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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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

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NARRATWES OF STUDENT EXPERIENCE, REFLECHON, AND TRANSFORMATION IN EXPERIENTIAL, CROSS-CULTURAL LEARNING by KFTiY MARIE TUFFO BA. Hons., University of California, Berkeley, 1992 A THESIS SUBM1TI’ED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Educational Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNWERS1TY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1994 © Kelly Marie Tuffo, 1994 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. (Signature Department of 4 t#io,1S S#ttties The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date 2 ii-ber /91 Abstract This study is an investigation of the process of experiential, cross-cultural learning. Through in-depth interviews, twelve U.S. undergraduate students discussed their experiences in semester-long experiential cultural immersion programs in non-industrialized countries approximately one year after returning home. They recounted their experiences and reflected on the 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 and the conditions that led to an increase in the intensity of cultural immersion. Three main areas of the learning process were examined: 1) critical relationships developed during the time abroad that provided students with opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and emotional support 2) critical incidents and crises that challenged students’ cultural values and meaning perspectives and created feelings of cultural marginality, and 3) consequent changes in students’ meaning perspectives resulting from their experiences and critical reflection. Theories of experiential learning, experiential, cross-cultural learning, and Mezirow’s (1991) theory of transformative learning form the theoretical framework for this thesis. This learning process is found to have significant formative and transformative effects on students. Some changes that students experienced included increased self-awareness, value clarification, improved levels of self-confidence, transformed meaning perspectives or world views, development of feelings of human and cultural reciprocity, and commitment to career goals. The analysis of this learning process of young adults leads to some modification of Mezirow’s theory. This study provides in-depth insight into the student viewpoint of the experiential, cross cultural learning process, and informs the larger field of study abroad in terms of the experiential dynamics of all cultural immersion programs. In addition, this study sheds light on the application of Mezirow’s transformation theory to the learning of young adults. 11 Table of Contents Abstract U Table of Contents iii List of Tables vi Acknowledgments vii Chapter One: Framing the Study 1 Introduction 1 A Theoretical Framework 2 Experiential Learning 4 Experience 7 Reflection 7 Change 9 Experiential, Cross-Cultural Learning 10 Cross-Cultural Dialogue 13 Cultural Marginality 14 Transformation Learning Theory 16 A Review of Empirical Studies 22 Chapter Outlines 25 Chapter Two: Methodology 27 Introduction 27 Description of Study 27 Purpose 27 Site Selection 28 Selection of Participants 29 Data Collection 30 Researcher Role 32 Discussion of Methodological Principles 33 Methodological Validity and Reliability 37 Reflections on Researcher Subjectivity 41 Reflections on Narrative 42 My Experience as an SiT Student in Zimbabwe 45 Background 45 Important Relationships 47 Critical Incident 48 Transformations 51 Conclusion 52 Chapter Three: The School for International Training’s College Semester Abroad Program 54 Introduction 54 The Organization 54 History 56 College Semester Abroad 61 Chapter Four: Participant Backgrounds 64 Introduction 64 Table 1: A Summary of General Information of Participants 65 Susan 66 111 Megan 68 Greg 69 Lisa 70 Angela 71 Brian 72 Emily 74 Danielle 75 Nicole 77 Jodie 79 James 80 Chris 82 Conclusion 84 Chapter Five: Relationships and Emotionally-Engaged Learning 86 Introduction 86 Homestays 86 Relationships With People of the Host Culture 101 Relationships With Other SIT Students 107 Academic Directors 114 Conclusion 120 Chapter Six: Critical Incidents and Crisis 121 Introduction 121 Gender Relations 121 Race Relations 129 International Relations 138 Culture Shock 145 Re-entry 148 Chapter Seven: Transformation 157 Introduction 157 Psychological Perspectives 158 Self-Awareness and Value Clarification 158 Self-Confidence 162 Transformation 166 Sociolinguistic Perspectives 169 Reciprocity 169 Academic Interests, Career, and Social Change 172 Adventure Learning 178 Chapter Eight: Conclusions 184 Introduction 184 Discussion of Research Questions 184 Perspective Transformation 184 Epistemic Perspective Transformation 186 Sociolinguistic Perspective Transformation 187 Psychological Perspective Transformation 190 Conditions Leading to Perspective Transformation 192 Conclusions: Reflections on the Social Context of This Study 199 Multi-Leveled Reciprocity 199 The Student Selection Process 203 Implications of This Study 205 Bibliography 208 iv Appendix I: Organizational Structure and List of Programs for World Learning 213 Appendix II: Letter of Introduction and Preliminary Questionnaire 215 Appendix ifi: Interview Questions 218 V List of Tables Table 1: A Summary of General Information of Participants 65 Table 2: Constructs Grouped by Meaning Perspective 157 & 186 vi Acknowledgments I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the participants in this study who shared their time, thoughts, feelings, and experiences with me freely and openly. I was profoundly touched by their generosity of spirit and intrigued by their deep contemplation of humanity and culture. I would also like to thank my advisor, Dr. Peter Seixas for all the time and patience he devoted to guiding me through the process of writing this thesis. I will remember his natural grace and ability as a teacher and educator for a long time to come. Thanks also go to Dr. Deirdre Kelly and Dr. Allison Tom who provided a great deal of assistance with this project as members of my committee, and who, along with Peter, gently pushed me to refme my analysis. I would like to thank the members of my family who are always a pillar of support for me in any project I attempt. This thesis truly would not be possible without their support. They kept me going through the long days and nights at the computer. Thanks also go to Laura Zeznik for her technical assistance. Finally, I would like to thank my lovely circle of friends in Vancouver and in Educational Studies who offered an incredible amount of support and suffered endless 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 in many new and exciting ways, and I am eternally grateful. vii Chanter One: Framing the Study Introduction This is the process whereby people become aware that the meaning system that they have imposed upon their life world is not the only system and that there are alternative systems of meaning. Having become aware that their original system is not necessarily the only one, or the best one for them, they might rethink 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 to participate in the School for International Training’s College Semester Abroad program. This was an enlightening and transformative experience. The personal growth and change that I experienced during this semester as a result of living, studying, and traveling abroad have intrigued me ever since. I find myself continually processing and reflecting on these experiences, even though four years have passed. I have developed an entirely new perspective and world view as a result of my relationships, encounters, and cross-cultural learning 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 own experiences, and for this thesis, I have chosen to study the student perspective of this learning process. This research has allowed me to reflect further on my own learning experiences in Zimbabwe 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 specifically on the role of an Academic Director in programs such as these, and to develop my own philosophy 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-industrialized country, 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? If students are transformed by this learning process, what is the nature of this transformation? 1 2) What elements of the experiential, cross-cultural immersion experience are crucial in the student’s change process? In particular, under what circumstances do the emotional and interpersonal involvement of students in the host culture have a transformative effect on their intellectual and personal development? How do individual differences among students in background, knowledge, and values affect their experience of the change process? What effect does the process of re-entry and re-integration into the home culture have on the transformation process? In order to research these questions, I interviewed 12 participants of the School for International Training College Semester Abroad programs in non-industrialized countries approximately one year after their return to the United States. This thesis is a discussion of these students’ experiences as portrayed in these in-depth interviews. A Theoretical Framework The contemporary field of study abroad is composed of an assortment of educational programs. These programs vary in terms of learning objectives as well as format in attempting to 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, the intensity 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 which the home university has an exchange contract. In other programs, a home university may have an extension program in a foreign country at which students can study. Still other programs operate as independent organizations specializing in study abroad, from which students can transfer their academic credits to their home university. In addition, students may enroll independently at universities or colleges abroad, and attempt to transfer credits to a home university. Travel-study programs focus on travel through one or a number of countries and students are exposed to a variety of new places, as opposed to other programs which focus on deep cultural immersion in one area (Freeman, 1964). Programs typically last anywhere from a few weeks to one semester to one year. Many institutions also have summer programs. 2 Students study abroad for a number of reasons, such as language immersion, to study a particular subject, or to broaden a liberal arts education. Some programs emphasize one academic subject, such as art, history, or regional studies, while others accentuate cross- cultural learning and personal growth. Programs also differ in the degree of cultural immersion with in the host culture. Some students may be left alone in an isolated, new environment for a prolonged period of time, while others learn surrounded by the support of an group of students from their home culture, and the group experiences immersion in a host culture as a unit. Goodwin and Nacht (1988) identify ten educational and social goals and potential accomplishments used to justify various study abroad programs. These objectives are: 1) to create “cultured” citizens and instill certain cultural attributes in young people of a particular social class, 2) to broaden the intellectual elite, 3) to foster personal growth through exposure to a foreign environment, 4) to fulfill a distinctive institutional mission, such as religious institutions, 5) to explore family roots, 6) to master a foreign language, 7) to study a specialized subject matter, 8) to gain self-insight, 9) to learn from others, and 10) to improve international relations. Within the host cultural environment, study abroad programs may consist of academic study or structured, educative experiences. Commonly, a mixture of both of these approaches is 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. In particular, this study explores the nature and results of experiential, cross-cultural learning within the environment of a non-industrialized society in which a group of U.S. students are immersed as a unit, with some opportunities for short-term, isolated immersion. Three learning theories form the theoretical basis of this study: experiential learning theory, experiential cross-cultural learning theory, and transformative learning theory. Each of these learning theories is applicable to a number of different learning situations; they are 3 concerned largely with the format and components of learning as opposed to the learning context. Experiential Learning Experiential 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 the degree 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 experiential learning. John Dewey is considered to be one of the founding theorists of this concept. In Experience and Education (1938), Dewey discusses the organic connection between education and personal experience, and cautions educators to distinguish between educative and mis- educative experiences (p. 25). However, beyond the initial connection of experience and education and a discussion of standards, he does not formulate an actual definition of experiential learning. More recent educators have endeavored to compose coherent definitions of experiential learning. Many theorists use stage theory to describe this learning process. While this is useful in understanding the various components of experiential learning, it does not imply that all students experience the learning process in the same order or without variety. Coleman (1976) distinguishes between information assimilation and experiential learning through stage theory. The information assimilation process begins with receiving information through a symbolic medium, such as a lecture or a book. Next, the information or general principle is assimilated by the learner. The learner then attempts to apply the general principle to a particular instance. Finally, the learner moves “from the cognitive and symbolic sphere to the sphere of action” (p. 51). The information or general principle is acted upon as it becomes practical in everyday life. The process of experiential learning, in turn, is an almost reverse sequence of information assimilation. First, the learner has an experience, whether it be an action or observation of an event, and observes its effects. Next, the learner seeks to understand these 4 effects of the experience, and then seeks to understand the general principle behind the experience, to generalize about a number of related situations and instances. Finally, the learner applies this principle through action in new, related circumstances (Coleman, 1976, pp. 5 1-52). In spite of the differentiation between information assimilation and experiential learning for the purpose of definition, Coleman explains that the two are not mutually exclusive of one another, and that an appropriate mix must be found between the two forms of learning (Coleman, 1982, pp. 58-60). Joplin (1981) presents a similar five part model of experiential learning. She specifies that experiential education by definition must provide the learner with an experience, as well as facilitate reflection on that experience. Both of these elements are essential to the experiential 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 second part, the student is immersed in a stressful, challenging, unavoidable situation, “often in an unfamiliar environment requiring new skills or the use of new knowledge” (p. 18). The third and fourth components, support and feedback, exist throughout the entire process to encourage and inform the student. In the fmal stage in the process, the student is debriefed, and the learning 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 in which 1) concrete experience, subjected to 2) observation and reflection reveals 3) a learner’s theory in use, which through modification as a result of reflection on experience leads to 4) the development of a new espoused theory, followed by 5) the testing of the new espoused theory in new situations, leading back to concrete experience. In short, experiential education signifies 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 in 5 new roles featuring significant tasks with real consequences, and where the emphasis is on learning by doing with associated reflection” (p. 58). Gager (1982) theorizes, “I believe that the process of learning by experience occurs when the learner is placed into a demanding reality context which necessitates the mastery of new applied skills followed immediately by responsible, 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 learner is directly in touch with the realities being studied. It is contrasted with learning in which the learner only reads about, talks about, or writes about these realities but never comes in contact with them as part of the learning process” (p. 2). In addition to defining experiential learning, theorists have also described a number of conditions inherent in the experiential learning process. Experiential learning is process- centered as opposed to outcome-centered. Students learn from the process of learning in addition to learning about the subject matter (Joplin, 1981; Koib, 1984; Proudman, 1992). It is a cyclical process which leads to the creation of a unique continuum of experience for each learner. The continuum of experience creates the outlook through which all other experiences are judged, learned, and understood (Dewey, 1938; Kolb, 1984). Experiential learning is a holistic 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 the students as opposed to the teacher. The teacher is not considered to be an expert, purveyor of truth, 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 relationships between the learner and self, the learner and teacher, the learner and other learners, and the learner and the learning environment (Coleman, 1982; Kolb, 1984; Proudman, 1992). The student has a great deal of control over the learning process through initiative, responsibility, and decision making (Proudman, 1992). 6 Experience There are a number of criteria for structuring experiences in experiential education. Experiences should be challenging, intense, and demanding, and should force students out of their comfort zones. Students should be placed in new roles where they must master new tasks and skills. They should be presented with conflicts that they must resolve, creating opportunities for personal transformational growth. Students should gain a feeling of mastery and 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 in the students. Students should be impelled into action by subject content which is relevant and meaningful to them. They should be emotionally engaged by purposeful endeavors that involve 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 affective understanding (Silckema and Niyekawa, 1987). Experiential learning requires relationships to shape experience and reflection, and to provide support and feedback. The creation of these relationships promotes cooperation and trust among students and educators in a learning environment. As students discuss their learning experiences within these relationships, they can determine the creation of collective experience, which is built of a number of individual, personal experiences, and which can then be used as a basis for critical reflection and social change. Reflection Experience alone does not constitute experiential learning; reflection is a vital component in the process. Reflection can incorporate theory building, generalization, abstract conceptualization, dialogue, and the making of meaning. Reflection is shaped by the ideology of 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 and 7 social context which shape experience. Reflection is preferably moved and shaped by student perceptions, evaluations, and conclusions rather than by academic theory, and is an essential component of experiential learning (Boud, Keogh, and Walker, 1985; Chapman, 1992; Joplin, 1981; Proudman, 1992). Change resulting from experience and reflection entails the integration of new experience and meaning into a student’s continuum of experience, resulting in a new understanding and world view, or meaning perspective. Change can refer to personal transformation or social transformation, or both. The social, historical, cultural, and political context of experience shapes the learning process. Culture can determine the content of experience 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 personal lives, and critical reflection, in which students determine the place of the experience in larger social, political, historical, and cultural contexts. When transformative learning takes place, personal reflection and growth can in some instances be associated with critical reflection and the 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 well as 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 the interaction of the internal and external, our reflection orients us for further thought and action. Reflection is thus ‘meta-thinking’ (thinking about thinking) in which we consider the relationship between our thoughts and action in a particular context....We pause to reflect because some issue arises which demands that we stop and take stock or consider before we act. We do so because the situation we are in requires consideration: how we act in it is a matter of some significance. We become aware of ourselves, in some small or large way, as agents of history; we become aware that how we act will influence the course of events, at least for ourselves and usually for others too. (p. 141) 8 Kemmis asserts six points about reflection and the study of reflection: 1) Reflection is not a purely ‘internal’, psychological process: it is action oriented and historically embedded. 2) Reflection is not a purely individual process: like language, it is a social process. 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 life by the way we participate in communication, decision-making and social action. 6) Research methods which fail to take into account these aspects of reflection are, at best, limited and , at worst, mistaken; to improve reflection, the study of reflection must explore the double dialectic of thought and action, the individual and society. (Kemmis, 1985, p. 140) The danger of relativist reflection necessitates the distinction between reflection which connects personal experience with the collective, and reflection limited to one’s own personal experience and identity. Change There 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 curricula of education; and assessment and accreditation of life and work experience in order to create new 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 given objectives. The largest and most significant formal, quantitative research study conducted on experiential learning thus far is the “National Assessment of Experiential Education” (Conrad and Hedin, 1982). This U.S. study assessed 27 experience-based educational programs. It quantitatively measured the impact of these programs on the social, psychological, and intellectual development of secondary students, and demonstrates the third component of experiential learning: change. Program directors specified what they believed to be the effects of their programs from which the researchers developed a list of outcomes of experiential learning. Students then rated themselves concerning these outcomes on a questionnaire. The 9 study showed a significant positive impact on all three areas of development, more than that produced by classroom instruction alone. Concerning psychological development, students showed 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 also moved towards taking responsible action as opposed to simply having responsible attitudes. These students developed more positive attitudes towards the people with whom they interacted, and strongly valued being active in the community as a result of the programs. Students also gained increased knowledge about work and career options. Considering intellectual development, a large majority of students reported that they learned more in the experiential program than in traditional classroom learning. Students also improved in their problem-solving abilities. In accordance with experiential learning theory, many students and practitioners attest to transformation resulting from experiential learning, and this study verifies that experiential learning has a positive and significant impact on students. Experiential Cross-Cultural Learning Experiential cross-cultural learning refers to the process of learning about a new culture through experiential learning and cultural immersion, where a student lives within a new cultural environment. Learning and living within a foreign culture help to expand the student’s knowledge of both the host and home cultures. Experiential cross-cultural learning differs from study at a university in a foreign country, in which academic learning is emphasized, or from travel in a foreign country, in which a student makes mostly superficial personal contact with people of a new culture. It consists of structured experiences designed to challenge the student with a new culture and to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. Through interaction with people of a different culture, a student can observe new communication codes, recognize his or her own, and develop relationships which personalize understanding of the host culture. Experiential, cross-cultural learning also endeavors to create a global perspective in students. This perspective is invaluable for young adults in a modern world composed of global economic, political, and ecological systems (Kniep, 1987, p. 146). “If young people 10 are to be truly informed about their world, their education must engage them in inquiry about the 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 economic growth 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 human responsibility 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 and interdependence of countries internationally (Kniep, 1987, p. 156). Ideally, this type of education leads to action as a “global citizen.” The challenge of global citizenship, then, is to engage Canadians in ways that are persuasive and to enlist their involvement in constructive change. The global citizen is informed, critical and active in community affairs, whether local, national, or global. He or she understands that in any community the dominant groups convey what it means to be a citizen, and he or she is willing to confront the power of those groups. (Schuyler and Schuyler, 1989, p. 160) Experiential, cross-cultural learning is one way to generate global perspectives and citizenship in students. Neff (1981) explains the importance of cultural immersion in experiential, 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 reflection upon the direct realities of a host society....Cioss-cultural experiential education is preeminently integrative in nature. The student connects with the host culture at all levels of his being. Such programs offer opportunities for the acquisition of factual knowledge, for synthesizing data, determining patterns of meaning, developing powers of independent observation, and for the application of knowledge and understanding to the immediate situations at hand. 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; and a corresponding potential for the development of personal maturity and capacities in the learning process itself. (p. 3) In conjunction with the development of a global perspective, students may also gain maturity and personal development through cultural immersion. Cross-cultural learning experiences can be both structured and unstructured. Often programs initiate structured situations with the hope that these will spur unstructured learning experiences. Structured experiences include homestays, study tours, discussion panels, and 11 work camps. Unstructured experiences consist of unplanned interactions with people and events within the new cultural environment. Both structured and unstructured cross-cultural experiences challenge the student’s own cultural understanding, beliefs, and behavior. They challenge students’ previous experiences within their own cultures, causing them to re-evaluate previous reflection on those experiences. Cross-cultural experiential learning can also cause students 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 the relationship, 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 the application of this model to year-long programs.] These stages of experience are relatively standard 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 the growth of competence in students. As students are exposed to new ways of life, their physical senses are constantly discovering new information and stimulating the brain. This leads to an increase in learning and memory. Once students have gained knowledge about the host culture and the new way of life becomes familiar, they become more competent in living in the new culture, and therefore become more self-confident. This creates a positive attitude towards learning. 