISP, I wasdefmitely ready to be by myself. It didn’t work out that way, but I would haveliked for it to. (Susan, p. 4-5)Although Susan encountered conflicts with other students in the group, these conifictsforced her to be independent and to look to other sources for emotional support. This was a110huge step for Susan, who had feared homesickness, culture shock, and isolation during thebeginning of the program.Danielle was initially disappointed with the other students in her group, but shedeveloped some good friendships as she adjusted to the new environment.The first few months were pretty difficult. I was really lonely. I didn’t like thepeople in my group that much. I mean, I did eventually, really like them. But ittook me a long time to begin to like them. (Danielle, p.9)It was pretty much split in two. People who were kind of like, Tuck this. Thisis so lame,’ and who smoked a lot of hashish too. I think that was just their wayof dealing with it. A lot of them had really bad home situations in theirhomestays. They just needed to be figure out their own trip I think....So I thinkthat the three women that I wound up hanging out with were definitely the mosthealthy. Just really into traveling and a lot of stuff. They’re all so different. Ithink Jessica, she’s very charming, very impulsive, Latin American, verytemperamental. I think she helped me relax a lot. And for some reason we saweach other as highly amusing, but at the same time it was a really goodconversation. So it worked out really well. And Beth and I just really gotalong. We spent a lot of time together. I don’t know what it is. She’s black andso we talked a lot about race. And Michelle is like this psycho-feminist dyke,very funny woman from LA. It was hilarious. I don’t know why she was there.But we really hit it off. Because I think I was a person who could reallyunderstand her sensibilities, but I was also not as extreme as she was. (p. 16-17)Danielle received a lot of support from these three important friendships, which helpedher to endure some of the crises she faced during the program.Some students were disappointed with the lack of knowledge and sensitivity of otherstudents in their groups. When Lisa first met her student group, she was surprised to discoverthat some students lacked some basic precepts of cultural sensitivity. She did not particularlybond with the other students in her group at first, although she did develop friendships later onin the program.We had a group of about 24, and I didn’t like a lot of them that much. I was aSociology and Anthropology major, and I think there was one or two otherswho were majoring in that field but it was a lot of International Studies or ThirdWorld Development. A lot of very political people. They were reallyinterested in the politics. They really were pretty clueless about being inanother culture, or just any sort of cross-cultural understanding. I was reallysurprised. I mean, we certainly all got along, but I was very surprised at first. Iexpected to go there and be psyched to be with all these people and most of thetime Ijust wanted to get away from them. (Lisa, p. 1)111Nicole was surprised at the low level of international awareness of the students in hergroup.I expected people who were also interested in Africa, not just, there were someescapism for me, but that wasn’t all of me. That was probably the smallest partof my motivation for wanting to go. And I found that for a lot of people it wasprobably 90 to 100 percent of why they wanted to go. At least in my group.And I found that really disturbing. People weren’t really interestedacademically in learning about the country so much as just because it seemedcool. And I guess I was kind of turned off to the program, not only because Ifelt like the academic leadership there wasn’t very strong, but I also found thatfor a lot of people, not everybody, but for a lot of people it was an escape. Anescape from parents, sexuality, or boyfriends or girlfriends, all kinds ofdifferent reasons. College is too difficult....The other thing that I think amazedme when I got there was the fact that so many people had never seen povertybefore. They were completely overwhelmed by the fact that there were peopleliving in houses which were shacks basically. And I would try to saysomething like, ‘There are people who are in the United States that live like that,and these same conditions exist in the United States. These same disparities.It’s just that there’s more of a middle class so we don’t see it as much.’ Andpeople just wouldn’t believe me. And the whole issue of guilt, and how do Ideal with the fact that there is so much economic disparity, how do I deal withmy own privileged position within that, was something that a lot of people hadtrouble with. And I think every time you face this, there is something within aperson that, ‘How do I deal with this?’ And the questions do keep coming up.Hopefully. Hopefully we’re all caring enough about other people to see this.So in a lot of ways it’s very good. But I think it really surprised me that somany people had never dealt with these issues before. That college juniors orseniors never had to deal with these questions before really surprised me. Andhaving worked in a homeless shelter, having worked in an after school programwhich was for low-income families, I felt like I had dealt with those questionsbefore. And certainly you keep dealing with them over and over again. But atthe time, it was just really surprising to me. (Nicole, p. 4-5)Emily was initially disappointed by the eclectic interests and personalities of the otherstudents in her group. Like Lisa, she found the approach of some of the students to cross-cultural relations disturbing. However, she eventually reconciled these differences of opinionand made some good friends with the other students.What was disappointing to me a little bit though was that, I’m interested inworld politics. Pm interested in the social situation of the world. I’m not, asthey say, crunchy. [laugh] I mean that’s kind of a bad, I’m not trying to dis onthese people. They were good people. But I mean, a couple of them weregoing down there being like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to start our own political partyand help the Natives.’ And I’m like, ‘Listen, go down there and observe themand learn about them. Don’t go down there and try to change them and helpthem. They don’t want your help. They’re allowing you to come to theircountry and study. You don’t need to go down there and like...,’ I don’t know.I didn’t hit it off too well with my group initially. (Emily, p. 3-4)112Emily gave an example of the type of attitude that disturbed her, displayed by twowomen in the group. She disagreed with their approach towards cross-cultural interaction.They were very tight for awhile, and they were both really into like, ‘Yeahdude, let’s go save them (the Bolivians).’ [laugh] Which really annoyed me.Their intentions were probably good, but they were just so superior about it. Idon’t know how to explain it. You know, they walked around with their greasyhair and their unshaven legs and were like, We’re gonna be one with them.’And they had no idea, they weren’t even friends with Bolivians when they left.They were friends with each other. (p.4)We did not all get along with each other. I would dress up for classes everymorning. I would put on nylons and shoes, because that’s how I was toldwomen in Bolivia dress. And, as time wore on, I would just put on jeans orsomething. And the girls I was with would not dress for anything. Which wasa point of contention, because they’d say, ‘Why do you have to dress upeveryday?’ And I was like, ‘Well, they told us to dress up. They told us toshow respect for the culture. And respect for the culture was to dress nicely.’And it turned into a thing where the Bolivians were much more responsive topeople who dressed in a certain way. Which became really controversialbecause I made friends very quickly with Bolivians. And Bob and Ryan did aswell. But none of my other group mates did. None of them. Jill made a couplefriends. But by the end of the program, there were five Americans going outwith each other constantly, and four Americans going out with Boliviansconstantly....Another big thing was that, I think a huge thing was drinking. Thefive of them really didn’t like drinking, didn’t like going out drinking. And thefour of us, I’m not a lush, but I don’t mind drinking. And it’s not to go and getdrunk. It’s because it’s a real means of being social in this country. Becausethere’s movies, but like I was telling you before, there’s no concerts. There’s no,you can’t really do anything at night except go out to bars or discotheques.That’s your choice. Bars, movies, or discotheques. Or stay home and watch TVif you have one. Not everybody, you know, there’s not a whole lot to do.Drinking games are played constantly at every restaurant. No matter how nicethe restaurant is, they’ll give you dice and a score pad....And that’s what you do.And if you have an aversion to drinking, you’re just not going to experience theculture because America’s not a homogenous culture. It’s a lot of people from alot of different backgrounds and classes and cultures and races and everything.And Bolivia, it’s one homogenous group of people. And they all do the samething. (p. 6-7)Lisa, Nicole, and Emily are three examples of ways in which relationships within thestudent group caused students to clarify their own values and standards of cross-culturalinteraction. By critiquing reactions of other SIT students, participants were able to reflect ontheir own roles as cross-cultural sojourners. Again, this involved a commitment or recommitment to personal belief systems and meaning perspectives.113Academic DirectorsThe role of the teacher is a vital one in experiential learning, as was illustrated in theliterature review. This position is a complicated and demanding one. Participants expectedthe Academic Directors (A.D.’s) to fulfill five main functions: to handle program logistics andplanning, to be a knowledge resource, to provide an overall context of the academic andexperiential curriculum of the program, to offer emotional support for students, and to be a rolemodel of cross-cultural relations. Three students, Susan, Brian, and Jodie developedsignificant relationships with their Academic Directors. In each of these relationships, thedirector functioned as a friend and meaningful role model for the student.Jodie had two Academic Directors in charge of her program. One director, Tim, hadworked with SIT in Switzerland and Japan. Jodie mentioned him very little in the interview,and described him as unfamiliar with West Africa. However, the other director, Karen, left adeep impression on Jodie. Karen had worked in the Peace Corps in Togo, had lived in otherregions of Africa, and had been a director of the Cameroon program for the two previoussemesters. She became a role model for Jodie. Jodie described her as having a dynamic andimpressive way of interacting with people.Karen was really together. She was just awesome, super, she’s totallyincredible and a good leader. She worked well with Tim, like they kind ofcomplemented each other in this really bizarre way. She’s totally amazing. ryenever been more impressed by someone. Her attitude towards being there, herrelationship and position within the community. She had a lot of ties to theplace. She was very respectful of people and very open to getting to know themand kind of responsible about her presence there and very aware of what thatmeant and of following up. She was really into music. She liked music a lottoo, so she kind of helped get some of my stuff started. I remember we weregoing to tape vendors on the streets when we got to the capital on a field trip.And they would be like, ‘Oh, Madame Karen is back. KAREN, KAREN,’ andstuff. I was like, ‘How often do you come here?’ ‘Well I came here last time ona field trip.’ They totally knew her. They had deals where she would buy fourtapes and get three free. And they played her all their best music. I don’t know,there was this lady she used to buy plantains from. And like she’d just give herlike all this free stuffjust because she liked her. She was just that kind of aperson to elicit that response from people. And just really sensitive and kind ofnot afraid to take a position in terms of what it meant to be there. She had hershit together as far as the dynamics of being there and recognizing and dealingwith that I guess....I kind of got to know her pretty well. We kind of hit it offand so I might have spent more time, because I think a lot of the issues thatconcerned her concerned me. And so I spent a lot of time quizzing her because114I was really interested. At the time I was kind of considering, I mean I wascurious what she thought about a lot of the United States’ relationships withcountries in Africa and how it was to be living life based on, I don’t know, justthe questions that you ask like, ‘Will I come back here? What did you thinkabout the Peace Corps? What did you think about living in another country,and the ex-pat lifestyle?’ and stuff like that. Which she didn’t really lead. Sowe had a lot of really good talks about that so I kind of got more of her point ofview than maybe she put out there in the group setting. (Jodie, p. 10-11)The presence of such a competent role model from her own culture gave Jodie anotherarena in which to develop an intricate conceptualization of cross-cultural relations and culturalsensitivity. By observing Karen, Jodie could analyze her own cross-cultural interactionscomparatively.Brian’s relationship with his Academic Director, Jean, provided him with anotherpowerful role model in addition to Tsampa.[Tihey are, next to my parents, they are my ideal role models right now in termsof basically how to embrace life and how to get the most out of life, how to seepeople, how to be compassionate, how to see that there’s more to life thanmaking a lot of money and all of that, and getting myself off of the rat race. Tmvery convinced that Tm not going to spend my entire career as a doctor in theStates. Tm planning on doing stuff in the Third World a lot, especially in Nepaland with the Tibetans. (Brian, p. 26)He [Jean] has taught me so much because he is a western person who has goneto Nepal, embraced Buddhism, is incredibly Buddhist in every possible way,and he stayed there. And he’s a person like myself who was brought up in awestern sense. He gave that all up and stayed there. I don’t plan on doing that.There are times that I didn’t want to come back to the States but then realizingthat I grew up in this incredibly lucky situation and that because of myeducation, because of my parents having money or whatever, I was able to go toColumbia and I was able to get in here [Yale Medical School] and that I’mincredibly lucky to be able to become a western doctor and having trained atthis place. And for me to give that up just because I want to live a simple life inKathmandu or wherever is really foolish when I think about it now. When Iwas there it was just like I was so content and happy with things and notworried about images, not worried about the social constraints that you havehere, or at least the perceived western social constraints. I mean not that therearen’t social constraints when you’re there, of their own. For a while, I was justgoing to stay and hang out. But then wanting to come back to the States tofinish my education, to become trained as a doctor here, knowing that I couldgo back to the States and finish my education and then have a much greaterability to come back to Nepal and back to Tibet and then use the knowledgethat I’ve learned to really help in a different capacity that I otherwise wouldn’table to. And realizing how lucky and how special my childhood and myupbringing and opportunities I was given. Or just traveling around andrealizing what an American passport can do for you. I mean it’s quiteincredible. You don’t realize that until you leave the States. (p. 28)115So Jean has a perspective that I can associate with and talking to him about notbeing caught up in the normal track, that danger of going to college, going tomedical school, paying back your loans, being on what people consider normalhere. When I tell people that I want to go the Third World to practice medicine,they scratch their heads and wonder why. And wanting to do things that Ibelieve in and not being afraid to do them just because it’s not normal by whatmy friends and what my parents would consider. Jean went to graduate schooland he got his degree, had a great teaching job in a university. He was there fora year and decided it wasn’t for him. Sold everything and hitchhiked toKathmandu. That’s the way he shocked his family. He knew from that yearthat sort of getting on a treadmill and realizing that he could be on that treadmillfor the next 60 years was not the kind of thing that he wants to do and he wasable to realize that early enough and able to admit to himself that he wantedsomething different out of these years. And having the energy and themotivation to tell his parents that he was quitting his job and that he wasleaving. Not so much that he’s irresponsible but because there are other thingsthat he’s passionate for. So his perspective is really valuable to me. (p. 28-29)Susan’s group had two Academic Directors. One of the directors was a positive rolemodel for Susan with whom she became good friends. The other director, whileknowledgeable in Wildlife Ecology, was not responsive to the students from Susan’sperspective.Two completely different personalities. Completely different. One of them,‘Jill,’ she was the original, I think she might have been the originaldirector....But she was there, and established a lot of contacts and what not.And had her way of living in East Africa and being right in East Africa, which Ididn’t really agree with. Her and the other director, ‘Debbie,’ got a housetogether, which was in the town we were based in for a lot of the time and wastheir place to stay when we were off on ISP. And they both lived together,which Debbie wouldn’t have done again. I was a lot closer with Debbie. Jill isa vet, and she practices while the program is not going on, and she’s veryscientifically based. Everything is very structured for her. And so she kind oflooks at things that way, and doesn’t look at things from a cultural,anthropology, people perspective. It tends more to be numbers, scientific, verycold, is the way she kind of related to a lot of people. Or that’s the way Iinterpreted it. And so she and I didn’t really talk much....Also she felt verycomfortable having a maid in the house and doing her laundry, and stuff likethat. And we spent a lot of time in the house when we were in Arusha. So wespent a lot of time there. And she wanted guards at the house. To me thingsthat weren’t really necessary, but she felt that she could easily afford them dueto the difference in economics, some stuff like that....And, to me, it’s like, youcan clean your own floor and you don’t need to hire a maid. And it went furtherthan that, obviously. If she was comfortable doing it in her household, then shewas comfortable doing it other places. Like, when we were on trips and we hadpeople that were driving and stuff like that, she had a dominant way of dealingwith them, which I was very uncomfortable with. And Debbie wasn’t like thatat all. Debbie was very culturally sensitive. She was in the Peace Corps. Idon’t know if that makes a difference. But she definitely was very aware ofracial issues and what not. Not to say that Jill was racist. But I don’t know.Debbie was more down to earth for me to talk to. More interested in more116things, I wasn’t interested in hanging around talking about feces of an elephant.Jifi tended to be really interested in scientific, biology and that stuff....I think fora lot of people in the group, Debbie was the one who was more approachable.Easier to talk to....Debbie was the one we wrote the observation journal for. Soshe was the one who brought in the cultural aspect of the program, which iswhat I was just as interested in. Not just focusing on strict wildlife ecology andconservation. Bringing in more of the issues of people and what happens to thepeople when a national park is created or what not. (Susan, p.7)The most important element in these three relationships is the fact that the A.D.’s werepowerful role models for the students. Through observation, students recognized admirableapproaches to cross-cultural situations on the part of their A.D.’s, and endeavored to emulatethem. These relationships helped students to form a third cultural perspective, and to learnskills in communication and cross-cultural interaction. However, aside from these successstories, only two other participants, Lisa and Chris, liked their directors and were pleased withtheir performance. The remaining seven were disappointed in the low levels of competence orthe leadership styles of their Academic Directors. This is a disturbing ratio and it demonstratesthat the position of Academic Director is a very demanding job. Angela was dissatisfied withthe Academic Directors of the program because they failed to communicate with one another.There was a woman who was in name the director and then a guy who was herassistant director, but she had, really her main credential was that she wasmarried to a Balinese man. Whereas the guy was only a few years older thanmost of us. And he had done the SIT in Bali program, and had spent a lot oftime in Indonesia. And spoke Indonesian fluently. And he was much moreacclimated and assimilated and much more helpful. There were so manyconflicts between the two of them. They didn’t even like each other. Theydidn’t talk to each other. They would stand up in front of the class and be like,‘Well, this is what we’re going to do next week.’ ‘No, I don’t think so.’ They’dhad no preparation outside of the classroom. It was really frustrating in thatrespect....She was in her mid to late thirties. Her name’s Jackie. And the guywas David, and he just graduated from college. He was 23 or so. So it was nota good match at all. He was nominally the assistant director. So we sort ofviewed then as co-directors, because Jackie was pretty helpless in terms of evengetting to class. Although, she was good in that she was very, sort of,experiential-oriented. And she would be like, ‘Now I’m not going to tell youguys what to do. If you want to do this, or you want to do that, then it’s yourresponsibility to go do it.’ But it helped too. So I don’t look back on her fondlyat all. David was helpful in that he was very knowledgeable about the cultureand he helped everyone set up their ISP’s, basically. So that was good.(Angela, p. 2-3)Megan’s Academic Director did not fulfill her needs for a mentor or a role model.117[S]he had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador eleven years earlier and shenever left. And she was a single woman with an adopted Ecuadorian baby, likefive months old....Very cold, not very warm. So she did the orientation, I justnever like, you know I didn’t feel that great. She was just, right off the bat, notvery warm. Not that she was like a camp counselor or had to be hugging usand stuff. She totally lacked enthusiasm. She’s very straightforward. Like thefirst day, you would think she would introduce herself and, she was very, shedidn’t smile a lot. I can picture her face right now, it was like, she seemed bitteralmost. (Megan, p. 10)Emily was also dissatisfied with the emotional support given by the AcademicDirector, in spite of her ample professional qualifications and knowledge.It was kind of shocking. She was like, ‘Hi, I’m Diana,’ she was really brusque.I mean, one thing that I will say about Diana, is she was very competent. Sheknew people, she knew the language, she knew how to set up appointments forus, and how to get us from one place to another. But she was extremely distant,and not very warm, and almost never approachable. With a problem oranything. Like when she talked to us about sex one time, she said, ‘There arecondoms in the back room. If you want one, take one.’ I mean that was it. SoDiana wasn’t what I needed. I needed somebody who was a lot warmer. I wasnot sure of where I wanted to be. I had to do this for a requirement, and I toldher that the second day. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be here right now. I want tobe at Kenyon. I was at Kenyon [college] a couple days ago, I was happy there.I don’t want to be here.’ She was like, ‘Well, we’ll have to change that attitude,won’t we? Ha ha.’ And I was like, ‘Ha ha, yeah.’ (Emily, p. 5-6)And when I went to her with problems that were really bothering me, personalstuff. Like I went to her once and I said, ‘Diana, I’m just really feeling lonelyhere. It’s not because I don’t have people around me. I do. I don’t know what itis.’ And she’s like, ‘Well, can’t help you if you don’t know what the problem is.’And I mean, that is not the right attitude. She’s supposed to help me EXPLOREthe problem. But then again, she knew everyone there was to know in Bolivia,it seems like. Anyone of political, social, economic, any category, significance,and she knew them. And she was on a first name basis and they liked her. Shewas a newspaper woman. She was tough and brassy. (p. 38-39)Greg was disappointed in the academic leadership of his director.I really didn’t have too much respect for our program director. I didn’t reallyrespect her intellect because to me, she was more of a office manager type ofperson. She was there to make sure we had the right people come in to talk tous. She was there to make sure we got to where we needed to get to. She wasthere to make sure our homestay families were okay. She was there to makesure there were no problems with us. She was there to make sure we got to theGalapagos and she was there to pay people and stuff. But as far as I wasconcerned, I guess she had some credentials, but she never said anything thatreally impressed me. And she had been in Ecuador for awhile. She had beenthere for two or three years. And I expected her to have a little more insightinto some problems. She really didn’t. (Greg, p. 13)118Nicole was particularly critical of the Academic Directors, as well as the structure ofthe program in general. She did not feel that they fulfilled their roles as group leaders.I always wondered why it took two people to run the program. And I was alsosomewhat taken back by, I felt like if there were two people, one should beZimbabwean. And I understand that, we had more discussions about this too,and ‘Richard’ informed me that one of the reasons why they had Americandirectors was that a lot of people come over and they have culture shock andthey have home sickness, and it’s really important to have an American director.And I agree with that. But I also think that it would have been nice to also havea Zimbabwean director because the way the classes were organized and the wayour activities were organized was very American. They were transplanting anAmerican college into a Zimbabwean setting. And I think that just having thatdifferent cultural perspective on how to organize life and how to organizeclasses, and also in terms of what information you’re giving the students andwhat texts are available and what resources are available. I think that wouldhave been a very good thing. And they would always tell me, I had thesequestions of why they needed two directors, and they would say, ‘Oh, it takesforever to do anything here, tracking down and doing phone calls.’ And itseemed to me that it was a lot of clerical work that they could hire someone inZimbabwe to do. ...But I don’t know. I also understand that it’s tough for asingle person from the United States to move over there without a spouse. Andtheir background is Peace Corps, which I guess kind of surprised me because Ijust can’t imagine them working, doing training sessions for Peace Corpsvolunteers And nobody really had a lot of respect for them, which was sad.They may have had the international experience background, but I don’t feellike they had, a, the academic background, and b, I don’t think they wereparticularly culturally sensitive. Just some of the comments that would comeout of their mouths really surprised me. I don’t remember exactly, but some ofRichard’s ways he would go up and introduce himself to people. It was verykind of ME oriented, and he’d start a conversation in Shona to show them heknew a little bit, and then he’d kind of laugh about it, then of course start talkingin English. And he never really tried to learn anything in Shona beyond acouple of phrases. And he had been there at that point for two years. And theShona teachers were calling him on it. And acted very self-important at timestowards some people, like when we were on the study tour or whatever. Verydemanding, American demanding. And I don’t think that went over well,watching the looks on people’s faces. (Nicole, p. 9-10)The dissatisfaction expressed concerning the performance of the Academic Directorsdemonstrates the importance of the position in terms of offering emotional and academicsupport for the students. It also illustrates how demanding the role of an experiential educatorcan be, and how difficult it is to fulfill all the expectations expressed by students, the mostimportant of which is to function as a role model in cross-cultural relations.119ConclusionThis discussion of student relationships in cultural immersion is vital to theunderstanding of experiential, cross-cultural learning. Once students are emotionally engagedin cross-cultural relationships, they became engaged in cross-cultural encounters throughwhich their meaning perspectives are confronted and challenged. The more engaged a studentis in a relationship, the more the student has personally invested in an experience, and the morethat student is open to change. Relationships with people from the home culture providesupport and feedback for students, and also provide opportunities for the observation ofdifferent styles of cross-cultural interaction. Romantically involved relationships, whetherwith people of the home or host culture, help to shift a student’s center of the universe awayfrom home and into the setting of cultural immersion.The development of important relationships during the program is a condition whichled to perspective transformation in some cases. In general, the closer the bond, the moreinfluential the relationship was in relation to the personal development of the participants.Like the chapter on participant backgrounds, this chapter frames the experiences of theparticipants in order to discuss transformative, experiential learning. Mezirow fails toemphasize the importance of relationships in transformative learning, and therefore it isdifficult to apply his theory to this discussion. It can be seen from a case such as Brian, forinstance, that through developing respect, admiration, and caring for another person, astudent’s values and understanding of the world can be touched and recreated. The followingtwo chapters explore how students’ meaning schemes and perspectives were challenged andtransformed.120Chapter Six: Critical Incidents and CrisisIntroductionThis chapter is a discussion of the psychological intensity of crisis and other incidentsof cross-cultural interaction, and the critical reflection inspired by them. It demonstrates theway in which the participants’ cultural values were challenged and confronted by theseexperiences, leading them to question these values and meaning perspectives. A number ofparticipants discussed incidents and crises which caused them to reflect critically on their ownsociocultural reality. Examples of this can be seen in students’ reflections on gender relations,race relations, and international relations. Other crises, such as culture shock, caused studentsto reflect on their psychological meaning perspectives. Finally, re-entry or the re-integrationof students into their home culture forced some to reconcile their new cultural perspective withthe old, or to establish a third cultural perspective. It is through cultural marginality thatstudents enter into a state of crisis and then critical reflexivity. This can been seen in examplesof student cross-cultural interactions. As Paige (1993) asserts, perceived racism, sexism, orother prejudice in the host culture, being physically different from members of the host cultureand feeling highly visible, or feeling a loss of control over cross-cultural situations can alltrigger a psychological intensity in students which can lead to transformation. The followingchapter illustrates this process.Gender RelationsFrom the data collected, it appears that the experience of being an American woman inanother culture was disconcerting for many of the female participants. Every student Iinterviewed expressed concern about the sexual harassment faced by western women in nonindustrialized countries. This seemed to be a widespread phenomenon attributed to the mediarepresentation of western women as sexually promiscuous, especially women of European-American descent.One student in particular brought the issue of harassment to the forefront. Danielleconducted her own research in this area after experiencing severe sexual harassment and121assault during her stay in Morocco. She interviewed a number of other female American studyabroad students, and found that many of them had trouble recovering from the sexualharassment they experienced in their host cultures. She discussed from an anthropologicalperspective how the way in which a person is perceived, for instance as a tourist, a slut, or animmoral person, shapes the interactions that person has with people of a host culture. One ofthe most important parts of the SIT experience is getting past these perceptions, on both sides,and developing concrete relationships to dispel stereotypes. However, this can be anintimidating goal when one is confronted with stereotypes that promote violence againstwomen and threaten one’s personal safety and sense of well-being. Danielle described herexperiences of sexual harassment and assault:The harassment, it was pretty constant for days on end. Whenever I was in apublic place. I got molested a number of times. Like I went to this elevator inthis building once, and this guy followed me in. I swear this elevator was onlylike two feet by three feet if even. It was an old building, it went up to the fifthfloor. And he started putting his hands on my breasts and all this stuff. And Iwas like, I really can’t do anything about this because we’re in a really smallplace. He was taller than I was, and I think he was really drunk. So I just waslike, he started jacking off, and I was like, ‘I have to get off.” Fortunately wereached the floor, and when I got off I shoved him as hard as I could and hithim with my elbows, and I just left. And that was pretty heinous. And a coupletimes when I was in a crowd, people would start feeling me up. Because thecrowds are so tight. And I was followed and yelled at and talked to. It waspretty bad. (Danielle, p. 18)Men followed me, jeering at me, yelling compliments interspersed with insults,people stepped in my way, attempting to get my attention. ‘Hey baby! Gotsome nice American tits!’ ‘Comment-ca-va?’ ‘Tu veux te coucher avec moi?’‘Je te monterai le vrai Maroc!’ ‘Come to my house and have some cous-couswith me!’ ‘La gazelle!’ ‘Hey you are so strong! Are you so strong in bed?’ ‘Doyou like to fuck?’ ‘Hey, fuck you Americans- you think you are so great’(clicking sounds) I was terrified. I gripped my companions’ arms and keptwalking. (paper on harassment and study abroad, p. 1)I think this is really weird, but I started wearing a Walkman all the time.Because I would go home from class to my family. I slipped it on on the bus allthe time. [laugh] I loved riding the bus because it gave me so much downtime. So I started wearing a Wallcman incessantly. And I was like, ‘Forget it. Ihate this.’ It helped me ignore them. I sort of understand people who walkaround campus here wearing Wallcmans now a little better. But this wasn’t myculture. I can’t deal with this. (p. 18)Although it is important for students to encounter crisis in the experiential, crosscultural learning process for the sake of making meaning and perspective transformation,122physical and psychological violation such as this can result in psychological damage andscarring. Danielle reacted to the harassment by wearing a Walkman in public to help herignore her aggressors, but her feelings of violation were harder to ignore. No student shouldbe subjected to such an assault, and this is not an intention of experiential, cross-culturallearning. This might be categorized as an unstructured, unintended, and unacceptableexperience. However, as Danielle herself mentioned, she managed to turn the harassment andassault into a positive personal growth experience by working through her feelings of violationafter returning home.Each of the men in this study described incidences where their female peersexperienced harassment, and they functioned as male “protectors” or “harassmentdiscouragers” by accompanying women in areas where they experienced harassment. Inaddition to Danielle, Susan, Lisa, Jodie and Megan all expressed frustration and feelings ofintimidation and sometimes danger. Megan described the constant threat of harassment andways in which she tried to avoid it.I completely understand when you need cultural understanding, and when youlive in another culture you have to understand. You have to adhere to whattheir culture is. But at the same time, you are from another culture and in a waythey have to respect you too. I think there’s a mutual respect that needs tohappen....The fact that you’re in Ecuador, I guess it’s more your responsibilityto. The women there [in Ecuador] suffer from machismo in different ways, butit wasn’t street crap. You can’t even imagine what it was like....I would like tryto explain it to people and I get so emotional about it. You can’t evenunderstand. It was like, I would walk down the street, and I would zigzag....Because it’s so warm out, all the men are standing out in front of theirstores. Everyone’s standing outside. You can kind of picture this stereotypical,sleazing around outside the front of their stores. I’d be walking down the street,and there’d be three men standing together, and there’s no way I was gonnawalk by them. So N cross the street. I’d walk a few feet, there’d be more men,Pd cross back. Zig zaging down the street....My director wore a wedding bandand she was single. And she was white, also, even though she kind of seemedEcuadorian because she’d been living there for so long. Walking with a man, itmade all the difference, all the difference. I remember walking with my friendJake, but still you’d walk by and people would go, ‘Oooooo,’ you know, likestaring at you, ‘Like, ooooo baby. Baby I love you. Hello baby how are you?’The only words they knew in English. (Megan, p. 15-17)Like Danielle, Megan felt torn between adhering to the cultural values and beliefs ofthe host culture and remaining strong in her own ideals. She came to recognize, as did123Danielle, that what she was experiencing was not characteristic of Ecuadorian gender relationsand culture, but rather an factor of cross-cultural gender relations between Ecuadorian men andAmerican women. Megan reacted to the harassment, as did Danielle, by avoiding potentiallyproblematic situations altogether.In addition to these women who experienced sexual harassment, Nicole and Angelaboth sensed that certain situations were dangerous for women and should be avoided. Emily,while very frustrated at the loss of her personal freedom, enjoyed the male attention shereceived within the host culture. She did not describe this attention as harassment but rathersaid it made her feel like a princess. It is difficult to determine whether this was because shehad a different attitude towards the behavior, or whether she experienced a different form ofattention than the other students did.Besides the problem of harassment, Danielle found that her values of feminism werecontradicted by the attitudes of some Moroccan men towards American women. This wasdemonstrated in her description of her relationship with her host brother, where she felt shehad to compromise her feminist ideals for the sake of cultural immersion. She also describedresentment towards him wanting to do things “to” her, and feeling like an inactive participantin sexual relations. When Danielle returned to school after the program, she experiencedsevere reverse culture shock. She felt angry, insecure, and depressed. This was largely aresult of the violation she endured in Morocco from sexual harassment and assault on thestreet, and sexism within her relationship with her homestay brother. As a part of herreadjustment and healing process, Danielle changed her major from religion to anthropology,and wrote a paper on her own and other women’s experiences of harassment abroad.I came back from being abroad, and I was really screwed up last semester. Ihad a really hard time....So one thing that really helped me was, I started tailcingto some other friends who also went abroad. And we started to realize that wehad a lot of very similar experiences dealing with harassment...This is the actualpaper I wrote last semester, from which my thesis came. I wrote this paperabout the harassment for a class, for a woman who’s actually now my thesisadvisor. Sort of trying to understand what was going on. And it was reallyamazing to talk to these women because they’ve been all over the world. Theyhad similar feelings of isolation, depression when they came back. Depression,feeling violated. I’m a rape crisis counselor for the hotline, so I know a lot124about sexual violence. The symptoms were more or less those that you wouldattribute to somebody who was a survivor of sexual violence of some kind. Sothis paper I wrote, basically I just wrote about harassment experiences andanalyzing them and discussing how it was at once being white and rich thatmade you the oppressor, but you were also kind of the oppressed, because