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 make wise and educated decisions. Since students are outsiders in the host culture, they are in a good position to learn through observation since they can observe things that are unnoticeable to cultural insiders. Finally, students are placed in a number of situations where they can develop relationships with people of the host culture, enabling them to engage in cultural and linguistic learning. 12 Cross-Cultural Dialogue In an experiential cross-cultural learning situation, students often come to understand the experiences of people from a host culture, as well as the social, political, cultural, and historical contexts in which they occur, through dialogue. At the same time, students can explore the forces that shape their own past experiences and meaning perspectives. This process can lead to increased understanding and open dialogue across cultures. Significant relationships in the learning process facilitate this in-depth dialogue and reflection. Once students see similarities between themselves and others and develop emotional attachments to people in the host culture, they may become more apt to recognize and confront the social problems faced by those people. In addition, as students recognize differences between their own culture and the new culture, they may gain insight into themselves as they recognize how their own personal characteristics and values result from their cultural upbringing. This process can provoke perspective transformation. Each person’s individual experiences are significant within the social structure and the larger context of collective experience. Theoretically, the experiential, cross-cultural learning process facilitates acceptance of cultural diversity by generating continual cross-cultural dialogue. As students develop emotional and interpersonal relationships with people of a host country, both people in the relationship share experiences and engage in dialogue with one another, through which their principles and meaning perspectives are challenged. The interconnection between experience and critical reflection must lead to and extend out of dialogue. Dialogue is an experience in itself, as well as a form of reflection, in which people 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 and culture. [Nb one can say a true word alone - nor can he [jç] say itfor another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words....If it is in speaking their word that men [jç.], by naming the world, transform it, dialogue imposes itself as the way by which men achieve significance as men. Dialogue is thus an existential necessity.... [Djialogue is the encounter in which the united reflection and action of the dialoguers are addressed to the world which is to be transformed and 13 humanized...Self-sufficiency is incompatible with dialogue....I cannot think for others or without others, nor can others think for me. (Freire, 1972, p. 76-79) Study abroad programs create opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and the development of cross-cultural relationships so that both participants can reflect on their own experiences from the perspective of an outsider, possibly leading them to understand their own experiences within the context of the experiences of others. Reflection and dialogue can be considered to be of extreme importance in the learning process, as they lead from the understanding 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, a student’s self-concept and world view may be challenged or transformed. Change in the conception 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 Marginality There are a number of optimum conditions for effective experiential, cross-cultural learning. Most importantly, students should be placed into challenging situations within a network of support. Michael Paige (1993) describes cross-cultural education as psychologically 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 the sojourner’s home and host culture 2) a high degree to which the student negatively evaluates cultural differences 3) a high degree of ethnocentricity on the part of the student 4) a high degree 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 student 7) a high degree to which language ability is essential to functioning in the host culture 8) a 14 high degree of immersion on the part of the student in the host culture 9) little access of students to their own culture group 10) little prior, in-depth cross-cultural experience on the part of the student 11) unrealistic student expectations of the host culture 12) being physically different from members of the host culture and feeling highly visible 13) feeling on the part of the student that part of his or her identity is invisible to the host culture 14) a feeling on the part of the student of disrespect or undeserved recognition from the host culture 15) a low degree 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 of marginality. He cites Musgrove (1977) who defined marginality as: ...change from a former position which was accepted as self-evident and normal, which was taken for granted, and presented itself as not in need of further analysis. Change to a marginal position brings into question three basic ingredients of reality: time, typicality, and preconstituted (recipe) knowledge. Marginal situations, at least when first encountered, make time, types, and recipes problematic. (p. 7) Musgrove’s study of transformative learning through marginality is significant because of his emphasis on two factors: that transformation as a result of marginality occurs more frequently in young adults as they are more open to new experiences than older adults, and significant others are of overwhelming importance in the process of personal change, two points which Mezirow neglects to emphasize. Marginality places people in a standpoint from which they can learn about a culture partly from the perspective of an outsider and partly from the perspective of an insider. Through their relations with people of a host culture, students gain insight to the insider’s view of the host culture, as well as an outsider’s view of their home culture, allowing the student to gain insight on both, as well as on the abstract concept of culture itself. As Halsey (1990) explains, “When the process of dealing with cultural differences is part of a student’s everyday life, ‘culture’ is no longer an abstract concept” (p. 205). 15 Transformation Learning Theory Transformation theory, as defmed by Jack Mezirow (1991), helps to clarify the various types of perspective transformation which can result from the cross-cultural, experiential learning process. Mezirow’s transformation theory discusses mainly the learning of older adults, because adults of this age are more likely to have reached a certain stage of development in terms of context awareness, focus, goal awareness, critical reflectivity, and greater integration of the cognitive dimensions of learning. However, Mezirow’s theory has some bearing on the experiential and transformative learning of young adults, and in this study I 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 missing dimension of psychological adult learning theories: an explanation of the making of meaning from experience. He explores this phenomenon within the context of constructivism, critical theory, and deconstructivism in social theory. Constructivism assumes that, “meaning exists within ourselves...and that the personal meanings that we attribute to our experience are acquired 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 of our 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 taken for granted, to speak with our own voice. Thus it becomes crucial that the individual learn to negotiate meanings, purposes, and values critically, reflectively, and rationally instead of passively accepting the social realities defmed by others. Transformation theory provides a description of the dynamics of the way adults learn to do this. (Mezirow, 1991, p. 3) A major element of transformation learning theory is the concept of meaning perspectives. Meaning perspectives are frames of reference or selective codes which guide perception and comprehension. These function as a filter in the memory. The most significant form of transformation in learning is the transformation of meaning perspectives. I have chosen the term meaning perspective to refer to the structure of assumptions within which one’s past experience assimilates and transforms new experience. A meaning perspective is a habitual set of expectations that 16 constitutes an orienting frame of reference that we use in projecting our symbolic models and that serves as a (usually tacit) belief system for interpreting and evaluating the meaning of experience. (Mezirow, 1991, p. 42) Mezirow distinguishes three types of meaning perspectives: epistemic (the way we know and how we use knowledge), sociolinguistic, and psychological. Each meaning perspective embodies a number of meaning schemes, or “specific knowledge, beliefs, value judgments, and feelings that constitute interpretations of experience” (p. 5-6). Meaning schemes 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 or extending our expectations about how things are supposed to be. We allow our meaning system to diminish our awareness of how things really are in order to avoid anxiety, creating a zone of blocked attention and self-deception. Overcoming limited, distorted, and arbitrarily selective modes of perception and cognition through reflection on assumptions that formerly have been accepted uncritically is central to development in adulthood. A crucial dimension of adult learning involves the process of justifying or 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 social norms, cultural or language codes, and social ideologies; and our ways of feeling, involving repressed parental prohibitions from childhood that control adult feelings and behavior through anxiety. It is within this process of consensually determining the conditions under which an expressed idea is true or valid that problematic meaning schemes (specific knowledge, beliefs, value judgments, or feelings involved in making a interpretation) are confirmed or negated and meaning perspectives (rule systems governing perception and cognition) are significantly restructured. (Mezirow, 1991, p. 5) Once meaning schemes or perspectives are challenged through experience, their validity are tested through critical reflection. Critical reflection involves the rigorous assessment of students’ assumptions, expectations, and values. If these are found to be mistaken or ill-founded, new, more comprehensive, meaning schemes or perspectives can be developed (Mezirow, 1991). Through critical reflection and interpretation, an old meaning perspective might be reconciled with new knowledge and experience, resulting in the formation of a new meaning perspective. The confrontation of distorted meaning perspectives can be considered emancipatory learning (Mezirow, 1991, p. 87). 17 All critical reflection is appraisive rather than prescriptive or designative. Emancipatory learning is often transformative. In emancipatory learning, the learner is presented with an alternative way of interpreting feelings and patterns of action; the old meaning scheme or perspective is negated and is either replaced or reorganized to incorporate new insights. In emancipatory learning we come to see our reality more inclusively, to understand it more clearly, and to integrate our experience better. Dramatic personal and social changes become possible when we become aware of the way that both our psychological and our cultural assumptions have created or contributed to our dependence on outside forces that we have regarded as unchangeable (Mezirow, 1991, p. 88). This seems simple. An educator only needs to challenge a person’s cultural assumptions 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 avoid anxiety as much as possible, resulting in selective perception and self-deception (cited in Mezirow, 1991, p. 18). If an experience becomes too intense or threatening to a student’s way of thinking, it will be blocked out or misinterpreted. Therefore, support and feedback are integral elements in transformative learning. In theory, it appears likely that a cross-cultural immersion experience would lead to the transformation of meaning perspectives. Cross-cultural students are confronted with foreign cultural norms and values which challenge their own personal and cultural meanings and perspectives. 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 this newly acquired knowledge and perspective with their previous cultural norms. This reconciliation can lead to the formation of new meaning perspectives. Cross-cultural immersion gives students new meanings from which to judge their home culture. Before studying abroad, students usually have only their home culture’s values with which to judge their own culture and meaning perspectives. After returning, they are able to assess their home culture from an outside view. They have acquired new perspectives from which to judge their previous world views. In addition, these students are somewhat open to the anxiety essential for transformative learning. They have purposely placed themselves in a situation where their cultural norms and personal values will be challenged. One can assume that they are open to transformation. 18 Mezirow distinguishes four different levels of learning in transformation theory. The first level, learning through established meaning schemes, consists of the expansion and development of existing meaning schemes which are taken for granted. In other words, learning can be easily accommodated by established and accepted meaning schemes. The second level involves incorporating new meaning schemes which are in accordance with accepted meaning perspectives. The third level is learning through the transformation of meaning schemes, through which a person begins to reflect on and challenge assumptions and expectations previously taken for granted, but is not forced to alter meaning perspectives. The fourth level of learning, considered the most significant level by Mezirow, is learning through perspective transformation. At this level, a meaning perspective is distorted and a student becomes aware and must recreate this meaning perspective in order to reconcile new found contradictions (Mezirow, 1991). While these levels are useful in distinguishing the components of transformative learning, Mezirow’s four levels of learning become problematic when applied to the actual learning experiences of adults, as this is a hierarchical model which implies that unless a student “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, which may not be indicated when these experiences are evaluated by a system which focuses only on transformative learning. It is also extremely difficult to distinguish between meaning schemes and meaning perspectives. Mezirow quotes Paulo Freire (1970), who discusses the process through which learners, “achieve a deepening awareness of both the sociocultural reality which shapes their lives and their capacity to transform that reality through action upon it,” (p. 136). A condition for achieving transformative learning is not only personal transformation but also becoming aware of one’s own capacity to transform the world. Transformative learning involves an enhanced level of awareness of the context of one’s beliefs and feelings, a critique of their assumptions and particularly 19 premises, an assessment of alternative perspectives, a decision to negate an old perspective in favor of a new one or to make a synthesis of old and new, an ability to take action based upon the new perspective, and a desire to fit the new perspective into the broader context of one’s life. Perspective Transformation involves (a) an empowered sense of self, (b) more critical understanding of how one’s social relationships and culture have shaped one’s beliefs and feelings, and (c) more functional strategies and resources for taking action. Taking an action is an integral dimension of transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991, p. 161). Another criterion for perspective transformation entails a questioning of one’s sense of self. Because perspectives include personal ideologies and deeply held beliefs upon which we base 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 power of such an experience can also have negative effects if the learner is unable to come to a resolution, and can result in immobilization rather than action (Mezirow, 1991). Transformation theory states that uncritically assimilated meaning perspectives function as perceptual and interpretive codes in the construal of meaning. Experience reinforces personal meaning systems by extending expectations of the world. The process of overcoming limited, distorted or selective modes of perception through reflection is central to adult development. Reflection involves validity testing. When an experience is incompatible with an existing meaning system, it is difficult to integrate that experience into the continuum of past experience, and there exists the possibility of it becoming distorted. Movement towards a more inclusive, permeable, and integrated meaning perspective which is validated through 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 to experiential learning theory. According to Mezirow (1991), “Transformative learning is learning through action, and the beginning of the action learning process is deciding to appropriate a different meaning perspective” (p. 56). Similarly, reflection and dialogue are important elements of both theories. In both, learners can challenge distorted meaning perspectives through critical reflection. Significantly, the study by Conrad and Hedin (1982) 20 demonstrated that experiential education leads to development in all three areas specified by Mezirow: epistemic, sociolinguistic, and psychological. In addition, both theories agree on the importance of discomfort or crisis in the learning process. In experiential, cross-cultural learning, as students attempt to survive in a new culture, they make mistakes through the application of old cultural habits to new cultural situations. Through this process, students become aware of cultural influences which shape their own thought and behavior. Through culture shock, students realize that their old cultural frameworks are inapplicable. A student will remain in an uncomfortable and ambiguous situation until a new framework can be devised (Sikkema & Niyekawa, 1987, p. 17-18). Gudykunst, Hammer, and Wiseman (1977) hypothesize that within this new cultural environment, students actually develop a third cultural perspective different from their home and host cultures (cited in Pearson, 1981, p. 25). This is an intermediary point of view, similar to Kniep’s global perspective, and consists of: towards new ideas and experiences, the ability to empathize with people from other cultures, accuracy in perceiving differences and similarities between the sojourner’s own culture and the host culture, being non- judgmental, being astute, noncritical observers in their own and other people’s behavior, the ability to establish meaningful relationships with people in the host 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 learning compels students to confront and critically reflect on their own cultural values and social meanings. This stressful process gives students new tools for learning and reflection, and places them in challenging learning environments in which they must solve problems in order to survive. “The outcome for most people is a stretching of old capacities, a development of new 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, not in situations of equilibrium,” (Kauffman et al., 1992, p. 124). 21 A Review of Empirical Studies Several quantitative studies were conducted throughout the 1970’s examining the effects of study abroad for students. These studies have mixed fmdings. Few empirically verified significant attitude change in students, or found any relationship between personal change and study abroad. However, program directors and participants continually attest to significant personal growth resulting from cross-cultural experience. In addition, studies using questionnaire and interview methods do find a strong coffelation between study abroad and personal growth (Sell, 1980; Kauffman et al., 1992). The inconclusiveness of this body of research could result from problematic measurement instruments, from a lack of theoretical basis, or from inconsistency in the specification of program components under study. It seems that standardized instruments inadequately measure the kinds of change which result from study abroad (Sell, 1980; Kauffman et al., 1992). It would appear that the intertwining of the academic and the personal has remained hidden to researchers using standardized instruments, which goes far in explaining the discrepancy between the results of the standardized “objective” evaluation tools and self-report data. The standardized instruments are based on the conventional educational model (a model that assumes a dualism between the cognitive and the affective realms) that might more accurately reflect traditional, campus-based educational results than those of study abroad.. ..Students express frustration with the evaluation instruments which fail to identify some of what they perceive to be the deeper and richer outcomes of study abroad (Kauffman et aL, 1992, p. 143). There are a number of examples of standardized studies which have attempted to measure quantitatively the effects of study abroad. Kauffman et al. (1992) provides an extensive appendix outlining quantitative studies on study abroad. The following is an example of the confusion resulting from these studies. Nash (1976), evaluated the effect of a year of study abroad in France on the self-realization of undergraduate students. He hypothesized 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 and flexibility, (4) increased self-assurance and confidence, and (5) increased objectivity. The study made before and after assessments of students in an experimental group and those in a control group. Students ifiled out several standardized questionnaires at a time. Data resulting 22 from the study confirmed the hypotheses concerning increased autonomy and expansion and differentiation of self. However, the hypotheses about increased tolerance and flexibility and increased self-assurance and confidence were not confirmed. Data displayed grounds for a contrary hypothesis about self-confidence. Adequate data was not available for testing the hypothesis concerning increased objectivity because it was not possible to develop an adequate measuring technique. However, this construct might have proven to be problematic regardless. A more appropriate determinant of self-realization might have been increased awareness of one’s own subjectivity. Hensley and Sell (1979) showed different results. They assessed the effects of a study abroad program on the attitudes of students. The program studied was a semester program in Geneva for the study of international politics and organization. Researchers assessed the attitude change in regard to two internationalist attitudes: woridmindedness and support of the United Nations, and two psychological variables: self-esteem and the tolerance of ambiguity. A questionnaire was administered to both experimental and control groups. Data confirmed the hypothesis that self-esteem of students substantially increased as a result of study abroad. However, the study did not determine significant attitude change concerning woridmindedness, support for the UN, or tolerance of ambiguity. While both Nash (1976) and Hensley and Sell (1979) failed to discover increased tolerance as a result of study abroad, they had conflicting findings concerning self-confidence and self-esteem. While these two variables are not exactly the same, they are similar enough to find this contradiction in results problematic. A year later, Deborah Sell (1980) showed conflicting findings again. She discovered a significant increase in the tolerance of ambiguity resulting from study abroad, and a lack of significant change in self-esteem (Sell, 1980). These results are confusing and inconclusive. Hansel and Grove (1986) studied the effects of experiential, cross-cultural learning resulting from a homestay in a host culture. In their questionnaire, designed largely by students, experimental and control groups rated themselves with respect to 17 personal 23 characteristics, which had been identified by returnees, in both a pre-test and a post-test. The results of the study showed significant increases in all 17 characteristics for students who studied abroad, and large gains in 10 of the 17 characteristics. These gains were much larger than the gains by students who did not study abroad (Hansel & Grove, 1986). The 17 personal characteristics consisted of: adaptability, awareness and appreciation of home country and culture, awareness and appreciation of host country and culture, awareness of opportunities, critical thinking, foreign language appreciation and ability, independence and responsibility for self, international awareness, non-materialism, understanding of other cultures, appreciation of own family, communication with others, exchange of ideas, high standards for personal relationships, open-mindedness, personal growth and maturity, self-confidence. The first ten characteristics in this list were found to have very significant gains resulting from study abroad. Another extensive study confirmed these positive results. Kauffman et al. (1992) interviewed students from three institutions in an effort to collect case histories of study abroad. Through these interviews and an extensive review of research in this field, they identified areas in which study abroad has considerable impact: intellectual development, expanded international perspectives, and personal development. In the area of intellectual development, growth occurred in foreign language learning, the expansion of learning in the major, and the increased general knowledge the student gained. Intellectual growth also appeared to incorporate new approaches toward learning. In terms of the development of an international perspective, students showed changes in their perceptions of host and home cultures and in their global understanding. Changes in students’ attitudes towards their home culture were apparently inversely related to the attitudes developed toward the host culture. Three dimensions of global understanding are identified: knowledge acquisition, affective change, and changes in behavior. Finally, the study identified four areas of potential impact in personal development: intrapersonal understanding, interpersonal understanding, values, and life direction and goals. In terms of personal development, the study found that: 24 ...students who can be described as less developmentally mature before they begin their study abroad are more likely to experience a greater magnitude of personal change than those who are more mature. Students who begin at a higher level of maturity are more likely to reach a sophisticated level of international understanding. Also, the less developmentally mature person who has only superficial contact with the host culture exhibits little change in either personal development or international awareness. Difficulty in re-entry into the home culture appears to be related to the magnitude of personal change and the attitudes of the sojourners and their families and friends. The greater the change, 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 framework of transfonnation. Living abroad is viewed as a powerful environment for self-transformation because of the unfamiliar setting, and because it forces a change in the students’ network of belonging allowing students to reshape their self-images. A model of the transformational process is described, in which six aspects of personality, woven together, form a descriptive model of the path to maturation: autonomy, belonging, values, cognition, vocation, and world view (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 students as a result of study abroad. However, the nature of this transformation has not been agreed upon. Quantitative research in this area is vague and inconclusive. In studies where students are directly consulted on their transformation, direct and informative answers arise. It is important that researchers continue to tap this source of information concerning this learning process. The diversity of types of study abroad makes some research fmdings of these studies on the general construct of “study abroad” confusing and ill-founded. This study specifically investigates 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. By expressly focusing on the transformation process, this study clarifies the nature and elements of perspective transformation. Chapter Outlines The remainder of this thesis is composed of seven chapters. Chapter Two is a discussion of the methodology used for this study. In this chapter, I describe my research 25 design and discuss the methodological principles that inform this design. These principles include theories of feminist research and experiential research methodologies. In addition, I reflect on and discuss my own subjectivity in regard to this research study. As I am an alumna of 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 International Training’s College Semester Abroad program, the study abroad program used in this study as a context through which to examine experiential, cross-cultural learning. I describe the history of 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 and their backgrounds. This and the following three chapters present narratives of student experience which are composed of excerpts from open-ended interviews with the participants, and excerpts from writing samples they provided. Chapter Five discusses important relationships of participants during their experiences abroad. These include relationships with homestay families, cross-cultural relationships, relationships with Academic Directors, and relationships with other SIT students. These relationships frame the students’ experiences. Chapter Six is a discussion of critical incidents and reflection experienced by the participants during cultural immersion and re-entry into the United States. Chapter Seven examines the transformation that students experienced as a result of their experiences, both personally and in terms of their academic and career interests. Chapter Eight confronts and discusses the initial research questions and draws conclusions on the research presented in this thesis. I examine Mezirow’s (1991) transformation theory in terms of the phenomenon of experiential, cross-cultural learning to determine if perspective transformation is a direct result, and whether Mezirow’s categories of learning are applicable to all the student experiences. Finally, I draw conclusions based on the research findings, and determine the implications of this study for the field of experiential study abroad. 