theycould still flick you back. They were still able to get a handle over us becausewe’re women. So that was about as far as I got on that paper. And then Iproposed in the conclusion the idea of an anthropology of encounters, which isbasically, how I’ve developed it and as it stands now, is the idea that the oldanthropological model of understanding cultures, which is basically that you goand immerse yourself in a really foreign culture, and the idea of difference isdifferent too. Like you go and preferably they’re very far away geographically,they don’t speak the same language, they have different colored skin. They’remore primitive or whatever. Then you go immerse yourself in that culture,write some obscure book on some obscure topic, and come back. I think thatthere’s a lot of relevance. rm sort of being facetious. That model works, butthere’s also a new space. That’s what I’m arguing in my thesis. There’s a newspace developing which is basically one [an anthropology] of encounters, cross-cultural encounters that are very significant for the majority of people. I don’tthink cross-cultural encounters have ever been the way anthropology would liketo imagine them. I think that just now, it’s becoming more and more obviousthat difference is changing, and not, what is the other. The values are changing.So there are more and more spaces where people are having cross-culturalencounters that aren’t being dubbed. But they are very significant in terms ofshaping what we think of other cultures. For example, traveling, tourism. Somy thesis deals with the idea that there is a place, and I’m arguing that itactually is a place. It’s a mistake to assume that it’s like a line, a margin.Because it’s actually a place. It has it’s own little subculture. It has it’s ownrules and regulations. And when you enter that place, you can’t say rm anAmerican and this is a Moroccan...And if you simplify the harassment to say‘Oh, this is about tourist meets unemployed man.’ Or ‘Rich American womanmeets viral, Arab man,’ to use stereotypes. That doesn’t cut it because therereally is a dearth of vocabulary. It’s like this no man’s land of experience andvocabulary. I don’t know how to say it. It was really significant that thesewomen that I interviewed didn’t understand what was happening. Or theyunderstood it, but they couldn’t say, ‘This is sexual harassment here.’ Thiswould be sexual harassment in the United States. So what the hell is it here?So there’s the idea that you don’t have the vocabulary. You don’t have a ready,available, cultural type of thing. And you shouldn’t. In one way, I think it’svery democratic because you’re both there, stripped of your own vocabularies.So you can’t say ‘This is sexual harassment.’ Just because it doesn’t exist.(Danielle, p. 1-3)The crisis Danielle faced within the “space” of these cross-cultural interactions led herto develop a third cultural perspective. As mentioned earlier, she was able to take a number ofdevastating encounters and turn them into a valuable learning experience through criticalreflection as a form of healing. She felt powerless in many situations in Morocco involvingher sexuality, and she regained some power over those situations through critical reflection. Inattempting to make sense of these encounters, she connected her personal experiences to a125conceptualization of the larger field of anthropology, and this resulted in perspectivetransformation. The sexual harassment and assault Danielle endured highlights the femalestudent’s experience and conflicts students face between feminism, culture, and racism.Another way in which Danielle asserted power over these situations was to engage in feministencounters, which were an important part of her Independent Study Project. She described oneMoroccan woman she met while conducting her research.I went back to the place where I was staying and I got there, and there was anext door neighbor of my friend, and her sister were there. And they weremaking this huge cous-cous dish for dinner, because it was Friday. So we allsat down and ate and it was really fun. And I started talldng to the sisterbecause the other two were tailcing. Turned out she was the first feminist that Imet, the first independently feminist who hadn’t been educated a lot and whothought deeply and intensely about these issues.. ..She was just totally a smartwoman. She made a point of smoking hashish all the time, and slept with asmany men as she could. She just had so many great ideas. She was really inagony about the choices that she had to make. Between her identity as awoman and as an Arab, and if she wanted to leave. Her family was reallyimportant to her, but she knew that she couldn’t be the woman that she wantedto be and the person she wanted to be in Morocco....Feminism to me meansseeking out ways that you can define yourself in your own terms, whether that’seconomic or whatever. And she was definitely doing that. I think she was thefirst woman I met who really questioned things that actually by then I hadbecome sort of blind to. One of her friends was a gay man, and she took me tohis apartment. And she showed me all these things I never thought existed inMorocco. (Danielle, p. 14-15)In her written ISP, Danielle described her exploration of feminism over the course ofthe month.I am a feminist who believes strongly in social change. The further I havegotten, mentally and physically, from the protective and challenging walls offeminist academia, the more I have felt obliged to consider feminism andfeminist world view and action as a reconciliation between academic dreams(such as gender-neutral language) and everyday realities (such as literacy.)When I left Williams, I was a strongly Academic Feminist, with an interest inwoman-centered experience, a champion of the value (even absoluteness) ofsubjectivity, a belief that given a few determined women, everything waspossible. Now, after 3 1/2 [çJ months in Morocco, I am more of an AdjustedFeminist, whose major concerns are dealing with the annoyance of harassmentand understanding a culture as patriarchal as Morocco’s. (ISP, p. 1)Danielle describes how the crisis of cross-cultural gender relations in Morocco causedher to confront and alter her conceptualization of feminism. Although this discussion does notmean to imply that this form of crisis from violation is at all desirable in learning process, it is126noteworthy how the crisis led to perspective transformation. Other women also found itdifficult to be an American woman in their host cultures. For instance, Lisa was unable toreconcile her feminist ideals with the Muslim religion. Also, as was discussed earlier, Emilywas frustrated by the restrictions placed on her personal freedom by her homestaygrandparents and other Bolivians. The homestay was not the only place Emily found herfreedom restricted. This was a problem throughout her stay in Bolivia. Emily was constantlyfinding her freedom restricted because of her gender. In the middle of the program she wrotethis essay in her observation journal, entitled, “Machismo”. [Note: Once again, this paper iswritten in the Description, Interpretation, Evaluation format.]Description: Yesterday I wanted to go to a movie by myself, so I went to PlazaCentral to check out the billboards of what was playing and at what time theywere playing. While I was reading the billboards, a male acquaintance of mine,Carlos, from UMSS approached me to say hello, and ask me what I was doing.I explained that I wanted some time by myself and was going to the movies inan hour and a half. He asked me to have a coke with him while I waited, and Iresisted, but he insisted, so we walked to a cafe. On the way he ordered me towalk slower. When we got there, he ordered a bottle of soda. without asking mewhat kind I wanted. After a glass, I wanted to excuse myself and leave, but as Idid, he filled my glass again, disregarding what I was saying and told me tofinish my drink. So I finished my drink and tried to give him 2 B’s (my share)which he quickly declined accepting on the excuse that he was a man. He theninvited himself to ‘accompany’ me to the movies, because he said, a girlshouldn’t go to the movies by herselL I then told him that I had forgotten that Ihave to go to mass, which was a lie, and hailed a taxi and went home.Interpretation: So I’m not allowed to pay my share of a refreshment shared witha male acquaintance, he has the right to tell me how to pace my walking, he canoverride any decision I try to make, and he can invite himself to spend timewith me on the excuse that women shouldn’t spend time on their own. Whatexactly are my rights? My rights are to a free glass of coke with a guy who Idon’t want to spend time with ordering me around and inviting himself to themovies with me.Evaluation: Rage. Fury. I am most definitely not a Bolivian woman. No onehas the right to tell me how fast I can walk, and if I want to spend time in theircompany, I’ll say yes when they invite me to a drink, and I’ll invite them to goto the movies with me. This machismo bullshit that gives him the right to treatme like a 5-yr. old [jc.] is complete bullshit and the source of most of myfrustration in this culture. It drives me NUTS!!She reflected on the affect of these standards on her understanding of gender relationsin her home country:127My relationship with my host family was interesting. It defmitely made mesure that if I ever live in a South American country I want to have the means tosupport myself and give myself my own freedom. Several of the relationships Ihad with guys in South America were very indicative of the male I femalerelationship in the country. Which makes me very thankful that I’m anAmerican. I think that there are traces of that in every culture, of the maledomination of women and I mean, in this country women like to be, ‘Oh we areso free. We are so liberated.’ And yeah, to some extent we are. And I feel asthough I am liberated as an American woman. But comparatively, if this is themost liberated country, it’s not really that liberated. I mean, if we were reallyequal, then men wouldn’t hold the door open. Then, you know, there’s so much.I mean, it made me grateful that I live in a culture where it’s not as blatant. Butit did open my eyes to how much sexism there is in this country. Because a lotof what I saw there is just toned down here. It’s the same thing. It’s just not asblatant. (Emily, p. 28-29)I said to Diana ‘If I was a guy, would they have these restrictions on me?’ Shesaid ‘Not a chance.’ And it’s true because Ryan, my good friend, I said ‘Ryan,what time do you have to be in at night?’ He’s like ‘Oh there’s no restriction onit. I come in when I want to. I wake up when I want to, I do what I want to.’ Isaid ‘Yeah, but say you didn’t come home one night?’ He’s like ‘Emily, I’m amale in this culture.’ I couldn’t do that. And in the United States, if I called myparents and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m staying over at whoever’s house tonight.’ If Iwas like ‘Oh I’m staying over at this guy’s house just by myself,’ it would belike, ‘Oh, you are?’ But I mean, if I was like ‘Me and this girlfriend and thisguy and this other girl and this guy, we’re all going to stay over at this guy’shouse,’ they’d be like ‘Oh, have fun. Come home tomorrow morning. Don’t doanything dumb.’ I just couldn’t stand it here. I haven’t had a curfew since I wasseventeen. (p. 30)By encountering blatant sexism in Bolivian society, Emily was able to reflect on howthe same problem exists in her own society in a different form. Problems such as these canshape and limit women’s cross-cultural experiences. They may discourage cultural immersion,and promote critical reflection at a very high cost, such as in the case of Danielle. Thesewomen have no outlet to counteract this type of aggression with which they are confronted. Inorder to make this type of educational experience a friendly one for women, these issues mustbe further investigated and arrangements should be made in programs to assist women indealing with these problems.One of the male participants also had some interesting observations of Nepalese genderrelations. Chris made many comments in his journal and in the interview concerning hisattraction to the beauty of Nepalese women and Asian women in general. This seems128characteristic of U.S. attitudes towards women of color, and Chris brought this culturalbaggage to his experience. He was disturbed by the gender relations in Nepalese culture.I must have fallen in love with every Nepalese woman I’ve ever met. fm kindof partial to Asian-Indian women to begin with and then I was in a country fullof them and there was like every shade in between....Nepalese women, they’rejust the sweetest. And the husbands treated them like crap. I don’t know if it’sjust part of the culture and a lot of them are arranged marriages or something.But these poor, wonderful women, beautiful and they’d have this like loserhusband who would treat them like crap. I was like ‘Listen guy, wake upbuddy.’ ...My homestay mother was miserable. Being a woman in Nepal is justnot fun. There is a growing women’s movement and we spent like a wholeweek in the thing on it. There’s these Nepalese women that are into women’srights and women’s medicine and stuff like that, which was great. And a lot ofthe girls did their ISP on it. But they have a long way to go yet. It’s just reallytoo bad....It got weird sometimes. She [my homestay mother] would come toall upset and crying. ‘It’s miserable!’ And she’d get whinny and stuff. I didn’tknow what to do. I mean, it wasn’t my place to say anything. While herhusband was a really nice guy, he just treats her traditionally how Nepali mentreat women. It’s just not nice. I felt bad. It was a tough situation. And thewomen put up with these guys who’re just idiots....It seems to me like it’s justsort of a mind set of a poor culture. You see the same thing in poorer culturesin America. When times are tough and when things aren’t going well, the menthat are traditionally superior, physically superior to women, tend to beat themor take advantage of them or control them or whatever just based on size. Andthey intimidate them and whatever because they can. I don’t know, but you findit’s like this a lot in the Third World. It’s something I don’t understand. (Chris,p. 29-30)Race RelationsIssues of race in cross-cultural interactions formed another area of crisis andpsychologically intense experience for students. In the neighborhood of her homestay inNairobi, Kenya, Lisa was often overwhelmed by the attention she would get as a “mzungu” orwhite person. She was used to having a lot of personal space and time alone in the UnitedStates, and this was a shock to her system.I was sort of the novelty item of the neighborhood. She [my homestay mother]would have this white girl that would come live at her house and I would gethome, oh, one day I was just in the worst mood and this was horrible, and I gotoff the matatu to come home and all the kids are running around and they’resaying, ‘Mzungu,’ which is white person and they’re saying, ‘Shayla’s mzungu.’Shayla was the daughter’s name. So it was, ‘Shayla’s mzungu, Shayla’smzungu.’ [laugh] I was just in the worst mood, it was like I had been there twoweeks and I was near tears and then I went in the house and ten kids came in. Iwas just trying to drink my tea and cookies. I was just sitting there and theywere all standing around just gawking. [laugh] I was ready to cry. You cannever escape it. It sounds like it would be fun for now, for a day or so, but thenthere’s just no escaping. (Lisa, p. 10)129Lisa experienced culture shock largely as a result of all the attention she received as aCaucasian woman. This caused her to reflect on race, racism, and labels. She also reflected onher place as an American in Kenya.It was constantly being looked and shouted at. Like the things that day with thekids all staring at me. And that was, that was the big thing. Always beinglooked at. Just always being an issue. Something that always bothered me wasalways trying to be hustled something on the street. You’re a block away fromwhere you live and every day it’s like, ‘Here buy this carved animal.’ It’s just sotiring and you’re like, ‘No, no, no,’ and of course you say ‘no’ and the guy getspissed at you and thinks you’re rude and that got really tiring. I just wanted tofeel like I belonged there. (p. 36)I think I went through culture shock late. Like everyone kept saying it wouldhappen like three days after you were there, and I think it was two or threeweeks after I was there. ‘Cuz I just loved it at first. I was absolutely in lovewith it, then I got sick of the kids staring at me. What I was reading about [inmy journal] was getting on a matatu. Like it was one of the matatu stops wherethere are ten matatus and they’re all trying to get you to get on theirs, eventhough you have no desire to go there. [laugh] And this one, they were like,‘Mzungu, mzungu!’ [laugh] and they started fighting over which matatu wasgoing to get the mzungu on it. And they were both going to the same place.They were both going to my homestay which is where I had to go. So I just goton one. And that was sort of permissible. I was like, ‘Okay, I understand that.’But then the guy trying to get everyone on his matatu started advertising. Icouldn’t understand it, but he was saying that he had a mzungu on his matatu,and then there was like a matatu pulling aside. It all just happened at the wrongtime. There was another matatu pulling, like we were sitting and it was sort ofpulling out and the window was down and a guy reached out of the window andwas like, ‘Oh mzungu!’ and blowing kisses at me. He really had nothing to dowith the guy advertising that I was on his matatu but it was just so much,‘Mzungu, mzungu!’ So what I was writing in my journal was like, ‘Wow.Sometimes I can realize how black people feel in America, but it’s really not thesame. I guess I can be glad that Pm only here for four months whereas a blackin America would have to deal with it their whole life. ‘But maybe it’s betterthis way because what some Kenyan’s would say and what our directors wouldpoint out, is that it’s not always derogatory. It’s just, they call each other thedifferent tribal names. It’s just how they recognize each other. They do it a lotby their looks....So in my journal I was talking about, ‘Well maybe this is betterthan American culture. At least it’s like recognizes that you’re a mzungu andyou’re a Kenyan. I guess that’s better than being privately, or silentlydiscriminated against, in like getting jobs or not.’...I think that changed just withthe situation and who was doing it. I was just trying to look at the positive sideof it too. I was trying to relate it, I remember sitting there trying to relate it toAmerican culture, thinking how it’s so much better in America but then I waslike ‘But it’s really not. It’s so hidden and silent.’...It made me realize how whenolder people or southern people say that they don’t mean anythingdiscriminatory when they say the word ‘nigger’, when they call a black person‘nigger.’ It’s just what they call them and it’s just what they’ve grown up callingthem. It made me totally understand that. Like not that I agree with it, and Idon’t know If I agree with it or not, I still don’t know. I guess I don’t. I know Idon’t agree with it, but it just made me understand it, how you could just grow130up and it’s just like a name. It’s just what you call them. And like I said Iwouldn’t agree with it but it made me understand it... .1 guess it’s sort of biasedwith me growing up in the north and you know, you’re always told ‘Never say‘nigger’ and never be prejudiced against someone who’s black.’ It’s hard for meto imagine someone being so obvious. I guess what we were saying aboutmzungu, being so obvious about someone being black and making it such anissue that they wouldn’t be prejudice against them. I understand it. I guess rmnot absolutely sure if I agree with it or not. I’m not so sure if I agree with that,if it’s a mean thing or not. rm not sure if they’re being racist in a mean way,like prejudice. I’m not sure whether or not, if someone says ‘nigger’ and betotally accepting of this black person as an equal human being. If they can dothat while saying ‘nigger’ or if there’s still inherently something discriminatoryabout them saying it. (p. 17-19)When Lisa was confronted constantly by her color and the rarity of a “mzungu” livingin a traditionally black suburb, it caused her to think about race and the social structure of herown society. She tried to distinguish between instances of racism versus those of simply racialidentification. However, in the interview she did not discuss any reflections on racialsegregation in Kenyan or American society, or how racism requires the identification of anindividual’s race. The experience of being highly visible in Kenyan society forced Lisa toconfront her own racial identity, but it is unclear whether she had an understanding of thelarger political and social picture from which to assess why her color was the center ofattention within her neighborhood.Brian also reflected critically on his relations with Tibetans and the impact of hisChinese heritage on those interactions. His SIT group had a study tour to Tibet. It issomewhat difficult for westerners to gain access to Tibet. Although the group eventuallyobtained travel visas, they had to be guided by a Chinese government escort. Brian wasperceived by Tibetans as a Chinese person, so his interactions with Tibetan people werecomplex.Jean is a Belgian fellow and very Caucasian as well as everybody else in thegroup, and then there is myself who’s Chinese and the bus driver who’s Chineseand the Chinese official and a tour guide. So the four of us were Chinese andso we all spoke Mandarin and so I could communicate with them very well.And then I could speak English whereas even the tour guide could not speakEnglish. I ended up being the liaison between the Chinese government peopleand the group. This tour guide barely could speak English. Absolutelyridiculous. So every time we saw these Tibetan people, they would come up tome and they would ask me what I was doing with these Americans. I was neverincluded as part of the Americans, I was always part of the Chinese contingent131in this group, and so never was I able to convince somebody that I was anAmerican and part of this group. I was always part of the Chinese governmentofficials that were coming around with these Americans....So that was one sideof it. And if I were with two of my American friends and we were just walkingin the streets, when they came to us they would see me as Chinese, they wouldinstantly start talking to me in Chinese. But then as soon as I started speakingChinese, then I was instantly, definitely Chinese and then all these walls cameup because then we couldn’t talk about the dialogue, we couldn’t talk aboutanything because I am part of the Chinese government and I would tell peopleand they would be arrested and what have you. And so I quickly learned topretend not to speak Mandarin and to speak only in the little bit of Tibetan that Iknew and to speak in English, not that they can speak English, but to speakEnglish with my friends just so that they saw me more as American. So whenyou speak Mandarin all these walls go up in terms of learning about theBuddhist culture and going into these monasteries. There were instances wherethe group, where Jean was speaking Tibetan, he’s fluent in Tibetan, he’sspealdng to these Tibetans and trying to get us to see certain parts of themonasteries that we would never be allowed to be a part of. And a lot of timesI became an issue because even though Jean could explain that I was anAmerican, they would allow Jean and some of the other students to go in butthey were very hesitant to let me go as well because they thought I might be aChinese spy or I might be part of the government, they might be reported forhaving shown this part of the Tibetan culture to westerners. Because they’revery aware of what the Chinese want and don’t want. And they’re ready to doanything against the Chinese government. But seeing me as Chinese, it put alot of interesting dynamics between the group and between myself and theTibetans and myself and other Chinese people.. ..There were times when Iwould politely bow out when I knew that it was a difficult situation. But itwasn’t ever a blatant situation where ‘You guys can come but he can’t,’ justbecause the Tibetans by their nature and being very cautious about what they’regetting themselves into. They would not blatantly say ‘Well he’s Chinese so hecan’t come in,’ because if I were a Chinese official then I would know thatthey’re, so I would suddenly have something to do and I would go off withsome other people and do things. At times it was incredibly frustrating and atother times I just knew that I had to do things according to the way things workthere. Speaking Mandarin allowed me to really break down a lot of walls, inthe other sense, because my communication could really be efficient with someof these people. There were countless people, both monks and lay people, whoafter I spoke to them long enough, they’d realize that I was truly not Chineseand not interested in suppressing them or what have you. And then lots ofdoors open up just because communication was very good. We wouldn’t haveto go through a translator, we wouldn’t have to wait for Jean to come aroundand speak to these people.. ..I was probably more fluent in Mandarin than mostof the Tibetans because the Tibetans can speak Mandarin because they’ve beendealing with the Chinese for so long. But in Eastern Tibet they prefer to speakTibetan because that was their native tongue. It was a really interestingdynamic that opened up. Doors were closed in some areas and wails were putup, but in other areas it really helped me out. It kept me on guard all the time.It was hard being part of this group because we always had all these jokes aboutthe Chinese. It’s just like we would see these Chinese military guys coming inwith their guns and whatever and feeling like they own the place and then theTibetans by their nature are huge. Like these big guys with big knives lookingdown at these little Chinese people and so it was like, along with my fellowAmericans, we could joke about it, we could really have a lot of hatred and a lot132anger for the Chinese. But on the other side I always knew that these peopleare Chinese and I have this tie with the Chinese because by blood I am aChinese. It was interesting. (Brian, p. 16-17)For Brian, dialogue was critical in establishing his identity with Tibetans; he lookedand spoke like the oppressors of the Tibetan people, and yet he genuinely wanted to learnabout their culture. He wanted to speak Mandarin in order to achieve a deeper level ofcommunication since most Tibetans did not speak English and Tibetan was difficult forwesterners to learn. Mandarin did afford Brian some opportunities for dialogue on a deeplevel. Ironically, his fluency in Mandarin also closed many doors for him. Thus, the intensityof these experiences was felt on a number of levels. On the one hand, Brian was physicallydifferent from the Tibetans and felt highly visible among them. On the other hand, he felt thathis identity as a supporter of Tibetan liberation from the Chinese government was invisible tothe Tibetans. It was critical in these situations for Brian to identify himself as a supporter ofthe Tibetan people. However, this was not always possible, and the cultural marginality thatBrian experienced as a result was extremely frustrating. Conflicts such as these caused Brianto experience an identity crisis as a Chinese-American. This personal crisis led him to travelextensively through Nepal, Tibet, and China after the program ended, in order to search for hisroots, identity, and family heritage. After the end of the program, Brian spent another monthworking in western Nepal with Tsarnpa, the docior he studied with during his ISP. Then hespent two months traveling in Tibet and China. Brian became fully immersed in the Chineseculture, and he lost all contact with his home culture in the U.S. This deep immersion causedBrian to reflect on his own cultural values, beliefs, and practices, and leading to atransformation of meaning perspectives on a number of different levels. Brian described howthe program led him to his decision to travel, and how through his travels he was able toresolve conflicts about his identity as a Chinese-American and discover his cultural heritage.Although this is a long story to quote within this chapter, I think it is important because itillustrates the potential power of experiential, cross-cultural learning.So the most important moments, in terms of cross cultural experiences, in termsof changes that I’ve had, was my first couple of weeks in Dharamsala and133northern India and then the transition between the program and my own study,or my own travels, because that was when I totally lost all connections withwestern this, western that. I was very much into doing whatever I wanted to doin an eastern type of perspective. (Brian, p. 6)I had no idea what I really wanted to do at the end of the program inMay, during the third week in May, and I had always thought that I would justgo climbing with two of the other guys and stay in Nepal for a little while andthen come back to the States and then work just because I always work duringthe summer for the next year. And then I was sitting around one day and Irealized that I had so much anger for the Chinese and then I realized that I wasChinese. I just felt somehow that I had to find some way to coincide these two.And that I could always say that, ‘Fine, this is the Chinese government andthat’s not the same as who I am.’ I mean, I personally have absolutely no tieswith the Chinese government. Even my family line was repressed by theChinese government.And so I needed to coincide this somehow. Granted in frvington, I wasthe only Chinese person in the school. My graduating class was under ahundred people and so there was no racial diversity at all. There was maybeone or two African students, African-American students. Just everyone wasvery, very Caucasian and upper-middle class and very well to do and veryhomogenous. And so I was always accepted as such. Being Chinese was neveran issue just because I was friends with all these people. Being in this type ofenvironment I didn’t have any racial problems and so I never considered myselfChinese. I never had any real interest to go to China. I understood Chinesebecause my parents spoke it at home and so I grew up speaking Chinese. I hadno problem with that. But I had no interest to go to China whatsoever. When Ifirst got to India I had no interest to go to China at all. And then somewherealong the line that changed and I decided that that was the thing that I had to do.And so I faxed home and I got whatever little information my parents knewabout where they’re from, or not what little information they knew, but whatlittle information they knew of what was still there. Who was still alive, wheretheir old house was, the names of the villages, the name of the villages in thelocal dialects because all things were renamed. Who I could hope to find, andmy grandmother had been in contact with some of the people in larger cities butthese weren’t the same people who lived in the vifiages. And so I got whateverinformation I could from them and then I headed out to China. On the one handto see the Chinese people in general and also to see if there’s any part of myheritage or my roots that I could find.