26 Chanter Two: Methodology Introduction The kind of people we are is at the root of what, how and why we research. We bring 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 a student in Zimbabwe. I have used my own experiential knowledge to inform this study. In addition to bringing my self as a resource to my researching, it might also be accurate to say that this research functioned as a resource in my own personal growth. It helped me to reflect on and understand my own experiences. Through the study of experiential, cross-cultural learning, I have been able to build on my experiences abroad and integrate them further into my understanding of the world. Description of Study Purpose The 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, immersion experience in a non-industrialized country. My own experience illustrates that a transformative effect can result from such an experience. The initial purpose of this study was to determine if transformation occurs, and to examine the nature of the outcomes of experiential, cross-cultural learning. This project investigated the elements of a transformative learning experience which are crucial to a student’s change process, while encouraging students to reflect on the ways in which their personal backgrounds, knowledge, and values have affected their experiences abroad, as well as the process of change. Through the investigation of the progression and composition of transformative experiential learning, this study has endeavored to explore ways in which this type of learning can be used to lead students 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. I have not encountered any narratives of experiential learning as told from the student 27 perspective. Many narratives study life history and learning, but none explore stories of structured experiential education. They are noticeably absent in this field in particular, as we can only benefit from hearing the voices of students describe their processes of learning through 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 to research experiential learning. Site Selection I chose to interview participants of the School for International Training’s College Semester Abroad (CSA) program. Not only do I, as a researcher, have firsthand experience with this program, but it remains one of the few programs that provides post-secondary students with experiential cultural immersion experience in non-industrialized countries. In addition, the School for International Training (SiT) is part of a larger organization, World Learning (formerly the Experiment in International Living) which has offered study abroad programs for students since 1932. Thus, this is an established organization adept in conducting cultural immersion programs. When I first proposed this research, I planned to accompany a group of students to Zimbabwe 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 the learning process, this was not an option. As an alternative, I opted to conduct a year-after study of program participants in order to study the long term effects of this program. I did not choose to study a Canadian study abroad organization because I wanted to triangulate my research with my own experience, which was with the SIT CSA program. Also, I was well aquainted 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 feel that this study has many implications for Canadian study abroad programs that use this form of education, and many conclusions can be drawn from this study for any program of this sort. 28 Judging from my own experience, the intensity of cross-cultural experience in the setting of a developing country renders many possibilities for powerful, personal transformation for North American students. Students from western backgrounds are more challenged by life in non-industrialized countries, where they generally have to make more drastic 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 Participants SIT provided me with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all CSA students from the spring and fall programs of 1992 within non-industrialized countries around the world. I purposefully chose to interview students approximately one year after their study abroad experience in order to study the somewhat long term effects of this program on their lives. From this list, I selected 315 students, two thirds female and one third male. This gender balance was based on the gender ratio of SIT students overall. I sent a letter to the selected people introducing my study, a questionnaire, and an outline of the requirements for participation in the study. I sent questionnaires to students in two general areas of the United States in order to limit my own travel requirements for interviewing: California and New England. These are the two areas where SIT students were most concentrated, and they were convenient to me as a researcher. The questionnaire sought to acquire general information about the respondents and their experiences, to obtain updated information of addresses and phone numbers for SIT, and to inquire about the respondents’ availability and desire to participate in the study. Of the 315 questionnaires and letters distributed, 41 questionnaires were returned. This return rate can be explained by a number of factors of self-selection. Because the questionnaire functioned only as an introductory transaction and not as a source of data collection, I did not deem it necessary to send out reminder cards or to go to any measures to ensure a high return rate. Budget restrictions forced me to require respondents to provide their 29 own return postage. In addition, the addresses with which SIT supplied me were more than a year old. Some of these addresses were old college addresses of students, some were their parents’ addresses, some people had moved, and still others did not get their mail forwarded to them from their parents’ addresses to their school addresses. Some people were just finishing up school, and were facing final papers and exams, and others may have been engaging in additional 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 of their decision to participate in the study. Of the 41 questionnaires returned, 31 agreed to participate in the study. From these 31 respondents, I chose 12 people to interview based on their availability and location. This number was chosen because it seemed manageable for the proposed research. The gender ratio of the chosen participants was similar to the gender ratio of students in this program. I was unable to choose participants on the basis of ethnic background 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 12 participants in the study, 11 were European-American and one was Chinese-American. I did not question participants about their socio-economic backgrounds because this information was beyond the scope of this study. Data Collection Before I began to conduct my research, I carried out an informal pilot study in order to practice my interview techniques, test the relevance of the interview questions, and bring to light 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 interviewee collaborated with me on the interview structure and questions. I conducted one, in-depth interview with each participant ranging from two to four hours in length. I also collected program assignments and journal entries written during the study abroad programs from students. Approximately half the respondents lived in New England, and half in California, so I set up two sets of interviews accordingly. When I initially 30 contacted respondents, I asked them to make photocopies of their program assignments and journal entries that they felt comfortable showing me, and I promised to reimburse them for the 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 during the interview. In the end, the oral format was more successful than the written description format, so I used this in all cases. Although I did not send participants a list of interview questions ahead of time, I did tell them the general nature of the questions so they could reflect on their answers before the interviews. By a stroke of bad luck and some aging equipment, I lost the first two interviews because 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 through memory. Therefore, I was left with the written work of these two participants, which has been used to inform the analysis. After I completed the interviews in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut, I returned to California where I conducted another five interviews. I conducted the last interview in Seattle. I spent the next two months transcribing 2590-minute interview tapes. Fmm the transcripts, 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 narratives for approval. I asked them to check for accuracy and to comment on the way in which they were portrayed. Seven of the participants replied, and each updated and corrected mistakes in their narratives. None of the respondents expressed any major dissatisfaction with their narratives. Participants will receive a final copy of the thesis when it is completed. By obtaining this input from the participants of this study, I have attempted to create an atmosphere of participant inclusion in the research process. In addition to cooperating with my research, these students had an opportunity to explore and reflect on their own experiences, which may have been beneficial to their personal development. 31 Researcher Role This study grew out of my own experience as a CSA student in Zimbabwe. Not only did I have an extremely positive experience in this program, but I attribute a large part of my career direction and personal growth to my experiences in Zimbabwe and my travel experiences after the program. The CSA Zimbabwe program can therefore be seen as a critical experience in my life. Through this research, I have attempted to conduct a theoretical examination of my own and others’ experiences. Some schools of feminist methodology hold that theoretical examination should be rooted in the experience it endeavors to explain (Kirby and McKenna, 1989; Reinharz, 1983; Mies, 1983). Because of the personal nature of experiential learning, I believe that experiential education can greatly benefit from the perspective of a researcher with a intimate understanding of the process being explored. As a previous participant in the SIT College Semester Abroad program, I have a direct understanding of the process of reflection and the construction of meaning resulting from cross-cultural experience. In the interviews, I encouraged participants to reflect on their experiences and the social context in which they occurred, while at the same time recording a narrative of the recollection of cross-cultural experience. I used the insight of my own experience to understand this process further. Indeed, listening to the reflections of other students helped me to further my own reflection. In this study, I played the role of researcher as 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 my study, others may distrust my researcher bias. I believe that my experience as a SIT alumna grounds me in the social context of the study. While I have strong emotions associated with this program, my experiential insight into the program gives me an added advantage. I have used disciplined subjectivity and analysis of my own values, ideology, and experiences in an attempt 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 unbiased in the collection and analysis of my data. 32 It should be noted that this study is not an evaluation of the SIT College Semester Abroad 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 of the participants. I believe this equal footing encouraged an open and honest dialogue between the participants and myself. Discussion of Methodological Principles Feminist methodology and experiential methodology comprise the methodological principles which govern this study (Reinharz, 1979 & 1983). These two research models are analogous in many ways. For example, both models reject the positivist goal of objectivity and value neutrality in research, and the structural separation of theory and practice. These research models also critique hierarchical power relationships between the research subject and the 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 used as tools of repression against women and minorities. In order to give power to oppressed individuals and communities, these new research paradigms seek to explore and document the experiences of oppressed groups and groups who subsist on the margins of society (Kirby and McKenna, 1989, p. 17). Feminist researchers have proposed to replace the value-free, “unbiased” positivist paradigm with “conscious partiality” or “disciplined subjectivity”, in which researchers consciously explore and acknowledge their subjectivity and scrutinize the social context of their research. These researchers attempt to create relationships of trust between research participants and themselves. Feminist methodology criticizes hierarchical research relationships and encourages research in collaboration with the people in the community under investigation. This functions to give people who were previously objects of research power over research tools and results. Feminist methodology expands the conscientization process (Freire, 1970) by emphasizing the exploration of personal and social history by individuals and groups of women. This enables 33 women to create their own history from their real experiences, which can then be collectivized for 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 historically constructed, 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 ideological biases, and e) the structural and historical forces that informed the social construction under study,” (Anderson, 1989, p. 254-255). I have attempted to create this process in my study through detailed discussion of researcher and informant constructs, the research data, and reflections 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 be transformed (Anderson, 1989; Dudley, 1992; Kirby & McKenna, 1989). The collection and analysis of oral narrative of experience becomes a window on a broader social context (Cruikshank, 1990, p. 14). Through experiential learning, students develop theories based on their everyday action. In this study, participants were able to reflect on, theorize, and analyze their own experiences. In addition, analysis of these experiences led to critical reflection on the 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 research participants. It attempts to close the gap between the experience of the world and the theory that explains it (Smith, 1974, p. 7, as cited in Reinharz, 1983, p. 166). Interviews and narrative used in conjunction with the ideology of experiential methodology allow participants the opportunity to tell their own stories on their own terms (Anderson, 1991, p. 11). In some cases, such as described by Heron (1981), experiential methodology requires a complete partnership in research development between the researcher and co-researchers. However, in this study I use the definition of Reinharz (1983), who describes a collaborator role for project 34 participants, in which they contribute significantly to the development of the research, but not to the point of partnership. In the case of my research, partnership would have required too much of a commitment from the participants. Therefore, I used a design in which participants voiced their opinions about the presentation of the research, without the requirement of the work or commitment involved for a research team. They discussed, reflected on, and analyzed their experiences in the interviews, and had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the presentation of the data in the thesis. The effort to empower respondents and the study of their responses as narratives are closely linked. They are connected through the assumption...that one of the significant ways through which individuals make sense of and give meaning to their experiences is to organize them in a narrative form. As we shall see, various attempts to restructure the interviewee-interviewer relationship so as to empower respondents are designed to encourage them to find and speak in their own ‘voices’ (Mischler, 1986, p. 118, as cited in Anderson, 1989, p. 260). This study utilizes a case study approach in the inquiry of cross-cultural, experiential education. A number of inherent features of experiential learning accommodate the case study approach. These features include: the uniqueness of each individual’s experiences, highly interactive social settings and complex multiple realities that constitute student experiences, and the multidimensional objectives and goals of experiential learning programs and their students (Stevenson, 1985, p. 43). In this study, then, the phenomenon under investigation parallels the method of investigation. Once the U.S. students arrive in a non-industrialized society, they are economically privileged, regardless of their position at home. These students are not marginal in the sense of suffering exploitation. The opportunity to study abroad is a privilege accorded to very few people in the world. However, they do experience cultural marginality in the way that many qualitative researchers experience marginality as foreigners. Indeed, they find themselves in a position similar to that of a privileged researcher working on the margins of society. Students must acquire cultural and communication skills, and conduct research in their own area of interest, 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, often 35 through the use of journals. They develop meaningful relationships with the people of their new 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 class through cross-cultural experience, they develop their own theory from experience in order to make sense of their observations and experiences. As students move from marginality to engagement, ideally they lose their ethnocentricity and develop a new perspective of their own society and self. Researchers engaged in an experiential methodology undergo similar changes as a result 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 of that penetration is experiential analysis. (Reinharz, 1979, p. 367) It is evident from this comparison that the phenomenon and research methodology bear a great deal of resemblance to one another. I propose that this symmetry of the research question, the methodology, and the theoretical basis makes the methodology all the more appropriate for this study (Dudley, 1992, p. 327). “Methodology, theory, and ideology are intertwined. How you go about doing research is inextricably linked with how you see the world,” (Kirby and McKenna, 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 culture but on the phenomenon under study as well. As stated in the previous chapter, part of experiential 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 specialized activity. Our everyday lives teach us skills which we use to observe and reflect on our experience. We focus on problems, ask questions, collect information, and analyze and interpret ‘data’. We already ‘do research’ as we interact with the everyday world. In researching from the margins we are concerned with how research skills can enable people to create knowledge that will describe, explain, and help change the world in which they live. (Kirby & McKenna, 1989, p. 17) Some of the elements of feminist research methodology have been excluded from this study. Feminist methodology usually focuses on the experiences of women, while this study 36 examines the experiences of both women and men. Further, feminist research methodology emphasizes 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, and this study examines whether or not cross-cultural experiential learning catalyzes student participation in work towards community service and development. In addition, by encouraging critical reflection in the interview process, this study itself may have empowered students to consider their own roles in social change. Methodological Validity and Reliability In order to establish the credibility of the research design, it is critical to address the methodological considerations of reliability and validity. The first consideration is the reliability of the study, which refers to the factual accuracy of the data collection, as well as the consistency of the interpretation of the material. Interobserver reliability refers to the agreement between observers or researchers concerning the factual correctness of the data and interpretation. External reliability indicates the extent to which independent researchers could discover 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 number of 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 factual description in the study. By asking students to show me their journal entries from abroad, I was able to determine the accuracy of their memory of events, and also understand their feelings at the time of experience. These journal entries often verified what each person was actually thinking at the time of their experiences in the host country. Other techniques used to enhance external reliability are critical reflection on the social context and researcher role, and specific descriptions of participant selection, data collection and analysis strategies, and analytical constructs and premises. In qualitative research which explores the experiences of others, it is difficult to state the extent to which such studies can be replicated by other independent researchers. 37 Experience is as diverse as human beings. To generalize about experience is to dispute the variety 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 of experience and the tendency to generalize and compartmentalize experience and its many meanings. Data collected in this study is therefore limited in its application to other contexts of cross-cultural, experiential learning, and to the experiences and reflections of other students as well. However, there appear to be some experiential learning situations which are powerful for a majority of students. In addition, many students seem to have somewhat similar reactions to the program experience. Experiential learning and reflection are subjective processes. 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 the experiential, cross-cultural context, as well as critical elements of structured, cross-cultural experience. It also increases the understanding of the diversity of experience that exists in the field. The second major consideration of methodological credibility is the validity of the study. Internal validity of the research design, which resembles internal reliability, refers to the degree to which explanations of phenomena match the realities of the world. In other words, 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 study attempts to measure transformation in students over time. However, in the design of this study each participant is interviewed only once, and it relies on the self-reporting of each participant to determine whether or not change has occurred. This can result in weak evidence of the change process. In addition, at the time of the interview, approximately one year had passed since each participant had participated in the study abroad program. While this allowed 38 students to go through and reflect on the re-entry process, their memories may have been skewed to a certain extent regarding actual events. However, the scope of this study as well as logistical difficulties prevented me from triangulating this study with other ethnographic research techniques that might have increased its internal validity. Another important consideration for the validity of this study is my own researcher bias. “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 the study of experiential education, my enthusiasm towards the CSA program and my own experience may lead me to unconsciously disregard subjects’ experiences and interpretations which contradict my own. In order to guard against any problematic subjectivity, I have reflected on my own experience as a CSA student in Zimbabwe and my own subjectivity in a section of this chapter. In this way, I have attempted to confront my partiality, and refrain from placing my own expectations and judgments on the experiences of others. I have been committed throughout the course of this research to present the experiences of the participants with as little bias as possible on my part. In addition to my own reflection, I made an effort to encourage participants to openly and honestly express their own thoughts and interpretations concerning their experiences. Because of my experiential insight, I had the ability to relate with students in the language of experience, so to speak. I was able to understand certain emotions and situations to which a researcher without cross-cultural experience would be less likely to relate. These mutual meanings enhanced the clarity and candor of communication. I tried to facilitate an egalitarian relationship with the participants, and I believe our mutuality of experience contributed to this. I made an effort to create a dialogue between participants and myself, and shared some of my own experiences with them when it seemed appropriate. This study was not intended to evaluate the students or the CSA program. However, there was the danger of participants misinterpreting my intentions, thinking that I planned to assess their cultural sensitivity. To avoid this threat to internal validity, I told participants that I was interested in 39 all reflections on experience, negative as well as positive. This precaution hopefully reduced misunderstandings of my intentions and goals. In spite of this, it was impossible for me to feign objectivity, especially since I elicited certain responses from participants based solely on the structure of the interviews. What the researcher is allowed to see and whom the researcher is allowed to meet depends on who the researcher is perceived to be....Because of the researcher’s priorities and unavoidable omissions, these decisions result in data stamped 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 was only 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 are applicable across groups. Will the findings of this study enable others to understand similar situations, and can the understandings generated by this study be extended to subsequent research? Also, are the theoretical constructs, such as transformative and cross-cultural learning theories, applied appropriately to the narratives of experience? Three issues are vital to 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 described and defined so as to extend the findings to other studies. One thing that should be noted in this particular study is the selection process. Students were self-selected on a voluntary basis to participate in this study. It is unlikely that non-reflective students or students who had negative experiences volunteered for the study. While some of these students might have wished to explore the reasons for the negativity of their experiences, I assume that most of them did not care to dwell on the bad memories. Therefore, students who volunteered for the study most likely included only those most reflective students with positive experiences, which are not completely representative of all of CSA students. As a result, the typicality of the 40 experiences described, and therefore the phenomenon under investigation, is difficult to determine. Translatability is defmed as the degree to which the theoretical frameworks and research 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, and the clear definition of constructs. Translatability and construct validity are especially difficult to achieve in this study because of the ambiguous defmition of experiential education that exists within the field. Cross-cultural experiential education is slightly more specific and easier to pin down. However, this construct can occur at varying degrees, causing possible confusion. For example, can a two week wildlife safari be compared with a six week homestay, 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 to increase the translatability and construct validity of my study. Reflections on Researcher Subjectivity Writing about my own experience abroad has caused me to empathize with the participants in this study. It can be discouraging to see meaningful experiences compartmentalized in sections and analyzed in terms of the learning they represent. This is indeed a danger of research on experiential education. Students are placed in situations and experiences where they are challenged, often by crisis or critical incidents. These experiences almost inevitably have a deep effect, and such an impact is very difficult to articulate adequately. Nearly four years after my experiences in Zimbabwe, I am still in the process of reflection. This thesis has helped me to continue the learning process begun with my study abroad in Zimbabwe. I have learned a great deal about my own experience, as well as about experiential, cross-cultural learning, through this research study. I saw many of my own characteristics and experiences in the participants I interviewed. Seeing myself in others and hearing new perspectives and reflections on experiences similar to my own shed light on my 41 own 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 took place, 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 Zimbabwe frequently, and my perceptions have changed over time. A written document appears to stand still; the narrative appears fmished. It has been written, character’s lives constructed, social histories recorded, meaning expressed 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 the chronological events of tomorrow. Such writers know in advance that the task of conveying a sense that the narrative is unfinished and that stories will be retold and lives relived in new ways is likely to be completed in less than satisfactory ways. Furthermore, even when the writer is personally satisfied with the result he or she needs always to remember that readers may freeze the narrative with the result that the restorying life quality intended by the writer may 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 be aware of it throughout the data collection and writing of this thesis. This emotional investment proved in many ways to be a positive asset to the research, because it afforded me a sensitivity towards 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 transformative learning for me: As we engage in a reflective research process, our stories are often restoried and changed as we, as teachers and/or researchers, ‘give back’ to each other ways of seeing our stories. I tell you a researcher’s story. You tell me what you heard and what it meant to you. I hadn’t thought of it this way, am transformed in some important way, and tell the story differently the next time I encounter an interested listener or talk again with my participant. (p. 9) Reflections on Narrative A number of my personal values are evident in this thesis. These include an enthusiasm for the subject under study, and commitments to experiential education, community involvement, and social change. These commitments are clearly visible in my 42 analysis of the data. In addition to these values, my conception of narrative has significantly influenced my presentation of the data and analysis. Initially I set out to create a collection of stories of experience and reflection in cultural immersion. From the beginning of the study, I have been uncomfortable with the idea of an analysis of these stories. Granted, my bias already shapes the narratives because I have shaped the interview questions to which the participants responded, and I have chosen excerpts from the interview transcripts to include in the narratives. However, I felt very uncomfortable analyzing the experiences described by the participants in this study, and I felt strongly about letting the words of the participants speak for themselves. I endeavored to create these narratives holistically, in the form of a story, each participant’s story told from beginning to end with as many of their words and as few of mine as possible. At the end of these narratives I wrote a cross-case analysis of these experiences separate 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 between maintaining the stories told by participants and answering the research questions in a concise and analytical manner. My initial attempt at writing narrative can be described as an inductive mode 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 are used in exemplary ways to ifiustrate the thoughts of the narrative writer. In an inductive mode, data more clearly tell their own story. (Connelly and Clandinin, 1990, p. 11) Thus, I faced a dilemma between letting the participants’ stories and reflections be the heart of this research, and articulating my own thoughts and analysis on the data, which helped to clarify the research for the reader. The literature review, research question, and theoretical framework set up a goal that demanded a certain structure of narrative. In spite of my commitment to participant stories, I wrote the thesis in a demonstrative form of narrative for the sake of the coherence of the document. This was a dilemma 1 struggled with throughout the 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, while 43 Haig-Brown writes in a demonstrative mode. Personally , I am more drawn to Cruikshank’s narrative portrayal of her participants’ stories, where the researcher’s analysis is separate from the participants’ stories. Haig-Brown uses a methodology of storyteffing. However, in the demonstrative mode of narrative that she uses, the words of the respondents are minimal, and the excerpts are disjointed and full of omissions. As a reader and a researcher, I found this frustrating. When I think of narrative, I expect to read the words and hear the voice of the subject of the narrative. “Demonstrative” narrative does not resemble my conception of narrative. However, I realize that this is a personal preference and not necessarily the most comprehensible in terms of the goals of educational research. While my goal may have been to present the stories of students’ experiences and reflections, the research goal was to investigate an overall phenomenon. My focus was initially the individual stories, not the central analysis. One example of a dilemma I had in the analysis and presentation of narrative arose in the writing of this thesis. As I explained earlier in this chapter, I sent participants copies of their 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 gender relations. He made a number of statements regarding his attraction to Asian women, which I analyzed as cultural baggage typical of U.S. attitudes towards women of color. However, I had been tempted to let Chris’s words stand on their own without analysis from me, and let the readers draw their own conclusions. When I received Chris’s response in the mail, I was worried about his response to my portrayal of his experience. He was certainly kind and accepting of the narrative and did not mention my analysis, but I couldn’t help but feel that our relationship 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 not 44 have the same opportunity to challenge mine? Had he felt empowered enough in the research process 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 the research process. This was a recurring dilemma throughout the thesis in terms of my representation of the stories of other participants as well. Although I am still working through these methodological dilemmas, I have attempted to portray this research in a format that I feel comfortable with and which is representative of both individual and collective participant experience. My Experience as an SIT Student in Zimbabwe Background Another important aspect of my subjectivity is my own experience as a CSA student in Zimbabwe. I will attempt to describe some of my experiences through the lens of the central themes in this thesis. It is difficult to recall my exact reasons for wanting to study abroad in Zimbabwe. My parents had always placed an emphasis on open-mindedness and interest in other cultures and lifestyles. As a family we often took excursions to explore new places. My family, consisting of my parents, my older sister, younger brother, and myself first traveled abroad in the summer of 1985, when we went to Europe for three weeks. I was fifteen at the time. During this trip we toured England, France, and Italy. This was my first real exposure to different cultures and lifestyles. Although this cross-cultural experience occurred in First World settings, and I interacted with cultures and people strictly as a tourist, I was thrilled to discover new places, people, and cultures. This trip resulted in significantly opening my mind top 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 rich environment, one that functioned to further broaden my world view and awareness of various cultural perspectives. 45 In 1988, my older sister Iraveled to Spain for a year-long study abroad program. This program, through the University of California system, enabled students to take classes for two semesters at a university in Barcelona. During winter vacation of that year, my family went to Spain to visit her, and we spent a month traveling around the country. This was my second major 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 seemed like a way to expand my college education. However, my sister had taken Spanish all through high school and college. She had advanced language skills. I had taken some French in high school, but I retained little and took no language courses in college. My options for studying abroad seemed limited by this. I was not particularly interested in studying in Europe, the most common site of study abroad programs. However, I had always been interested in Africa as 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. The University of California study abroad program had only a few programs in Africa, none of which appealed to me. Their programs were two semesters long and consisted of study at a university in a foreign country. I was hesitant to commit to a nine month study abroad program, especially in Africa which seemed so completely different from what I knew. It also seemed silly to go all the way to Africa just to study at a university in a city, without getting to know the people of a country, in addition to students and academics. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a brochure for SITs College Semester Abroad program. SIT offered a number of programs in Africa consisting of cultural immersion, not just academic, university study. hi addition, their programs were 15 weeks, or one semester long, an easier commitment than two semesters. I chose to apply for the Zimbabwe program almost completely based on my intuition. It just seemed like a “cool” place to go, and I knew very little about the country. My parents hesitated when I first told them about the program, but they agreed to let me apply. By the time I was accepted I was very enthusiastic about the program. Once my parents saw how 46 eager I was to participate in the program, they agreed to let me go and to help me with the tuition. Ultimately, my family was very supportive. Important Relationships An important relationship for me during my stay in Zimbabwe was with Neil, another SIT student with whom I became involved about one month into the program. In fact, the relationship 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 those were characteristics I endeavored to develop in myself. He was very charming, and people seemed drawn to him when they met him. The first night we arrived in Zimbabwe, a group of us decided to investigate the local beer garden and live music spot around the corner from where we were staying. I hadn’t noticed Neil much beforehand, but on the walk over, we came across a man selling roasted caterpillars on the sidewalk. He asked us if we would like to buy some. Most of us hesitated, but Neil immediately stepped up and bought some. After he popped one in his mouth, he sat there with a look a disgust on his face, with saliva and caterpillar guts running down his face, and I was in complete awe. I had never seen someone so open and brave and ready to try new things. In spite of my admiration, the relationship had its downside as well. Neil was emotionally abusive, which resulted in a severe loss of self-esteem for me, in spite of the fact that my self-confidence theoretically should have evolved as a result of the experience. In many ways my confidence did grow, but the relationship caused me to feel more and more inadequate as time went on, and this proved to be a negative force in my experience. It was confusing to be torn between these two forces of positive and negative reinforcement. Another important relationship for me was my friendship with “Jenny”, another student on 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 be characteristic of Jenny. She seemed at peace with herself, and therefore was able to give a great deal of herself to other people. She was very giving, warm, and wise. Her friendship 47 and support was meaningful to me during my time in Zimbabwe and also after I returned to California. Many Zimbabwean people made deep impressions on me as human beings and members of Shona culture. During the workcarnp part of the program, I lived at a women’s agricultural cooperative for a week and worked as a tutor and teacher at a local elementary school. I was moved by the strength, determination, and grace with which the women at the cooperative lived their lives, as well as that of Mrs. Zakeo, the teacher I worked with in Chikwaka. My host mother in my homestay family also impressed me in this way, as well as many other women I encountered in Zimbabwe. These women seemed to have a great deal of vitality, spirit, and determination. Other women students on the SIT program impressed me with their strength as women and feminists. These encounters eventually led me to a dedication to feminism. During my ISP, I worked with a group of artists and art students. These people influenced me with their passion and reflectivity on their culture and artwork. Many people I came into contact with had a considerable impact on me. I was at an open and receptive point in my life, and this resulted not only in my impressionability but also in drastic change for myself. Critical Incident About one month into the program, we took a four day trip to a number of places around Zimbabwe. This was a trip of extremes and contradictions. Within a short time we were exposed to a multitude of aspects of Zimbabwean life. First, we went to Lake Kyle, a popular 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 and suddenly come across a random zebra or giraffe running along side our bus. Next, we visited the Great Zimbabwe. The Great Zimbabwe are the ancient ruins of a civilization similar to the Egyptian pyramids. For many years under white rule, the country’s colonizers tried to cover 48 up evidence that a black civilization had built the Great Zimbabwe. Thus, the ruins became a symbol for the colonization of the Zimbabwean people (Frederikse, 1982). After leaving the Great Zimbabwe, we visited two mission secondary schools. The last part 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 some of the families. The next day, we had tea with Garfield Todd, a former Prime Minister of Rhodesia who aided the Zimbabwean rebels in the liberation struggle. This contrast of experiences threw in to question some of my own beliefs and values. I wrote about this crisis in a cultural analysis paper while I was in Zimbabwe. The following quote contains excerpts from this paper. [Note: our assignment was to write these papers in a description, interpretation, evaluation format.] Cultural Analysis Paper Description: Three separate discussions have culminated in my mind to make me question my reactions to Zimbabwe, both its people and culture. The first conversation occurred during dinner with the ex-freedom fighters at the agricultural co-op. The second incident was out discussion with Sir Garfield and Lady Grace Todd. The third conversation occurred in our debriefing discussion after we returned from Masvingo. Each of these situations sparked different reactions from me which I feel are indicative of my interpretation of Shona culture. At the Vukuzenzele Ex-Freedom Fighters Agricultural Coop [sic] we had all gotten together in a group to be dropped off at various houses in pairs for dinner....The walls, ceiling and floor were all made of cement. Almost nothing hung from the walls. A few objects rested on the mantelpiece, but for the most part the room was barren. The sun was setting and the room got progressively darker as time went on. One candle lit the room....From the moment I entered the house, I switched into a quiet listening and observing mode. I tried to listen to what the family had to say. Joyce’s husband told us about Garfield Todd and all the help that the Todds had given the co-op as well as his own family. His son had meningitis and was only able to get medical attention after the Todds intervened... .He expressed a lot of admiration and respect 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. They live in a luxurious home with a beautiful garden and view of the river, quite a contrast from the co-op. They served us an elaborate tea with pate and cookies and Garfield Todd spoke about his efforts during the liberation struggle and how the people respected him and his property....On Tuesday morning we all gathered 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 the Todds and asked how they ‘excuse themselves’ for the lifestyle they live. 49 Another person brought up the fact that they had donated the land that the agricultural co-op had been built on. The response was that the Todds were simply giving back to the people land that was rightfully theirs. The true character 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 at Joyce’s house....I think I may have been in shock and I think that while I was so quiet and trying hard to listen to what they had to say, I absorbed little of what was said and done. It was almost as if I drifted in and out of consciousness and just took in bits and pieces of what was going on. I think that in actuality I didn’t want to know or hear or understand the conditions in which they were living. I felt in shock. The fact that they had no electricity and that they lived in darkness really blew me away....However, I didn’t and still don’t know how to react to the lifestyle of Joyce’s family. On the one hand, I have so much admiration for those people. Their perseverance, determination and spirit really impressed me. However, from the standards of American culture their lifestyle was to be pitied. I felt it was something that I couldn’t understand and that made me uncomfortable. I don’t understand how people with such clear, determined, righteous paths in front of them could be living in stone houses in the dark. If I really let myself feel for and think about these people I feel terrible about the stone houses, the lack of electricity and the rotting crops. My question is: Where the hell do they get such quiet vitality? What if I’m placing western judgments on them while they are accustomed to dark stone houses and ‘hardship’? Then my feelings are completely invalid. I even hope that that is true because I could picture less suffering, were that the case. I resent feeling pity 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, the tea and the pate, and the comfort and ease of the Todds’ lifestyle. I was open and eager to hear all about the Todds noble exploits. I immediately romanticized the Todds and their lifestyle. I felt so at ease, relaxed and happy after 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 mentioned that I really enjoyed meeting the Todds, which sparked the debate about whether or not their efforts to help the Zimbabwean people were truly noble or merely trivial. When the question was raised of how the Todds’ excuse themselves’ for their lifestyle I became very angry. I thought to myself, ‘How hypocritical! It’s not right for us to ask other people more accomplished than ourselves to justify their lifestyle, especially when each of us has just spent a great deal of money for one semester of our education.’ I resented someone confronting the Todds, the people who I thought of as noble and great. The more I thought about it, however, the more confused I became. I wondered how the co-op members really felt about the Todds’ contributions to the co-ops and I wondered about the actual motives behind the Todds’ efforts during the liberation struggle. Most of all I wondered about my own psychological workings and impressions. Why did I shut out the people of the co-op. try to ignore them and turn them off, while I so readily put the Todds up on a pedestal? Was this my reaction 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 of course I wonder if I am really that shallow or if there is more cultural baggage and emotion behind my reactions. I am fascinated with the ability of the Shona people to be so incredibly polite and respectful. I admire the Shona philosophies of human relations. The 50 Shona fully acknowledge and gratify the contributions of the Todds and could be 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 a contradiction in terms. I don’t want to feel pity for the people at the co-ops. I only want to feel admiration. At the moment, with the rotting crops, so much of the 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 co op members as well as the Todds are to be commended and respected, and I feel unqualified to make judgments on their character and motivations. It would be too self-righteous of myself or anyone else to confront anyone concerning excuses and justifications of their own lifestyles. This is a good example of how cross-cultural experiences can challenge a person’s value system and meaning perspectives. It is also an example of emotionally engaged learning. My identity was tied to my perceptions of the Todds, and when someone questioned their right to their lifestyle, it forced me to question my own. Through experiences such as these and various readings and group discussions we had, I started to realize that the ease and luxury of my lifestyle was directly related to the poverty and hardship faced by the people at the agricultural cooperative, which was tied in to international relations between First and Third World countries, and global economics and politics. Transformations There were many striking characteristics of Shona culture that I recognized and admired. I respected the importance of kinship and family support, and the way people were taught to treat one another with kindness, hospitality and generosity. However, this was drastically contrasted with the ten year anniversary of the liberation struggle through which the country gained its independence from white colonial rule. The anniversary called up memories of this violent and bloody war, and it was powerful to meet people who had literally fought for the liberation of their country and people. There were many instances when I was struck by the inner strength of the people I met. I was also impressed with the reflexivity of Shona people on culture and the influence of westernization on their lives. The many writers and artists that I met in Zimbabwe drove this point home, and I continue to struggle with the complex concepts of culture, westernization, and mental and physical colonization. 