[My parents] actually were very, very supportive. They never pushanything on me and they have very little interest in going back themselvesbecause so much has changed. After they saw my pictures of what their hometown looked like, they were more content with their memories of theirchildhood and of what they knew China to be....And for my mom, there is onething that she had to do or she had to make sure was done before she died. Herfather never left China. He hung around to try to hold things together and heended up dying before he had a chance to get out. Just like in terms of closingout all the family accounts and all the political stuff about things and he was theman in charge so he sent the family ahead and took care of everything. And soit was very meaningful for my mom because she wanted me to go to his graveand to pay respect for him because she had never done so herself. And none ofher kids had gone. And me being one of her male sons going to do this for herwas in her eyes sufficient.134And so that was very meaningful for my mom. On the one hand it wasincredibly difficult, it was like a treasure hunt almost. But I only had to findone person in the village and then all the doors opened up. I would go trekkingin and rd go knock on this door and this person had moved 15 years ago or thatperson had died. In my mom’s village it took me a week and a half before Ifinally found someone tangible. And it ended up being someone who’s veryunrelated to my family but who knew of my family and he knew of my mom’sfamily lines. And as soon as I found this person, boom, all the doors opened upbecause he knew everybody in the town. So then he brought me to who mymom calls her aunt, she’s not a blood aunt but she was an older woman whoessentially was like a nanny or was like an older sister or was like a mom to her.And then so I found her and then I found whatever relatives, blood relatives ofmine that were there and I found all these people who knew my family, or knewmy mom and her mom. And so once I found all these people, then all thesedoors opened up and I really got the chance to get into the Chinese culture, tolive in the family, to not get the tourist part of going to China, to actually be inthese families, living with them, eating their foods. And really getting aglimpse of how they live, which I’m sure is no different from how my parentslived from when they were there. So finding these people and really finding alot of beauty in their people and how they lived and their morals, I really feltthat a lot of these people were really, really incredible.My grandmother on my dad’s side had been in contact with some peoplein her hometown. And so when I went back there it was much more easy forme to find people because I knew of an address of somebody who my dad wassupposed to write to but he never did so he had no idea who I was. As soon ashe saw me he recognized me because when I went into his house, this is like alittle village on the other side of the world, very little resemblance to anythingthat I’ve ever been familiar with, and I walked into his house and there’s this bigshelf, it’s like a shelf that their incense and stuff on top and little thing ofBuddha and a lot of family relics type of thing. And then inside the shelf therewas a picture of MY family, a picture of ME when I was three years old in frontof my house in Irvington. And here I am halfway across the world, I walk intohis house, I was like [laugh] my jaw like dislocated, hit the ground and it wasreally touching to see that. My dad’s the oldest son on his line so he would havebeen in line with everything. And so he’s supposed to be an important person.And so it was incredible to see that my family had still been incorporated intothe Chinese heritage. Here was myself and my family here, a picture of us, andthen there were statues of my grandfather and my great-grandfather anddifferent people and portraits and stuff throughout this whole area. This guywas one of the only people who managed to keep a lot of the family artifactstype of thing. He was my dad’s kind of half-brother. I don’t think there wasactually blood relation, but he was a guy who was incorporated into my dad’sfamily. He’s a little bit younger than my dad. He and my dad grew up together.All throughout my childhood my dad used to tell me about how he would havelittle cricket fights with his friends and stuff and he would tell me all thesestories about how he would win. And now talking to this other guy, he’s theguy who used to have these little contests with my dad and he would alwayswin. [laugh] This was a guy who had grown up with my dad. And it was suchan incredible experience to place some validity into this culture and seeing thatit’s so different from what I grew up with which is such an integral part of myparents’ life.And so what it did for me, as I look back now, is it’s given me a lot ofinsight into understanding my parents and understanding why they are the waythey are. Leaving, I was 19, 20 or so, I was still in the stage where I really135didn’t understand my parents at all. I didn’t understand their Chinese nature, Ididn’t understand a lot of why they’re so peculiar about some things. Just interms of holding the family together, in terms of family pride, just like a lot ofthings that are important but I didn’t see the emphasis that they put in it. Andlike always having family dinners together, just a lot of quirks that my parentshave that I just thought was kind of odd. I could kind of accept as part of them,but didn’t really have any understanding into it. And then going, it really gaveme a chance to understand my parents and to realize what kind of hardshipsthey’ve been through in terms of growing up extremely comfortable, and havingeverything stripped away from them and having to flee the country in themiddle of the war. (p. 18-20)My parents left and they’re very comfortable now in the States and tosee the people who stayed there who have gone through the transition to thenew type of government who have been repressed, who have all theirbelongings taken away from them, integrated into the communist ideal andseeing the hardships that they were dealing with, it really gave me a perspectiveon where my parents are coming from. I guess that might have happened withme growing up and getting over my terrible teenage years anyway, but just inthe way it happened with me, going to China and me having this realization andme growing up and maturing in this way, it gave me a much differentperspective when I came back. Now I can honestly say that I’m pretty goodfriends with my parents and I can understand them and appreciate them forwhat they are instead of, and thinking about how much they’ve integrated intoAmerican culture is really, like before I would be like, ‘Why can’t they just be alittle more American?’ that kind of thing. But now rm realizing how muchthey’ve come from the way they grew up and the circumstances of their youth.It has really, really interesting. It has opened up a lot of conversations. MyMandarin is much, much better now. And so now with my grandmother, wehave tons of stuff to say to each other. Now that I’ve been there and have seensome of it, my parents, and both my grandmothers, they’re much more open tome. They tell me about a lot more stories that are very emotionally difficult forthem, things that they’ve hidden in the past, stories about this person or thatperson. And I took pictures of everybody and I had pictures of my family andfor some of these people to see my mom or my grandmother and to see thatthey have this healthy family and I’m all here. It was a really incredibleexchange.(p.20-2 1)You hear of a lot of the Asian families that are growing up here in theStates and they’re trying to preserve whatever, whatever, whatever. And theywant their children to marry into Chinese families or Korean families or whathave you. My parents were just never part of that. They were very encouraginginto whatever we wanted to do. I know a lot of parents who would have justput their foot down and said, ‘Pearl, no you cannot go to Nicaragua during thewar. [laugh] I don’t care about how much soul searching you want to do, justdon’t do it there.’ [laugh] So they’ve always been extremely encouraging intowhatever we wanted to do no matter what crazy idea it is or what crazy sportswe wanted to go into. And so they never pushed anything upon us and so theynever suggested that we go to China to learn more about Chinese culture. Andbecause it was a very difficult, emotional type for them they don’t really eventalk about it that much. Like my dad would always tell me stories about hisyouth in growing up in China, blah, blah, blah and this happened, this happenedand these stories, but they were always childhood stories. They’re not politicalstories about the transition time. That whole area from the time my parents left136their home towns to how they met, how they got married, how they got to theStates, that whole period of 10, 15 years was a complete unknown to me untilvery recently. I started having more of an interest in that as I became older andI just wanted to know, how did my parents meet, things like that. And thenafter coming back, then I drilled my parents about things. Some things theyhaven’t been wanting to tell me and there are some things that they werehesitant to tell me. But talldng to people there I actually learned a lot about myparents that they never told me about.And it’s like, ‘Well so and so told me about when this happened,’ andthen my mom would be like, a big sigh and then started to talk about it. So a lotof that stuff they never talked about. It’s not like they didn’t want to share itwith us, it was just a difficult time for them so it was difficult for them to bringit up and especially if we don’t understand, they have difficulty reallyexpressing it to us and having us understand how important it is for them. Itjust never really happened that much. But since I made the step and it was myinitiative to go fmd these people. I told them that I’m going to their home townsand that I need all the information they can give me, blah, blah, blah. Then theywere encouraging and they wished me all the luck and my mom was into it.And coming back they’re very into it now and they’re very glad that I went andthey’re very glad that they can see pictures and they know more about peopleand they know who’s still there and what kind of conditions they live in, thatkind of thing. And so they’re very, very happy about that. And it’s drawnmyself so much closer to my parents and my grandpare