51 My experiences in Zimbabwe opened my mind in many ways. Most significantly, they changed my understanding of education. I had decided long ago that I wanted to work with children in my career. However, I was disillusioned with the field of education because I had had many terrible experiences with incompetent teachers, and I feared having such a negative impact on children myself. I decided before I went to Zimbabwe that I would never become a teacher. However, through my experiences as a tutor and teacher in the workcamp and my reflections on education, I started to consider becoming a teacher, and I realized that there were alternative ways of making education a positive force rather than a oppressive one. I felt very at home with experiential education. SIT was one of my first introductions to this form of learning, and I was intrigued by it. For me it was a potent way to learn, and through experiential 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 education in Zimbabwe, specifically on the concepts of mental colonization and decolonization. We learned how the colonial government had used the education system as a way to control the masses and stay in power by using tactics such as creating elites, encouraging competition, and inculcating inferiority, among others. During the liberation struggle and after liberation, Zimbabweans created their own education system to counteract the effects of mental colonization (Chung, 1987). This was my first exposure to the idea that education can be used to end oppression in society. It seemed completely contradictory to my own understanding of the goals of education, and it revolutionized my ideology as well as my career goals. I began to see many similarities between the principles of experiential education and those of mental decolonization, and I realized that both could be used for emancipation and the advancement of democracy and equality in society. Conclusion I have chosen four relevant areas of the experiences of participants for discussion in this thesis: student backgrounds, important relationships, critical incidents and crisis, and 52 transformations. I have divided the discussion of my own experience into these sections as well. By examining the background of each participant, the reader can comprehend the ways in which background has influenced students’ decisions to study abroad. Likewise, because relationships have such an important bearing on experiential learning, by exploring important relationships of each participant during the semester abroad the reader can understand ways in which these relationships shaped students’ experiences, reflections and transformations. The chapter on critical incidents and crisis describes significant experiences students had and their reflections on these experiences. The chapter on transformation describes and discusses ways in which students changed as a result of these experiences. Before examining the experiential, cross-cultural learning process, it is important to understand the format of the study abroad program in which the students were involved. The following chapter is an introduction to the organization World Learning. It gives a brief history of the organization, and describes the various elements of the program. This description of logistics sets the stage for the discussion of the learning process. 53 Chanter Three The School for International Training’s College Semester Abroad Program Introduction The School for International Training’s (SIT) College Semester Abroad (CSA) program is used as a framework in this study through which to research experiential, cross-cultural learning. While this thesis is not a program evaluation of the College Semester Abroad program, CSA provides a context within which to examine this learning process. All of the students interviewed for this study participated in CSA programs around the world. This chapter presents background information on the organization which shaped and directed both my own and the students’ experiences. The Organization The Experiment in International Living was founded in 1932. It was renamed “World Learning” on the sixtieth anniversary of the organization in 1992. The Experiment was founded in an attempt to further peace and understanding between various cultures and nations by sending small groups of Americans overseas to live with families. Today, World Learning is composed of three main divisions: the School for International Training, Citizen Exchange and Language Programs, and Projects in International Development and Training. The Citizen Exchange and Language Programs division stems from the original concept of The Experiment in International Living, and its programs are based on the “homestay” concept of cross-cultural exchange. The School for International Training was founded in 1964, as the academic arm of the organization. This department is geared towards allowing university students to earn academic credit, while also incorporating the homestay concept. The focus of this study is the College Semester Abroad program, which falls within the division of the School for International 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 of World Learning’s organizational structure: 54 World Learning Inc.. Dig ZZesterAbZ] Since 1932, World Learning has had more than one million participants in its international education programs. Currently, the organization offers 260 programs in nearly 70 nations with more than 54,000 participants (World Learning, 1993). The School for International 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 National Representations of The Experiment in International Living, which was established in Switzerland in 1954. “The Federation has held consultative status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization since 1958, with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 1978, and with the Council of Europe since 1981” (World Learning, 1993). The founding concept of The Experiment was “to learn the culture and language of another country by living as a member of one of its families” (World Learning 1993). The mission statement of World Learning is “to enable participants to develop the knowledge, 55 skills, and attitudes needed to contribute effectively to international understanding and global development” (World Learning, 1993). This continues to be the central focus of the organization. History The Experiment in International Living was founded by Donald Watt in an attempt to test the hypothesis that human relationships between cultures, based on the knowledge of various ways of living and thinking, could result in mutual understanding and peace between nations. He hoped to create groups of potential leaders in countries around the world who knew from personal experience that international understanding on a personal level was conceivable. Watt’s own cross-cultural experience included work as a YMCA secretary in the British Indian Army in Mesopotamia, and travel, study, and work in Europe. Watt experimented with his theory in the summer of 1932 by taking a group of 14 boys from the United States to live with approximately 35 Belgian, German, Swiss, Chinese, and French boys 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 that summer, Watt deemed his first experiment a failure. He had expected the American boys to improve in fluency of the European languages they were studying. However, since there were other speakers of each boy’s native language in residence, cross-language communication was not a necessity. Therefore, groups of friends based on nationality and culture formed within the 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 different nationalities participated in an activity isolated from the rest of the group. From the first experiment, Watt concluded that three languages were too many within a group to establish complex 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 in private homes in a town in one European country. Watt pictured families which included 56 young people of approximately the same age as the Americans, so that they would have the opportunity to develop close friendships. Ideally, this environment would force students to learn the language of their host families more quickly than in a classroom or camp environment. 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 remarkably different from the first. The new experiment involved both young women and men of high school 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 International Living 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 was considered a success by Watt, and became the model for future programs. Members of this group managed to overcome language barriers, and generally focused on creating cross- cultural friendships instead of enclosing themselves in groups determined by nationality. The Experiment was much more than intellectual schooling, but an emotionally engaging experience. Watt’s goal was to create the type of experience that would be influential throughout the student’s life (Peters, 1957). Although Watt was working outside of the traditional academic world, he considered The Experiment to be a form of education. However, The Experiment was largely ignored by educators because traditional educational practices, such as lectures, textbooks, and exams, were not used in its programs. Educators also distinguished between intellectual and emotional education, and viewed The Experiment as the latter. Watt’s criterion for a successful program was whether or not the student had a good time. This was an unacceptable method of evaluation from the standpoint of traditional educators. Watt also faced defeat when he attempted to convince the United States army during World War II of the value of The Experiment. In reaction to the rumors of strife between American servicemen and people 57 of other countries in which the U.S. army was present, Watt tried to persuade the government to take advantage of The Experiment in order to improve international relations. However, he was unable to convince any influential governmental figures of his ideas (Peters, 1957). Watt’s experiment again faced opposition from outsiders when the politics of Americans conflicted with those of the country of study. For example, in the 1930’s, The Experiment had a program in Germany. However, many people in the United States opposed Hitler’s Nazi regime, and felt it was morally wrong for The Experiment to have a German program. Opponents argued that young people had difficulty distinguishing between propaganda 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 for Hitler’s regime. However, Watt maintained that “if you want to make peace, start to create understanding where misunderstanding is greatest,” (Peters, 1957, p. 116). In spite of Watt’s intentions, he was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer. Interestingly, one of The Experimenters in Germany in 1934 was Robert Sargent Shriver, who went on to become the president 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 his connections with The Experiment (Peters. 1957; Leitch, 1993). As The Experiment in International 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, Gordon Bryce, in the development of the Peace Corps. Once the Peace Corps was established, The Experiment became the training ground for language and cultural training for new Peace Corps volunteers. Many of these languages had never before been written down. As the Peace Corps developed, 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 in Europe were swiftly evacuated. As Europe was now inaccessible to The Experiment, Watt began to explore Central and South America for possible host countries for Experimenters. 58 Watt initially received discouragement from Americans, who believed that people from the United 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 American countries. 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, but only 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, in 1941, groups were also introduced to Guatemala, Brazil, and Colombia. With the establishment of these programs, it was proven that The Experiment was able to succeed in Latin America (Peters, 1957). As The Experiment grew, Watt continued to face opposition when American politics conflicted with those of a country in which there were Experimenters. In 1951, at the peak of anti-communism in the United States, The Experiment sent its first group of students to Yugoslavia, a communist country. Watt encountered a great deal of resistance, but he argued that The Experiment was no longer an American organization, as it had offices all over the world. Therefore, it could not comply with the foreign policy of any one country. Each country’s citizens were limited only to the countries for which their governments would grant passports. The Experiment began to adopt the outlook of an international organization, and claimed that subservience to the foreign policies of any one country was wrong for an organization that promoted peace and harmony among nations (Peters, 1957). Eventually, Watt gained deserved recognition. In 1951, The Experiment signed a contract with the State Department to provide U.S. homestays for German and Austrian Fulbright scholars. In 1952, the Ford Foundation awarded The Experiment a grant for the 59 Community Ambassador division of the organization, which provided for community exchange between different countries. In 1954, Watt was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Vermont (Peters, 1957). In addition to Peace Corps cultural and language training, the Experiment also assisted various colleges and universities in the development of their own study abroad programs. The Experiment helped institutions by setting up contacts and host families in a given country and by providing guidance in program structure, language training, and student orientation for overseas programs. Once a study abroad program was established, The Experiment pulled out to allow the institution to run its own program (Wallace, 1990). In the early 1960’s, three demands from students and the international community were recognized by The Experiment. First, as the organization expanded, short-term, summer exchange programs became less attractive to college students, and The Experiment began to be dominated by high school students. College students began to look for study abroad programs for which they could receive academic credit. Second, there was a demand by former Experimenters and Peace Corps volunteers for a graduate program based on the goals of The Experiment. Third, The Experiment received requests from organizations such as UNICEF for recommendations of well-trained people who were interested in working in the international community. In response to these demands, the School for International Training (SIT) was founded as a branch of The Experiment in International Living in 1964. What began as a master’s program in International Career Training later evolved into a master’s program in Intercultural Administration in 1970. At the same time, a Maste?s of Arts in Teaching program was initiated for the training of language teachers. After both master’s programs were well established, in 1972, the World Issues program was started for undergraduates. This two year program was the equivalent of the International Career Training program, but at the undergraduate level. The College Semester Abroad program was also developed through SIT to offer opportunities for college students to earn academic credit through study abroad (Wallace, 1990). 60 Although the organization had long before proven WatCs original hypothesis, educators considered each student’s experience abroad to be an “experiment”, and hence the organization’s original name remained intact for 60 years. However, on its sixtieth anniversary in 1992, the name was changed to “World Learning” to better reflect the diversity of the organization’s activities. The name “The Experiment in International Living” continues to be used today to describe the traditional homestay-based programs. College Semester Abroad The College Semester Abroad is a 16 college credit, international, and interdisciplinary program, which offers experiential immersion in countries throughout the world. The program uses both academic and experiential instruction techniques in order to promote international competence in its students. Each program contains six to 25 students, and is composed of seven 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 Methods and Techniques in Field Study Seminar, an independent study project, and program evaluation. Cross-cultural orientation introduces students to the host culture, the concept of experiential learning, and cross-cultural understanding and communication. The orientation begins with packets of reading material and writing exercises for the students during pre departure and travel time to the country. Students are given country-specific information to read, as well as a number of articles to advance reflection on their own culture from the perspective of an outsider, thus beginning the process of challenging the meaning perspectives of 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 students receive intensive language training during the program. This helps students to participate in and learn about their host culture. The language training consists of formal classroom instruction from three to six hours per day for two to five weeks, as well as practice in the field. 61 The homestay plays a central role in the program. Students temporarily join a family from the host culture, with whom they develop personal relationships, learn to function in everyday life and culture, and practice language skills. This aspect of the program relies entirely on experiential learning. The length of the homestay varies, and sometimes there are a couple of homestays to contrast rural and urban life. The Life and Culture Seminar instructs students in the history, politics, geography, economics, arts, humanities, and social anthropology of the host country. This is a rigorous academic aspect of the program. The fifth program component, the Methods and Techniques of Field Study Seminar, teaches students to conduct field study within the country’s setting for the independent study project. This seminar trains students in the practice of field study, giving them methods for investigation for the independent study project. Students write cultural analysis papers concerning their reflections on cross-cultural interactions they have within the host culture. The independent study project allows students to conduct a field study on any topic of choice concerning the host country. The project requires written and oral presentation of the completed project. Some CSA programs also include a work camp and a study tour. During the work camp, students live in a rural area and contribute their efforts to projects initiated by local 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 the program is the program evaluation. This includes the directors’ evaluation of the student, the students’ 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 discuss the 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 or country, some programs are specialized. Some examples of specialized programs are the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation program in Tanzania, the Comparative Ecology program in Ecuador, the Women and Development program in Jamaica, the Peace and Conflict Studies program in Ireland, and others. 62 This brief chapter provides a context for the students’ experiences presented in the next four chapters. Furthermore, the explanation of the CSA program should clarify some of the references made by the students. We now turn to the backgrounds of the participants in this study, focusing on the reasons behind their decisions to study abroad. 63 Chapter Four: Participant Backgrounds Introduction This chapter is a review of the backgrounds of each of the participants in this study. It helps to familiarize the reader with each student, their couniry of study, and a brief personal history, and frames the discussion of the learning process in the following four chapters. Participant backgrounds are significant in understanding these learning experiences, because each learner brings a continuum of experience and meaning perspectives to any given learning situation upon which to base reflection and perspective transformation. Although the scope of this study precludes observation of meaning perspectives previous to the study abroad experiences, an examination of student backgrounds allows the reader to recognize the identity of each participant from which to understand their experiences. Individual identity is a vital to an understanding of experiential learning; the individual cannot be separated from the experience. 64 Ta b l e 1 : A S u m m a r y o f G e n e r a l I n f o r m a t i o n o f P a r t i c i p a n t s I f ) C D N A M E C O U N T R Y G E N D E R f l A C k f l P f l l I N f l i i n n c r y I S P T O P I C M A J O R ( ‘ A D _ _ _ _ ‘ r s S u s a n T a n z a n i a F e m a l e S t r o n g f a m i l y t i e s ; 3 w e e k s , A r u s h a T u r t l e c o n s e r v a t i o n E n v i r o n m e n t a l E n v i r o n m e n t a l H o s t e d e x c h a n g e P r o j e c t S t u d i e s E d u c a t i o n s t u d e n t s ( A n t h r o p o l o g y ) M e g a n E c u a d o r F e m a l e N o p r e v i o u s t r a v e l 3 . 5 w e e k s , I b a r r a S i n g l e M o t h e r s i n A n t h r o p o l o g y W o m e n ’ s H e a l t h e x p e r i e n c e 3 . 5 w e e k s . O u i t o R u r a l E c u a d o r G r e g E c u a d o r M a l e S u m m e r L a n g u a g e 3 w e e k s , I b a r r a R a n g e r f o r D r y T r o p - L a t i n A m e r i c a n E n v i r o n m e n t a l I m m e r s i o n i n M e x i c o 3 . 5 w e e k s , Q u i t o i c a l F o r e s t R e s e r v e S t u d i e s , ( E n v . C o n s e r v a t i o n G e o l o g y ) L i s a K e n y a F e m a l e N o p r e v i o u s t r a v e l 3 w e e k s , N a i r o b i M u s l i m G i r l s ’ E d u c - S o c i o l o g y a n d S o c i a l W o r k e x p e r i e n c e a t i o n . K e n y a n C o a s t A n t h r o p o l o g y A n g e l a B a l i F e m a l e F i r s t m e m b e r o f f a m i l y 8 w e e k s , P e l i a t a n O b s e r v a t i o n s o f a M u s i c , W o m e n C a r e e r C o u n s e l i n g t o g o a b r o a d S h i n d u P r i e s t e s s S t u d i e s B r i a n T i b e t a n M a l e P a r e n t s e m i g r a t e d f r o m 2 w e e k s , D h a r a m n s n l a O b s e r v a t i o n s o f R e l i g i o n M e d i c i n e S t u d i e s C h i n a , s i b l i n g s s t u d i e d 1 w e e k , K a t h m a n d u T i b e t a n T r a d i t i o n a l a b r o a d , n o t r a v e l e x p . 4 w e e k s . W . N e p a l D o c t o r E m i l y B o l i v i a F e m a l e S u i n n i e r E x p e r i m e n t 8 w e e k s T h e M o n n o n C h u r c h R e l i g i o n a n d I n t ’ l R e l a t i o n s / p r o g r a m i n M e x i c o C o c h a b a i n b a i n B o l i v i a I n t ’ l S t u d i e s T e a c h i n g l ) a i i i e l l e M o r o c c o F e m a l e S u m m e r E x p e r i m e n t 3 m o n t h s , R a b a t M o r o c c a n W o m e n ’ s A n t h r o p o l o g y L a w a n d o r o g r a m . S w i t z e r l a n d C o o p e r a t i v e s A n t h r o p o l o g y N i c o l e Z i m b a b w e F e m a l e 1 y e a r A F S p r o g r a m 6 w e e k s , l i a r a r e Z i m b a b w e ’ s R u r a l S o c i a l S t u d i e s , S e c o n d a r y i n G h a n a 6 w e e k s , C h i k w a k a S e c o n d a r y S c h o o l A f r i c a n S t u d i e s E d u c a t i o n S y s t e m J o d i e C a m e r o o r i F e m a l e 1 y e a r A F S p r o g r a m 6 w e e k s , D s c h a n g T h e B i k u t s i M u s i c A n t h r o p o l o g y M u s i c / C o m m . i n T u r k e y 2 w e e k s . Y a o u n d e T r a d i t i o n D e v e 1 o m e n t J a m e s I n d i a M a l e T r a v e l e x p e r i e n c e 1 0 d a y s , U d a i p u r T h e 1 - l i n d u D e i t y R e l i g i o n E l e m e n t a r y a s t o u r i s t G a n e s h a E d u c a t i o n C h r i s N e p a l M a l e 1 s u m m e r i n E n g l a n d 1 w e e k , T a p l e j u n g C u l t u r a l S t u d y P a p e r P h i l o s o p h y I n t ’ l D e v e l o p m e n t / 5 w e e k s . K a t l l m a n d t ! o f N e p a l e s e V i l l a g e E n v . C o n s e r v a t i o n Susan Susan participated in the CSA Wildlife Ecology program in Tanzania during the fall semester 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, Susan has had a number of supportive and intimate relationships. She has a very close relationship with her family, which includes two sisters, one older and one younger. In addition, during the time 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 family home. This was a warm and comfortable setting for both of us. Her upbringing has had a deep 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 up here 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 a really solid, strong background. I’m not saying that this is perfect for everybody, but for me this has been a real pillar, a base in my life that has made it easier, it made me more capable to go and attempt things that I don’t know if I would necessarily feel comfortable or secure doing. So in a way it can prove as a benefit, or a negative effect. It was really hard for me to leave to go to Vermont. 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 come back, just having a home to come back to no matter where I go. It’s been really reassuring. It’s like another one of those things that it’s hard to figure out how much it effects me in my everyday life, and how much I would be different if I didn’t have such a strong sense of place growing up. But I defmitely fmd that living here, you can’t tell now, but you can’t see any other houses from this house. This is 40 acres of property, and my parents grew up farming. And there’s sheep and animals out back. And I defmitely feel like that gave me my environmental tilt. For a career, leaning towards environmental education because I grew up appreciating it more on a one to one basis than I think other people have the opportunity to do. And then becoming familiar with one particular area of forest, and then there’s two huge lakes like a mile down the street. I’ve used them for drinking water a couple times, and there’s no trespassing on them and they’re really peaceful. I walk around down there, and it’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 of factors. The program is very popular at the University of Vermont, especially in the environmental studies department. Susan also mentioned that the fact that her hometown is 66 primarily a Caucasian, homogeneous community led her to seek out different places and cultures. Finally, her family had a history of hosting foreign exchange students. Their support of cross-cultural learning and study abroad encouraged Susan to participate in a program herself. I definitely had had the influence earlier. We had a number of exchange students who lived here. My sister had been an exchange student. When I was younger, my sister’s two years older than me, well one of them. And she went to the Philippines for a year. And then we had a Filipino man come and live here for a year when she was gone. And after that there were about two others that followed. French and Norwegian exchange students. So I had had cross- cultural experiences already. But it was definitely a much different step, me leaving and going somewhere else... .And now my little sister’s an exchange student in France. Not right now, but they have this program. My high school’s really 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’s house, 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, her familiar surroundings, and her culture. I was just ready for change. I was just ready to take that step I guess. I grew up here, I went to U. Mass., Dartmouth which is a half an hour away. So I never really left home for my first two years of college. And I had been with Ben since my senior year in high school. Then I moved to Vermont. And I think moving 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 hour drive. And I gained some independence, but I was still somewhat secure. And then I think being up there for a year kind of built up my independence a little bit and my strength to feel like I could take the step to do something more drastic, which I just chose to go to Africa. Kind of out of the blue I think. Like inside I was building up to it, but no one really knew about it. but I knew inside that 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 three semesters, and my first senior semester was abroad. So I definitely built up to being able to be ready to take that first step. But now that I’ve done that, I feel like I could do it again, no problem. It wouldn’t be no problem, but I’d feel confident in the decision. Where as before, even after I made the decision, I kept questioning myself as it came closer. (p. 40-41) When I spoke with Susan, she was preparing to write her senior thesis on children’s environmental literature. The main highlights of Susan’s program were a three week homestay in Arusha, a one week workcamp during which students build a water system for a vifiage, 67 three 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 spent working with a turtle conservation project in Zanzibar. Megan Like Susan, Megan participated in a specialized SIT program, the CSA Comparative Ecology program in Ecuador. Megan grew up on Long Island, New York, and recently graduated from the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington with a degree in anthropology. We met for the interview in a busy Long Island cafe. She initially became interested in SIT her first year in college, when she enrolled in an environmental studies course. The teaching assistant for the course had recently returned from the CSA Comparative Ecology 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, and she wanted to learn more about life in a non-industrialized country. She also had an urge to get away from her college campus. She knew early on that she wanted to participate in the CSA 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 the decision to go abroad. She has one brother who is three years older than her, whom she describes as conservative and, “scared to go out of the country.” Megan recalled her parent’s reaction 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 was absolutely NOT allowed to go. I could go to Europe, and I could go to Costa Rica, but I could not go. And I remember I had this one conversation sophomore year on the phone with my father and, it was one of those annual huge fights. I was crying, like, ‘You have to let me do this!’ And my father was like, ‘I’m sorry you can’t.’ It was beyond my control. There was nothing I could do. 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 though they had already researched. My dad had called all the State departments. ...And I can see now, in retrospect, in speaking to people and telling them I’m going and 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 it in a very practical way, and I think, I guess dissuaded some of their views. And then we went back to his place and he showed us some of his slides, and I 68 remember he had a picture of his homestay family and they were like so normal. His mother was a doctor I think. And they were well dressed, and they just looked very cosmopolitan. That surprised me as well as my parents. I think that shot really helped. My dad was like, ‘Oh my gosh, the people look like us a little bit. Maybe iCs normal.’ And she was a doctor. She was a DOCTOR. You didn’t hear in the States of women being a doctor, which is sort of like highly esteemed to a certain extent in Ecuador. So pretty much after that I never asked again. It was just like I was going. I just talked about when I was going. 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 extended period of time to travel and study Spanish. Some of the highlights of Megan’s program were two homestays, each three and a half weeks long in Ibarra and Quito, a field study in the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, the cloud forest, and the Galapagos, and an ISP on single mothers in rural Ecuador. Megan spent two weeks traveling in Ecuador after her program ended. Greg Greg 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 in environmental geology at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Greg grew up in southern California. 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 to me” (Greg, preliminary questionnaire). He started taking Spanish his sophomore year in college, and the following summer he participated in a Spanish immersion program in Mexico for one month. He said that the Mexico program helped him to improve his Spanish dramatically, 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 it would be a perfect opportunity for him to further his two main academic interests. He participated 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, and it was really difficult. I reevaluated why I was studying Japanese and I what I wanted out of my learning experience, my educational experience, my educational goals. And I decided that I really didn’t want to learn Japanese 69 anymore because Japanese only opens up a lot of opportunities for business and money making. And I decided that I wanted to get into Third World development and I wanted to try to do something with my life to help other people 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 to learn Spanish. And I could have either majored in IR, International Relations or like Econ., or Latin American Studies. And I liked Latin American Studies the most because it concentrated more on cross-cultural aspects. It concentrated more on history, even though you got your economics and stuff like that. But it was a lot less Poli. Sd. and it was more language and more culture and I got to study 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, in Ibarra and Quito. He also had a field study in the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, the cloud forest, and the Galapagos. For his ISP, he worked as a park ranger for a dry tropical forest reserve. Lisa Lisa participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Kenya in her junior year of college. She recently graduated from college with a degree in sociology and anthropology. At the time of this interview, she lived in Connecticut with her parents and was working as an intern in an office for Human Services. The interview took place in Lisa’s attic bedroom of her family’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 something more hands on. Just learning directly and not going to classes and not having someone tell me what I should be learning. So there was that part of it, like academically or educationally, but I also wanted to just go to kind of find out about another culture and challenge myself and I guess just do all those stereotypical things. I wanted to live out of a backpack and just get away from America 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 something totally 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 traveled extensively when they were younger. While Lisa was in Kenya, her brother spent two weeks on a high school trip to Belize. In spite of their concurrent cross-cultural experiences, they had difficulty communicating with one another about their trips. 70 [Wje were really not together that much to talk about it. And we sort of tried to talk about it but I think it was very different. He went with three of his best friends and about 10 kids from high school, so he knew everyone. Plus they were only there for two weeks. And I just think that makes a big difference. I felt 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 just so much worse,’ or whatever, you know. [laugh] (p. 2) Lisa does not consider much about her background to be relevant to her decision to study 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 volunteers for a Human Services Office. She also worked as a program assistant at an inner city after school program for “at risk” sixth and seventh graders. In January, she began a maste?s of social work part time at Columbia University in New York. She recently decided to postpone graduate 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 water supply, and an Independent Study Project on Muslim girls’ education on the Kenyan coast. Angela Like Lisa and Megan, Angela had no previous cross-cultural experience. In fact, she was the first member of her family to travel abroad and obtain a passport. Angela graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in May of 1993 with a double major in music and women’s studies. After fmishing her degree, she moved to Oaldand, California and recently started a job as a program assistant for women in skilled trades, through which she does career development work for a program which trains women to enter non-traditional careers. She is interested in starting a career in career counseling. I met with Angela in a cafe in Oakland. In the first semester of her senior year of college, Angela participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Bali. This decision grew out of her enthusiasm for experiential learning. I wanted to go basically because d sort of followed a pattern in my college career. The fall of my sophomore year, I spent a semester in Chicago. And I really liked that....I worked in a musical theater producing company....So that was very fun, and I liked sort of the experiential learning. So I get back to 71 Brown for the spring and I was like, ‘Oh man! Here I am back at Brown and it’s February and the weathers really cold, and I’m really not interested in my classes,’ and so forth....Rhode Island is a small, and, I don’t know. I spent four years there, and it’s a nice enough place. Providence is a small city, considering it’s the capital city. So, I hadn’t entered college with the idea of studying abroad, 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 doing experiential learning elsewhere and getting credit for it this time....I don’t know how or when I put the name to t. I had internships basically every summer in college, and I always thought of that as experiential learning. I really like learning outside the classroom. I like writing papers but I don’t like sitting in class and I don’t like taking tests or preparing for them or doing boring assignments or stuff like that. And it was really having my summer experiences that made me want to take a semester off from Brown and then the subsequent semester off. I know that when I wrote the SIT application that I described being in Chicago in an experiential learning period. So, I don’t know where I came up with the term. So I decided to go to Bali chiefly because one of my majors was music, and we had studied Indonesian music in several ethnomusicology courses....And it just seemed like a very interesting place. I had no desire to go to Europe, for instance. And I had taken some courses in Hinduism and things like that which related to the culture. And it turned out that 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 over there to do my ISP, which didn’t really end up happening but it seemed like it could. And it just seemed like the right thing to do. So it wasn’t something I’d been 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’s adventures” (p. 5). Two of the main highlights of her semester were a eight week homestay in Peliatan, and observation of the work of a Hindu priestess during her ISP. Brian Brian is another student who had no travel experience outside of North America before his semester abroad. Brian grew up in a small town in New York. He majored in religion at Columbia University in New York, and is now a medical student at Yale University in Connecticut. In spite of his lack of previous travel experience, he came from a family and background with a strong international and cross-cultural emphasis. Although Brian was born in the United States, his parents emigrated from China after they were married in order to escape persecution by the communist government. He has two older brothers and an older sister. Two of Brian’s siblings have also studied abroad. His sister participated in the Experiment in International Living in China when she was in high school, and also has done medical relief work in Nicaragua. Presently, one of his older brothers is a Peace Corps worker 72 in Thailand. Brian and I met at his apartment in New Haven. He discussed his personal reasons 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 about convenience and security and having a social network that’s so readily available and something that’s so familiar to you that you never feel out of control. Then there’s also the issue of money. Irvington is a very, very homogenous community, that’s very wealthy. It’s a kind of thing where like the senior high school, like ninety percent of your class drives to school or the cars are just like unbelievable 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 World and stuff I realize what a warped perception of the world that was....I didn’t really have a clear cut definition of why I wanted to go. It’s the kind of thing where I grew up in Irvington, I went to school in Manhattan at Columbia, and I had family five blocks away from me....And so I guess I can kind of say that I kind of thought that there might more to life out there, there might be more understanding of the world that I should know about. And rm sure you’ve talked to so many other people and you know about wanting to go and put yourself out on a limb, kind of test yourself to experience a Third World country, to see poverty, to see war, to see that type of suffering that you don’t grow 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 have defmite reasons of why I wanted to be on the Tibet program as opposed to another program. And I didn’t have defmite reasons of why I wanted to go away. I just knew I wanted to go away and I wanted to experience something else, I wanted to have good experiences, and it actually turned out really well that I went to the Tibetan program because it brought in a lot of things about my identity as being Chinese. It brought in through my ISP, my interest in medicine. In undergrad, I was a religion major and I studied a lot of Tibetan Buddhism. And it all actually integrated really well, and things worked out much 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 about the program or the places he was going to study. Once he arrived, a major cause of his culture shock stemmed from his feeling of loss of control. Getting off the plane and having an Indian military guard point a sub machine gun on you with a big dagger in the front yelling at me that I was going the wrong direction, and I was petrified. You know, that sense of instantly losing control and instantly losing the safety and security that lye been used to. Not being able to communicate. (p.31) For Brian, control and security were constant issues throughout the SiT program and his travels following the program. Brian had many exciting experiences during his program and his travels afterwards. He had a two week homestay in Dharamsala, India and a one week homestay 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 the 73 program ended he spent two months traveling through Nepal, Tibet, and China to explore his heritage and family’s roots. Emily Emily grew up in Connecticut, and recently graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio with a double major in religion and international studies. In her junior year of college, Emily participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Bolivia. Her international studies major required that she study abroad in her area of focus, which was Latin America. Emily had many anxieties about living in a non-industrialized country, especially Bolivia. It was required for my International Studies major for me to study abroad for a minimum of a semester. And I didn’t choose Bolivia. I chose Ecuador. At the last minute, the Ecuador program asked that I go to Bolivia because the Ecuador program was so full. I started studying Spanish when I was 12. So I just kept it up through college. But I was very highly functional by the time I got 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 big on no running water. And that’s the only thing I knew of Bolivia at the time was 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 things out of your luggage when you went through customs. I had to get all these shots before I went. I had to get yellow fever and typhoid and cholera and hepatitis, and all these shots before I left. (Emily, p. 1) My mom cried constantly about it....She was really afraid of me going to Bolivia especially. There’s something in Peru called Shining Path....It’s really dangerous....Really dangerous, though, my parents thought. They really haven’t done that much. They’ve infiltrated through parts of Bolivia, but it’s not really a major problem for the Bolivians. It’s a major problem for the Peruvians. My parents 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 got rabies. There’s a lot of disease in this country. Her fear was, I mean she had cause. (p. 2) Emily’s interest in Latin America and international studies began when she was in high school, 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 major and I knew I wanted to have a Latin American Studies concentration. And I knew 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 Latin America, 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....My parents said I either had to work that summer or I had to do something 74 educational. So I said, ‘Okay. I’ll go to Mexico and live there for awhile.’ They were like, ‘Okay. That’s educational.’ (p. 37) In spite of her experiences in Mexico, Emily was still apprehensive about studying abroad. I wasn’t that confident to go down to Bolivia. It was too far away. It was the difference of five years. You go to Mexico when you’re 15, and it was very different than going to Bolivia at 20 for four months and going to Mexico at 15 for two months. Or a month and a half even. I don’t remember what it was. It’s really different. I did feel like I knew what was coming next. Like for the homestay, 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 for International Living. I felt like I had a good grasp on what was going to come next. And I wasn’t scared of the shots. One of the things that frightens people so much, that I never realized was the shots you have to go through. The yellow fever and cholera and typhoid. I think their total is like nine or ten that you 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 honors classes for languages. I have a good aptitude for languages. It’ s pretty easy for me to learn. Definitely. I couldn’t have done it without that. It gives you all the confidence in the world to be able to get into a taxi and just tell them where you want to go. And have them understand you and take you there. And you go 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 Mormon church in Bolivia. Danielle Like Emily, Danielle also participated in a summer Experiment in International Living program in Switzerland in high school and had some cross-cultural experience before her semester abroad. Danielle recently graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts with a degree in anthropology. She now works for a District Attorney’s office in the Labor Racketeering Unit. In her junior year of college, Danielle participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Morocco. I met Danielle in her dorm room at school. She discussed her background 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 to private school in Connecticut. I have a real WASP-y background. My parents are teachers so they’re kind of the black sheep because my grandparents have a lot of money. You know, they’re not bankers in other words. They’re kind of the different people in my family. My parents and I get along really well, and 75 have a really great relationship. But my larger family is really very blind and WASP-y. Just generally the dominant majority in so many ways. They don’t even think twice. Very racist and sexist without even thinking about it. So I kind of feel like I’m this transplant or something, because I have all these friends, none of my friends went to private school. Which in New England, a lot of people I know went to private school. All of my friends are either international students or people who have lived in another culture, or have cultural questions....So I always feel like the people that I’m really, really close to, and generally, like in a sustained way, are people who are dealing with issues of multiple identity in some way. And I think rm like that. And I don’t understand why. I don’t have much time to think [laugh] because I’ve been so busy. But I do really wonder what it is about me that makes me feel like an outsider. In a positive way, that’s given me the sense of multiplicity that I think these people have. Even though I’ve never had any essentially cross-cultural experience. 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. And having to be aware that there’s people who don’t always understand what’s going on because they’re in their own little world like my mom. [laugh] She functions fine, but she just can be really funny....And being kind of an outsider in elementary school. I guess this is probably getting into psychology, and I’m not sure where the origins of this come from, but my dad was the principal in my school for a long time, and so I was just this major faculty brat. I was smart, which is a really bad combination. So they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re dad gives you grades!’ Crushed, you know. So I felt like an outsider for the good part of my younger years. (Danielle, p. 4-5) Danielle’s dissatisfaction with college and her life at home also influenced her desire to study abroad. I was really dissatisfied. I used to be a religion major. I was really, really dissatisfied with that. I’ve been dating the same man for like three years. But the first year and a half was so bad. I don’t know why we stuck it out. But I think I really wanted to get away as soon as possible from him. It sounds really weird, but it was really important, sort of proving to myself that I could be away. And testing the relationship, and testing my friendships and stuff. And I knew I wanted to go in the fall. And then I applied to the Antioch College program in India, monastery type thing. And then I realized that I really didn’t want to go to India, number one. And number two, I didn’t feel like sitting in a Zen monastery for four months, and that just seemed really stupid. I don’t know why I thought it was so cool, for like a week. [laugh]....I wanted to go to the Third World....Actually my advisor, the study abroad advisor here picked Morocco for me. She didn’t pick it, she just suggested it. But she said, ‘You want to practice your French,’ that was another major thing. So I speak almost fluently, following that trip. I studied Arabic. But my family was really bourgeoisie. 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 a religious country, which was very interesting, actually. (p. 6-7) Danielle stayed with her homestay family in Rabat for approximately three months on and off throughout the program. She wrote her ISP on Moroccan women’s cooperatives. 76 Nicole Nicole 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 and Culture program in Zimbabwe. Nicole is now a master’s student in education at Stanford’s teacher education program, and at the time of the interview was simultaneously taking classes and working on her practicum. She recently graduated from Harvard with a degree in social studies 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 her interest in African studies developed: I had gone to Ghana in high school on an APS program in the summer for two months. And I was fascinated. I spent some time there in a homestay in Takarati, which is a small-sized town, and stayed with a family who had three children of their own but also had several other children who were sort of hangers on, adopted children. Not formally adopted, but had just sort of been taken in. And it was a very weird situation for me in a lot of ways because the father couldn’t decide whether I was his date or his daughter. So I was taken out to bars a lot by him, and the kids were too young really to speak English. A couple 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. I ended up volunteering with a preschool. That was fun. I really liked the other teachers. A nice group of people. And the mother, I really liked her, but she didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Twi. So we sort of had this weird communication. It worked, and we knew we liked each other, but it was also very limited in tenns of how much you could do. And they also had this whole hospitality thing, where, ‘You are the guest. We will serve you.’ Which was 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 be served by myself in front of the TV in the main room while everybody else ate in the kitchen on the floor, except for the father. So I kind of worked my way into getting them to let me do laundry and let me help with the cooking. And it took 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 I was 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 ironed baby diapers and socks. But I ended up doing that like five hours a day kind of thing. And eventually I got to the point where they were starting to accept me into the family. But at the same point I got malaria....They treated me with Chioriquin which is what I had been taking to prevent getting malaria. And Chioriquin has no effect on that kind of malaria. So I was essentially getting no treatment for a month. And I stayed out for the rest of my stay....So I came back, and my parents live in San Diego. And they took me to the hospital and the doctors were like, ‘We can’t believe you’re still alive!’ Because I convinced myself I was getting better. I blacked Out for the first week. And then after that I tried everyday to get a little bit of strength back to the point where I could walk around the market circle. And I took me a long time to be able to walk 77 around the market circle....Then I came back and there was this whole big issue because, why didn’t AFS notify my parents that I was sick. And people got very angry and AFS ended up closing its Africa programs for the next year which I was very upset about. Mainly because of financial reasons. They believe and I agree, one of the things I wish would happen on SIT more, is that if you send students to another country you should take students from that country. So it’s a reciprocal exchange program, not just one way. And that was one thing I kept asking the SIT directors, ‘Why are there just American students here? Why aren’t there students from many different countries so that we can learn 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, and eventually led to her studying abroad again as an undergraduate. Watching people’s reactions, my experience there where I felt like I had just begun to start to get a handle on things and all the sudden was shut away because of this disease. Even though I was still there, it wasn’t much of an experience after that in terms of a cultural education experience. So that and watching people’s reactions after I got back of, ‘Oh, it’s a foreign place. They don’t know any better. Of course you would have died.’ And that made me very 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, because rm 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 I really wanted to explore more, led me to study Africa in college....My major was Social Studies because Harvard doesn’t have African Studies. Well, they have an African Studies department but you can’t get a degree in it. So I got one of the first four certificates in African Studies in addition to a degree in Social Studies. Which is a mixture of economics, history, government, and that has a very heavy dose of social theory. (p. 3) So I decided I wanted to go away. And also at that point I was debating whether I wanted to go into international work, development work as a career and deciding whether or not I really wanted to do that and feeling slightly overwhelmed. In the junior fall, [semester] I was taking five courses, I was running a homeless shelter and an after-school program which ran daily, and had a part-time job....And so it was kind of an escape, because I just felt slightly overwhelmed by all of that, and wondered, were those things I wanted to do once I graduated, working in social service in this country or did I want to work in social service abroad or working in international development or did I need some time for exploration, as well as recognizing that I wanted to do it for my academics 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 in Harare, a week-long workcamp during which Nicole worked as a teacher in a secondary school, ISP research and subsequent thesis research on Zimbabwe’s rural secondary school system after the program ended. 78 Jodie Jodie recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in anthropology. In the fall of her junior year, she participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in Cameroon. Like Nicole, a main influence in Jodie’s decision to go to Cameroon was a previous study abroad experience she had with the American Field Service (AFS) in Turkey after she graduated from high school. She spent a year in Turkey, during which time she lived in a homestay with a Turkish family, attended classes at a Turkish school, and learned 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’s previous participation in a high school study abroad program appears to have provided her with a basis of cultural reflexivity from which to approach her experience with SIT in Cameroon. It gave her the opportunity to explore basic issues of culture and cross-cultural relations, such that she was able to engage in more complex thought on these issues during her time in Cameroon. I met Jodie at her apartment in Santa Cruz. She was a cultural anthropology major and is very interested and involved in music. She often combines these interests in her life, and is intrigued by the dynamics of culture and cultural boundaries, and how these are articulated in music. She chose to study in Cameroon because of her interests in musical traditions which come out of West Africa, such as jazz and salsa. She also was interested in studying in a French-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 more the 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 that a lot and just want to continue that. Not that that’s bad or anything, but there are some parts that I realized that made sense to me about being in Cameroon that because I kind of grew up like that, like in this really old house that we rented way out in the country that didn’t have, like I had a high tolerance for discomfort because my parents were kind of, I don’t know, just have a different way of life. So that kind of thing. I don’t know, we grew up in this dump of a house, way out, and the pump was always breaking down for the toilet, not a lot 79 of modem things, a pretty low consumer lifestyle. I grew up camping a lot so I had a lot of ability to adapt to things that were going on in Cameroon like washing my clothes by hand. It was no big deal, bugs and things like that. It was like I grew up in this house, bugs, bugs. And like my mom’s bilingualism has always been an important force in my life, about my relationship with other languages 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’s a second grade teacher and is really creative. And my dad was a teacher for a long time and he’s now getting his MA and going into Field Biology. And so the way they taught me to relate to nature and the way they taught me to relate to 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 Dschang and one for two weeks in Yaounde. For her ISP she studied the Bikutsi music tradition. After the program ended, she traveled to Kenya, Turkey, and western Europe with friends before returning home. James James participated in the CSA Life and Culture program in India the semester after he fmished college. He is presently working as an instructional assistant in a first grade classroom in Seattle, Washington. He grew up on Long Island, New York, and graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s in religion, which has been a well-defined interest of his throughout his life. James and I met in a cafe in Seattle. He described what he considers unique about himself and his background: I have an extremely open mind and a strong appreciation of life and its wonders, although these don’t make me unique, just uncommon perhaps. I won’t flatter myself and say rm unique. Only my fingerprints. I enjoy trying to open 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 my life, 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 be a teacher. In college, he chose to major in religion, and considered becoming a college professor in religious studies. As he took courses in comparative religion, he developed an interest in Eastern religions. In his sophomore year in college, James met a student who had participated in the SIT Nepal program, and was inspired through her to participate in an SIT program in India after he graduated from college. He was also motivated to study abroad by his interest in religion. 80 I started to become a lot more interested in other religions, so I took courses in Asian religions. Buddhism really interested me a lot. As did Hindu. Where I am now, I’m much more interested in Buddhism than Hinduism. But then, Hinduism seemed more interesting. There are several different religions which are common in India, which are basically inextricable from the society itself. I decided 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 religion and 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. The caste system is everything. I mean everything from your occupation to who you 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 country that was sort of different from where I had lived my entire life. I’ve traveled a bit, because my parents like to travel. My dad goes on business. So I’ve traveled to different countries, but I went as a tourist and always a pretty westernized, quote unquote westernized or modernized country. I’ve never been someplace like the royal villages of India before. I wanted to go to someplace that would kind of shake my foundations, or open my eyes to a totally different way of life. And it did....All I’d ever known was the United States. I was very comfortable with the United States. Other than visiting here or there as a tourist, I was very comfortable with it. It seemed to get stale, I guess. I wanted to get out. I needed a change, something that would refreshen me in it’s uniqueness. Not uniqueness, but infinite quality of difference. I needed something, I needed to learn something different and get out of what was 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 boring country. It’s not. There’s so much richness and beauty and wealth in every aspect. But where I was, I guess I wasn’t enjoying it as fully as I could have been. And I wanted, I don’t really know exactly. It wasn’t something that I can really 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 learning about other peoples, and I’ve always been very open and welcoming to people of every whatever. And, so I’ve always been interested in the other, or in the different. And that was a pretty different, other country to go to. The other side of the planet, and it’s worlds away. (p.5) Unlike most students, James waited until the semester after he graduated from Tufts to participate in the SIT program. He had originally planned to spend a semester of his junior year in Israel, but the Gulf War broke out at that time so his plans were canceled. However, in spite of the cancellation, he maintained his interest in study abroad, as well as his interest in experiential education. 81 rye always been critical of teachers and professors of mine. Because Tve always been very interested in education. I’ve always been interested in methods of teaching. So when rye had teachers who were dull and boring, you know, I thought about why. And I thought about what they could do to make it better....And I knew that if I went to India or if I went to Spain, or Nepal, or where ever, I would learn a heck of a lot more. Because I could study Hinduism, and I could read about India, but it would still be in the pages. And now I’ve seen different castes in action in the social hierarchy. And fve seen the way that religion really is everywhere in India. It’s not just, you drive down the road and you see a church in Seattle. There are Hindu temples and Muslim mosques, 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 a big 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 called Ganesha. After his program ended, James spent one month traveling around India on his own before he returned home. Chris Chris grew up in southern New York. His father is a Catholic priest. He recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s in philosophy. At the time of the interview Chris lived at home with his parents in New York state and was working as a substitute teacher. He now works at an inn in Maine. In the first semester of his senior year, Chris participated in the CSA 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 over there and sort of interest in eastern spirituality and stuff like that. And I’d done a lot of reading in philosophy. That was always my area of interest, but at a Catholic school I didn’t get much academic exposure. It was something I explored on my own and I thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to actually go to where Buddhism was founded and see what it’s like over there and see what the people are like?’ I just love the mountains, too. So I wanted to be there to see the mountains and I thought that it was an interesting place to go. I had originally wanted to go to Tibet but when I did more research on the environment of Tibet, and the geography and how it’s really kind of closed to the public now because of the Chinese takeover. And then I did some reading and I’d never really heard of Nepal, maybe just vaguely heard of it, but didn’t really realize. A lot of people don’t know where it is. They think it’s a part of India. And I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this seems like a cooler place because it’s on the front side of the rain, so Tibet’s in a rain shadow and it’s desert and dry and high and flat.’ Whereas Nepal is lush and green and jungles and the mountains and I thought that that would just be a more interesting environment to be in because I generally don’t like deserts and barren. I like trees and forest and stuff like that and Nepal is like that. (Chris, p. 1) 82 I just thought it was an interesting place, you know the mountains and just the geography seemed neat. Also what interested me was well, Tibet is primarily uni-culture, all Tibetans whatever. Nepal tends to be Indians and Indian culture in the south to Tibetan branch cultures in the north. So you got Indian people and Asian people and every shade in between. And then with the mountains and the jungles and stuff like that, people are a lot more separated in Nepal than they are in Tibet where a lot of people can sort of move around. It’s just an easier place to travel around in. So you have these little pocket cultures in Nepal. And it just seemed like a very condensed place where there’s a lot of different cultures. I mean you have cultures that were Buddhism and cultures that were Hindu and cultures that couldn’t determine which they were. They were just sort of somewhere in-between. They’re also separated by the forests and jungles and the mountains and stuff like that that it just makes for really an interesting place in such a compact, small area....I didn’t study it that extensively. 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 significantly influenced his decision to go to Nepal. They [my parents] never pushed religion, they were never like strict like, ‘You guys have to be Catholic.’ I just guess the whole sort of whether it’s upbringing or whether it’s genetic, the whole interest in spirituality and stuff like that apparently that’s where it comes from. He’s a priest and I’m interested in philosophy and religion. Different religions. I wouldn’t necessarily subscribe to any particular religion because I have this tendency of finding difficulties with everyone I explore. This is wrong and that’s wrong. There’s always something wrong. My big thing right now is just to find commonalties and take what I can find from those commonakies and learn from them. But my dad being of a different generation, back in the time when it was just rigid and dogmatic and this is what you do and this is the way that church is and you follow this. It kind of lends itself to make it easier for a person to become one religion and stick to it. Whereas today I think we’re so exposed to so many different things just from the media and everything else that we’re just sort of out there like, ‘Well, geez, there’s this and there’s that,’ and it’s really hard to be part of one religion, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing. So I think that’s probably where the interest comes from. I don’t know how it started with eastern religions. I remember when I was little thinking, I remember I asked my Dad one time. I said, ‘Well, you know, say someone was raised in some far away country and was never exposed to Christianity, when they died and went to heaven, would they go to hell? What would happen to them because they never had a chance to...?’ So I always had difficulties growing up with the ideas of the Christian faith as taught by the Catholic church. So then I started looking in other directions and I guess just sort of haphazardly came upon eastern religion spirituality and stuff like that. So exploring that a bit. More Buddhism than Hinduism because Hinduism is just really too complex to grasp. To try and like study it, it’s just all over the place. At least with Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, there’s sort of some rigid doctrines. I mean you can read something that says it is this way and it is that way. It’s easier to focus on, a religion that’s laid down the law like that. That’s why I’m interested in that. (p. 2) 83 It’s like an interest, it’s like a hobby. But I don’t really see it as a career. I think that there’s so many other important things that have to be done that it kind of takes a back seat. Religion is one of those things that you can worry about and deal 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 and messed up that we’ll worry about religion once we get ourselves straightened out. In an ideal world I might be happy to be involved in religion or be a teacher or something. But right now there’s so many other problems that have to be taken care of first. I just would have a hard time putting my energies in that direction, you know, watching everything fall apart around me. (p.4) Chris had not done much traveling abroad before he went to Nepal, excepting a summer 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 always interested in watching National Geographic. My favorite show when I was a kid was ‘In Search Of because they’d always do all these cool things about Easter Island or all these weird things and different cultures. Then like the National Geographic specials and stuff like that. (p. 50) Chris had two homestays, one week in Taplejung and five weeks in Kathmandu. The first homestay required the group to trek through the Himalayas, which was one of the highlights of the trip for Chris. For his ISP, Chris conducted a cultural study paper of a western Nepalese village. Conclusion There are a number of significant elements in these student backgrounds. Five of these students had never traveled abroad before their semester abroad, and only four students had previous experience living in non-industrialized countries. Most students’ parents and families were supportive of their decisions to study abroad, but some were concerned by the foreign cultures, living conditions, and distance of the countries in which their children wanted to study. Many students anticipated the opportunity to challenge their personal limits, and to do something different from the norm. All students related the CSA program to their academic majors, and saw this program as a way to contribute to their university education. In addition to backgrounds, relationships shape the experience, reflection, and change that students undergo in the experiential, cross-cultural learning process. Academic Directors shape the structured experiences, which students often go through as a group. Debriefing sessions, discussion, and emotional support also happen often within the realm of the student 84 group. These relationships have a strong bearing on the formation of experience and reflection. Furthermore, the students’ relationships with people of the host culture create the cross-cultural dialogue which can challenge students’ meaning perspectives and lead to perspective transformation. 85 ChaDter Five: Relationships and Emotionally engaged Learning Introduction Relationships are a crucial factor in experiential learning. They can determine the level of cultural immersion achieved by students, as well as their support network. They create the basis from which cross-cultural learning occurs. In the interviews, I asked students to describe important relationships they developed, and to reflect on the effect these relationships had on them. There were four main categories of relationships that students formed during their time abroad: relationships with people in their homestays, cross-cultural relationships with people of the host culture, relationships with Academic Directors, and relationships with other SIT students in the program. Homestays Five of the participants interviewed for this study developed significant relationships with their homestay families. Three of these students developed these relationships with their initial homestay families, and two developed relationships with host families they stayed with during the Independent Study Project. Jodie is an example of a student who developed a close relationship with her homestay family. Jodie’s host father was a high school teacher of Comparative Literature and her host mother cared for the family. They had four children of their own, but there were about five or six other children from the extended family who also lived with them. She developed a close relationship 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 a commitment to traditional Cameroonian life. He was an amazing man. The more I got to know him, the more I really respected him. He had processed the two worlds that he was a part of, the kind of more western, having received his M.A. in Britain and stuff like that, and yet coming 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 me do that a lot because I was like trying to figure out what I was doing there and why I was there and if it was okay that I was there and all that shit and the politics of it all. Not the kind of politics of the country, but in other sense, the power dynamics, being an American, being white. And he was really 86 helpful. ...He was the main organizer of the French classes that we all took together, the language classes. And he was good friends with ‘Karen’ and so we’d walk to school everyday together because he taught our French classes. And when we walked to school, we just talked about everything. I remember one 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 their language training. He had his fingers in a million things, but still was a good dad. He was so cool. Busy though. And so I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can believe in what the Peace Corps does, and I don’t know if I can really be a part 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 too seriously. If you have the opportunity then you should do it.’ But he was also really political. We would talk about Langston Hughes and compare it to movements in literature. He was a quiet revolutionary. He’d always whisper when we talked about politics. It always freaked me out, man. And he would talk a lot in metaphor. He would say, ‘Well the climate is very cold right now for change.’....I don’t know if it’s even direct or just him making me feel welcome, and the fact that I could discuss stuff like that with him. Issues of race, 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 role as a European-American student in Cameroon and to see herself through the eyes of a Cameroonian. This is an example of how cross-cultural dialogue can be part of critical reflection. 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-cultural experience in Britain, and he helped Jodie to do the same. Through this relationship, Jodie gained the benefit of an insider’s view of Cameroonian culture, an outsider’s view of her own culture, 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 she was very adaptable to their way of life. And just the fact that the family just welcomed me so wholeheartedly but it wasn’t artificial or based on misguided assumptions, from what I felt. A real honest relationship. So that was cool My host mother too. We had some really good talks....It just clicked. It’s so amazing, and the kids were just phenomenal. They told me I was simple a lot....They meant I think that I was adaptable to their way of life. Doing my laundry by hand, pounding plantains and cooking outside and stuff. I don’t know, I guess one of their other students freaked out. She bought jam because she liked jam on her bread. And that was fine with them and they understood, but it was like one of those things where what they had wasn’t good enough. And so she had brought in jam, which was like a little thing. And they never held it against her or anything but they were just telling me, they’d be like, ‘Oh, you know, you don’t even need jam on your 87 bread, you just eat the bread.’ I think it made sense that I felt really comfortable being there and was really happy about it. So it was like a mutual response thing. (p. 13-14) The fact that Jodie developed close relationships with the members of her host family enabled her to immerse and integrate herself deeply into the culture, and consequently caused her to build stronger ties with the community, the culture, and the country. One of the reasons she was able to form these close relationships was because of her adaptability resulting from her upbringing and previous cross-cultural experience. She continues to write to her homestay family, and is hoping that her host family will be able to send one of their children to the U.S. to 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 week homestay 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 SIT student stayed with a business man, his two children, and his wife’s sister. His wife was away studying in the Ivory Coast. [He] had been to France and he was an example of somebody who I felt had not made a kind of graceful weaving together of his past to his present, and his time in France vs. his roots in Cameroon. Kind of a Francophile. He used to say some really weird things sometimes like ‘I’m just a little black man’ and stuff like 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, not for California. ‘I want to go back to my family.’ (Jodie, p. 17) There were hard interactions with my homestay father of that family I lived with just for two weeks in Yaounde. That was for me a really trying experience because it stressed me out to be there. I missed my other family. And it stressed me out because I didn’t always get to see eye to eye with him on these things. And he was really, you know, he was in many ways quite a generous and warm person and wanted to really give us a good time. The ways that he chose 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 to take her and the other student out to some bars. They ended up going to a strip show, and Jodie faced a lot of discomfort in her repulsion towards the objectification of women and yet wanted to accept her host father’s generosity in showing her a good time and buying her drinks. 88 And he was trying to be generous, yeah. And I think he was honestly friendly and also wanted to show these American girls a good time. And not in a sleazy sense, but definitely in a sense that was less true or less the way that I related to people than with my family in Dschang. It wasn’t the people that I met in Dschang. He’s definitely a more city swinging upper class wheeling / dealing and somewhat business-y, you know. Things that I associate with more superficial, you know. But I think he was a good man. But I don’t think he had any other aims or anything. That was just his world. That was kind of an interesting thing, to face up to the fact that there was a lot of different sides to this place that I was having such a great time in, and in many ways had held up and 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 host family that was not perfect or whatever and I’m sure that at some points the pedestals 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 culture that she had developed up to that point. Her Dschang host family represented an ideal to her which was dispelled by her experiences in the Yaounde homestay. She made an almost direct comparison between her two homestay fathers, one who had, in her opinion, created a balance between traditional Cameroonian and western culture, and one who had not. This gave her the opportunity to consider on the impact of western colonization on a group of people and their culture and lifestyle whom she had grown to care about deeply. Two other students had significant relationships with their homestay families, Emily and Danielle. Emily was placed into a four week homestay in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She lived with an older couple who had four grown children, and Emily referred to them as her grandparents. Although Emily was homesick, she liked her homestay grandparents and stayed with them after the homestay period was completed. She was relieved to discover that they had some of the comforts of her own home. She was also impressed with the hardships they had overcome in their lives. When I met them, I liked them and I felt comfortable around them. They told me, 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 had three daughters living in Philadelphia who were sending them stuff. They sent their daughters there to get educated. Which was amazing because they both came from the outback of Bolivia. They were both Indians who didn’t know any Spanish when they got married. They didn’t speak any Spanish, they weren’t mainstreamed into Bolivian society. They weren’t mainstreamed into modern city society. They were living in the countryside on a farm. And when they got married they decided that they didn’t want their children to have to live the same way. They moved into the city, sold everything they had and bought a 89 big truck. And the man from his late 20’s until his late 60’s drove the truck from Cochabamba to La Paz to Buenos Aires to Santiago to Rio, to anywhere doing deliveries and picking up supplies. And he was paid for it. And I guess it was very prosperous. And they could afford to send their daughters to colleges in Bolivia where they met American men and married American men and 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 felt like 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 their husbands in Philadelphia.) One daughter is a doctor, two daughters are teachers with 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 really good stock though. (Emily, letter to parents, September 10, 1992) Emily enjoyed her homestay and liked her host parents. However, as the homestay progressed, her personal freedom became a major cultural issue between her host parents and herself. I explained to them straight off, that in the United States I’m allowed to choose my friends, and rm allowed to choose what time I come home, which they did try to comply with. [laugh] They didn’t find much success. It was very frustrating to them not to know where I was, with whom I was, why wasn’t I with friends of the family. And then I tried to explain that I was not part of their culture and in my culture I can go out with who I want to. In my culture I choose my friends and I choose where I go with them and what I do. And if I get in trouble I take the consequences. And it was not too acceptable after awhile. But Diana, my program advisor, she was real good. She said, ‘If you feel 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. Anything that happened to us, Diana was the fmal word. Not our host parents. If I suddenly wanted to move out of my homestay, my host parents can’t say a thing about it if Diana says it’s fme. Which eventually happened to me. And Diana’s attitude was not Tm your leader, listen to what I say.’ Her attitude was, ‘In the United 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 the consequences of your actions. ‘Which is how my parents view the world which made 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 where you are, tell me when you leave. Tell me when you move in. If there’s a big blow 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 was 90 paying them a fee to cover her room and board. However, during this time Emily met and started dating a Bolivian man. This set off a major cross-cultural conflict, as her host parents attempted to limit her interactions with him. [M]y host mother had a talk with me and she said, ‘You keep going out with the same boy and he calls here.’ And I said ‘Yes, he calls here when he wants to speak to me.’ ‘We don’t want him to call here anymore.’ And I said, ‘I am paying to live here. And I care about both of you. I like living here, but it’s not fair 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 I do 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 even my relations. At the time, that’s what I felt....I had four weeks there and he would pick me up at like nine at night and I would come in at two in the morning. And I had my own key and I was quiet, and I did not feel like I was giving these people cause for them to say this to me. They had a major problem with the phone. They didn’t want him to call their home. He wasn’t calling, lest you think he called everyday, he would call twice a week maybe....When they told me I couldn’t use the phone anymore unless I was calling the United States to call my parents, I was furious. And I said ‘I can’t live here if you make these kinds 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 and the other thing. Now I understand this isn’t the United States but to be denied phone privileges, for you to tell me who I can and cannot be friends with, I can’t live like that for four weeks.’ In addition to conflict with her host family, Emily was being pressured by Thomas to move in with him. She did not feel comfortable doing this, but nor did she feel comfortable staying with her homestay family. She decided as an alternative to move into a hotel with another 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 are going to move into a hotel? You’re chasing this boy.’ And Pm like ‘No, I’m not moving in with this boy. I am moving into a hotel. I cannot work here. I think that you’re angry because I need to use your telephone. But I need to use your telephone. I need to call people. And not just this guy. Pm doing a project here where I need to call people all the time. And I need them to be able to call me.’ And they would hang up on people who called me, regardless of whether it was a male or a female, or they would just be like ‘She’s not here.’ Click....I’m not their family. I liked them, and I cared about them. And I’d love to go see them once a week or go out to dinner with them a couple times, but I didn’t want them to be able to tell me what to do....I had a big fight with them. And I didn’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 he would not see me again after that....She would come to see me every so often and bring me treats or ask me to come for dinner. And so I went for lunch two or three times, but he was never there. Conspicuously so, because he was always there when I had lunch, every other time. So I knew he was angry, had a problem with it. I did talk to him, a month after I left. I talked to him New 91 Year’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 she valued her independence within her own culture. The relationships with her homestay grandparents and with Thomas forced her to confront her own cultural values as she experienced a loss of personal freedom, and led her to reassess the importance of her personal autonomy. The psychological intensity of the experience was increased as she felt a loss of power in these cross-cultural situations (Paige, 1993). Danielle had an unusual homestay experience. Like Emily, she also remained in her homestay for the ISP part of the program, in addition to the actual homestay period. She described her homestay. They’re really, really wealthy. My host father was a colonel in the Moroccan army. Which is the biggest system of perks I’ve ever seen. They had like three cars, TV’s and servants and a house. It was remarkable. So they were really wealthy. 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 really wealthy home. I was a little disappointed, but I guess again it has to do with all the notions of authenticity. ‘They’re not REAL Moroccans,’ you know. They weren’t like the majority of the population, but they were really unique. They were great people. (Danielle, p. 10) Danielle developed intense relationships with her homestay brother and sister, both which largely shaped her experience. I had a relationship with my host brother. He’s 25,1 think he’s 25 now. But that didn’t start until like November. My host sister, I think is psychopathic. I really do. They only had two kids, which is unusuaL But she is possibly the most, I swear, I don’t usually call people mentally ill. I think it’s because she’s totally ugly and she’s totally stupid. Those are the two kinds of neuroses that women get in a society like that. That women really don’t have any power, especially among bourgeois women. I went to a rural village later in the trip. And the women, they had no power on paper. But they controlled everything. They would make the food, if they ever wanted to stop doing something to make a point, 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 have any power. She had servants to take care of the food. So she just exercised all day. This was my host mother. It was kind of a strange combination of a Moroccan and western life. So my Moroccan sister, if you’re beautiful, then that improves just everything for you. Even good looking. She was not. And she 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 just 92 this big mass of self-hatred that made me so nervous. And she was just so screwed up....But she was really great to have around in the beginning, because we were really great friends. And then she was extremely possessive and she made 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 and yell at me for like three hours about how I’d ruined her life and I was totally messing everything up, and why didn’t I tell her from the beginning that I didn’t want 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 her host sister deteriorated. He was just a really good friend to me. We always talked at the end of the day about how things were going. He was always interested in hearing about my life. It was really good to have a friend like that. And I think we became sexually involved because I was curious and because it didn’t really matter to me. But for him it was so different, because in his culture, I think it’s really confused. He told me once that I would be a slut if I were Moroccan. But he didn’t mean it like insultingly. He just meant that if I were Moroccan I wouldn’t have had the same experiences. It doesn’t really make sense. But I wasn’t. I was American. And I think that was really attractive to him. I was really smart to 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 big way. So he was really, really important to me in terms of making my experience more whole, in the sense of being able to go places with him. We went out with his friends all the time. It was really fun....We knew it was going to end. Actually, he was in a relationship with somebody else when I first got there. And I started asking him questions about it because I didn’t really understand 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 he broke 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 into me than I was into him. For example, he would say things like ‘Oh, in the United States, ll defmitely come and we’ll go out.’ And I was like, ‘The only place I would ever date you is in Morocco.’ (p. 11-12) Sexism and feminism were significant issues in Danielle’s relationship with her host brother, as well as throughout her stay in Morocco. He was so sexist in so many ways. He was borderline cooL If he had been brought 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 the same time wanted to be like an upper-class pig, basically. Go to prostitutes and do 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 the Third 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.’ I 93 was 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 sexual relationship that, while it was very exciting and sexually interesting, at the same time, he was very into kissing me and doing things TO me. Ideologically I was not an active participant, even though he wanted to pleasure me. Superficially it looked beneficial to me. But ideologically, he wanted to do this to me and if I didn’t want him to, it didn’t matter. It just happened to be that he wanted to pleasure me, but that was no longer a pleasure....And so I kind of let things slide. And behavior from my sister that I think is psycho. Part of it is just being 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 wanting to adapt to a new culture. Having to make such major compromises eventually left her feeling violated. That she felt she had to “ignore stuff we think is wrong” within these two relationships is another example of how cross-cultural relationships can work to challenge cultural values and meaning perspectives. In her observations of her homestay sister, Danielle assessed male and female power relations in Morocco. She resented her sister’s self-hatred and attempts to “possess” her. She then turned to her homestay brother, who appreciated her inteffigence and strength. They engaged in cross-cultural dialogue concerning women’s sexual roles in both American and Moroccan culture. Danielle seemed to be torn between asserting herself and her own beliefs and accepting the cultural values of Moroccans. The high degree of sexism she experienced in Moroccan culture created a sense of cultural marginality for Danielle, and this threat to her meaning perspectives led her to a re-commitment, or a stronger commitment 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 homestay experience in Chikwaka, a rural village where the work camp was held. Nicole stayed with this 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 the workcamp, Nicole worked as a teacher at a nearby secondary school. Her ISP and thesis research was a study of Zimbabwe’s rural secondary school system and employment opportunities for students. Nicole described her host family: 94 They were really wonderful and they were very welcoming, very open. And this family had hosted seven SIT students. There were two of us staying there at the time. And I guess three or four before had come back and spent more time. And I spent another two and a half weeks there during my Independent Study Project. And when I was doing that, the school was out of session. So on a daily basis I got to spend the morning helping around the house, doing chores, making corn meal out of corn, sweeping floors, polishing floors. All that good stuff. And then in the afternoons, ‘Melissa’ and I would go and get interviews....And so we’d go interview people, and even though it wasn’t as intense [as the first time I stayed with them], it was probably better than the first homestay because I got to learn more about the family and they didn’t stage a big party every night. And occasionally we’d have one but it was much more natural. And I got to watch them do day to day work and participate in some of it and watch baba organize his own garden. He kind of organized this community garden that he’s in charge of. Everybody has their own plots. And so that was a lot of fun. And I never did quite master maldng sadza over an open fire. It was just too intense. They were just wonderful people. And both the mother and the father spoke English which was nice because it meant that we could communicate on a deeper level....And they were great. No question about it. They were just wonderful. And the girls and I slept in the same hut and they took care of me. Taught me the ways. [laugh] And if anything they were overly accommodating at times. But that was okay. At the same time they were really anxious to show me by having me do. So they wanted me to learn by doing. Which was really neat. And we’d start to, because I was teaching at the school which was right nearby, they would start asking questions about the United States and other countries, and also to help with their math homework or their English homework or whatever. And that was neat too because I really got a sense of where they were. And at one point Melissa 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 fly overhead. It never clicked that they’re just going around the world. They’re not going to another world. And it was really interesting. And they were much more 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 a participant of a family. She also believed strongly in social service and community involvement. Her host family in Chikwaka gave Nicole this opportunity to immerse herself in the culture. Nicole had a strong sense of family, and being part of one through work and her relationships allowed Nicole to feel closer to Shona culture. Through her relationship with Melissa, one of the older children in the family, they educated one another about their different homes, 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. 95 I was terrified through the first homestay because of being Chinese, I wasn’t sure how I was going to be perceived by these families. The parents, my homestay parents, they were part of the group that fled from Tibet when some of the Chinese took over. So I wasn’t really sure how they were going to perceive me because I could tell them that I’m an American and my only basis for that is that I was born in America yet my parents are Chinese. And so that’s the same as saying that their children are Indian and not Tibetan. So it was like if rm insisting that I’m American because I was born in America, that’s like me saying that their children are no longer Tibetan which was a problem because they are trying desperately to preserve their culture and not have it integrated with the Indian culture. And so there’s so much, I mean understandably there’s so much hatred and anger toward the Chinese by the Tibetan people. And so when I had this homestay I wasn’t sure how I would be perceived because I would imagine that, I don’t know whether they knew that their student was going to be a Chinese-American or whether or not they were looking forward to having a new son who was blond-haired, blue-eyed, 6’4” type of guy. Or whether or not they were gonna find somebody who not only was more familiar but was more familiar in a negative way....I kind of knew that it would be an issue, and I didn’t know how I would address it because I knew I would have a really intensive experience, coming from a situation that would put me in a potentially conflicting situation. It was like this type of thing that I couldn’t possibly prepare myself for in terms of what I would do. I would just have to play by ear and see what happens. For the homestay it actually worked out fine. 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. It wasn’t an issue in the homestay. It became an issue in very many other instances. But for the homestay which I was most terrified for, it wasn’t an issue 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 was too short for students to get to know the families well. In addition, the Tibetan families in Kathmandu had few ties left with the Tibetan culture, as they had lived in Nepal for many generations, long before the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Brian had a particularly unsuccessful second homestay because he was sick while he was there and he left early to travel to the site of his Independent Study Project. However, his racial identity proved not to be an issue in the second homestay either. During the ISP, Brian stayed with the family of the Tibetan doctor with whom he was apprenticing. Brian developed a close relationship with this family, especially Tsampa, the doctor. He went to a small, isolated village called Dumba in western Nepal, which was a ten day 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 Tibetan doctor in this area and suggested that he study with him for his ISP. During a four week stay 96 in Dumba, Brian observed patient relations as well as kept a record of traditional medicines that the doctor used in his treatments. Brian described his introduction to Tsampa, the doctor with whom he apprenticed: And so I put on my backpack and went looking for this guy. He had no idea I even existed. I couldn’t telephone ahead, I couldn’t mail anything on him. I had no idea whether or not he was there, whether or not he had died, whether or not anything. And Jean had met him like years ago. And so I went there and went through the towns and with the Nepali I picked up, I figured out which town he was in, and where he lived. And I knocked on his door, and he wasn’t there and he wasn’t coming back until that evening. I just hung out and talked with his wife, and met the kids. Another student has studied with him I think two years ago and so I kind of made a connection between myself and this other student and that I was going to be in a similar situation. And so they understood....And so I banged on this guy’s door and I spoke to his wife. And from the experience of this other student, Jean kind of knew that I was going to be put under a certain type of test by him, to see whether or not I was really serious or interested, just because this other student had. Basically he put this other student to help him with his chores and really put him through a lot of hard labor almost just to get him to show that he was really truly interested in this man, in this culture and in this way of life and not just a passer-by type of tourist who is just interested in checking things out, and really wants to become part of the community. And so that was one of the reasons I did all the chores with the rest of the family. I slept in the same pile as the other children and half the time I was working the fields, I cut down trees and did a lot of things that I would if I were actually a member of the family. That was actually my more significant unofficial homestay, where I was really integrated into the family....I had worked for an ambulance for four years before I went on the program. And when this doctor was away that day, I’d been there for maybe an hour or so and there was an emergency with a woman who came in and she had basically hacked away part of her hand. She didn’t like lose any appendages but she had massive bleeding and what not. And so I’m trained in that kind of emergency type stuff in terms of bleeding control and infection control and I was carrying all my stuff, just basic first aid stuff. And so I took care of her hand and apparently that ended up being my test then that Tsampa was looking for. That didn’t really show that I was interested in the Tibetans, that it showed that I was interested in medicine and interested in helping the people and interested in being part of the community in terms of helping the commumty....And so he was happy about that. He was impressed about that. And his wife told him about 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’ is the name of a doctor, and ‘U-tog’ is a famous Tibetan doctor. So this became my nickname that he introduced me to everybody. (p. 9-10) Because of Brian’s Chinese heritage, he was especially reliant on his actions and cross cultural dialogue to demonstrate his interest in the Tibetan people and culture, and his ideological opposition to the Chinese government. Tsampa’s mentorship and acceptance of Brian into his home demonstrates that Brian was able to communicate his intentions, in spite 97 of the language barrier. Tsampa became a significant role model for Brian, and his studies with him during the ISP allowed Brian to reflect on his aspirations as a doctor and as a human being. Tsampa also lived a life shaped by Buddhism, which impressed Brian. This is a person who completely embraces all the ideas of Buddhism. Believes it 100 percent and you’d really see every bit of it reflected in everything he does. 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 just medically but religiously and also personally and socially. Watching him interact with people and seeing him in difficult situations and still be so compassionate. I guess a lot of things that these Buddhist people have shown me is that they do so much meditation, so much learning to control their mind in terms of controlling their emotions, in terms of clearing their thoughts....I guess what I got to see was that these people really, really embrace life. And when 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, in certain circles it’s inappropriate. But seeing them, they have a lot of control over their lives in terms of their emotions and they’re so at peace with themselves and they’re so at peace with nature and with other people. You never feel any friction from them, any anxiety. I mean they’re just so relaxed and laid back. It’s so hard for me to put a finger on it. By going to see these people, see how they can essentially be so happy, especially Tsampa. In the middle of nowhere, I mean forget about telephones and stereos and CD’s and anything. In his very simple life he is so happy. It’s just like I’ve never met anyone who is so happy as he is and who has embraced his family. It’s just everything he does, he’s just so content and relaxed....And realizing that people can be that way, especially in terms of growing up in the States and having so much emphasis on materials goods, and seeing someone lived in this way and have a frame of mind with little, in fact, of any of these material goods that I’ve grown up with. It’s really, really quite amazing. Especially, I’ve tried to show that Irvington [my home town] is very wealthy and very much based on material things and appearance and circles, all that crazy stuff. And seeing that people can really live in a different way. I mean, this little village in the middle of nowhere, there’s about 70 people in the village. I was there long enough to realize that there are all the normal social problems that people, rm not saying that there’s no competition there. People talk about other people, the normal things are there. But also to see this doctor and to see how he is as a doctor also in terms of how he related to his patients. It was very eye opening to how one can live their live....And living with Tsampa, I said before that that was like my real homestay. And really becoming incorporated into this family. It’s totally different from where I grew up. Like doing all the chores in terms of, like there’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 these giant jugs of water to bring back. The wife could carry three times as much as I could. 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 really incredible woman. And then like living with this family and you’re sitting around the fire and doing all the chores and helping cook. Just sleeping in the same big heap as everybody else. I didn’t even take out my sleeping bag and sleep in my Gore-tex North Face. It was like getting under, literally lying up like sardines with the rest of the family. It really showed me that there are other ways to live that are as happy if not much more so than the way that I grew up. 98 fm not saying anything bad about my parents, but just that there are other perspectives to take. And then also being with Tsampa, going around. Going out 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 critically reflect on his own lifestyle in the U.S. His meaning perspectives were challenged as he realized that his own culture’s emphasis on material goods was problematic. He also was deeply impressed by Tsampa’s practice of Buddhism, so much so that he began to practice Buddhism himself. Although the other students did not develop particularly close relationships with their homestay families, a number of the students, such as Megan, Susan, Lisa, Angela, and Greg genuinely liked their homestay families and developed good relationships with them. The two remaining students expressed disappointment in their homestay families and did not form close relationships with them. James had a ten day homestay in Udaipur. He shared a homestay placement 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. James was 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 they had a huge house. They ran a private school. They only spoke English around the house. They spoke a couple of other languages, but they basically only spoke English around the house. Which was terrible for me because I wanted to learn Hindi and all the other students, in their homestay they would practice Hindi. Me, I felt like an idiot trying to ask them to speak in Hindi because they spoke English. Their son only spoke English with his friends because English is a cool, modern language to speak, and if you have a good education you speak English. So, they didn’t, they spoke English all the time. I wanted to practice my Hindi. I felt like such an idiot stumbling around in Hindi with them. 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 they were a very wealthy family. And so we’d wake up every morning with a servant bringing us chay, tea. We’d wake up to bed chay, which is a servant comes and puts a tray down on your lap and gives you a pot of tea, chay. And that wasn’t what I wanted. And we couldn’t say, ‘We don’t want this.’ And I told Ashwin [the Academic Director] that I would have preferred a different family, but by then it was too late because that was where I was. (James, p. 17) 99 The 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 to develop in-depth relationships with people in his host family. It is unclear why the homestay was so short. Furthermore, James expected his homestay family to be “traditional”; he did not expect them to have a westernized lifestyle. He had hoped to challenge himself by living a way of life radically different from his own; instead, he found one that was all too easy to adapt to. Chris was also disappointed that his homestay family in Kathmandu was quite westernized, as well as by the fact that they were Hindu as opposed to Buddhist. He had hoped to study Buddhism while he was in Nepal. Like James, Chris found it frustrating to have to speak in English instead of the language he was attempting to learn. Everybody had a different experience. My family was a Brahman Hindu family. I wanted to stay with a Buddhist family, but that didn’t work out. A couple of kids stayed with Buddhist families. But my family was Hindu, the parents were youngish, like maybe mid thirties, late thirties. The kids were little kids, kindergarten age. He worked for the government so they were a very westernized family. Their oldest daughter had been born in Mississippi. He went to Mississippi for two years to study agricultural management or something lilce that. So he’s been here so they’re very westernized. I mean they live very Nepalese just because you have to be really rich to live what we would consider our western type lifestyle over there. They both spoke English well. It wasn’t that kind of homestay I would have wanted. They really kept to themselves, did their own thing, I had a room. I was so busy with the full schedule 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 traditionally Nepalese. I mean this guy was in the government, had studied in America. We could sit down and talk about American things and stuff like that. I kind of wanted a family that maybe spoke less English. As nice as that was from time to time that they spoke English, they didn’t really help me learn my Nepalese because it was just easier to speak English with them. So that was a problem. I think I rather would have been with a Buddhist than a Hindu family because I find that the value structure and the moral structure that Buddhism sets up is similar to the moral and value structure of Christianity which was something that I was just amazed by. Whereas Hinduism is set up a different moral structure and value structure altogether that I was more uncomfortable with. I mean I could go and sit with a Buddhist family and it was like being with a Catholic family or a Christian family. Just the way they were and things that they found important about interaction with people and stuff like that, was very similar 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 background with the Buddhists. While they had a totally different religion, I think that the 100 social structure and the end morals and sort of day to day values were almost identical. Whereas the Hindus were sort of, like being personable and friendly wasn’t as valued. (p. 20) James and Chris’s relationships with their homestay families demonstrate a dynamic characteristic of all cross-cultural relationships to a certain extent, how preconceptions and expectations can shape cross-cultural interaction. However, they also demonstrate how students 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 one country and culture. “Traditional” or “authentic” culture is often romanticized by students, and when students witness the extent to which westernization has influenced these cultures through colonization, imperialism, and commercialization, they are disappointed. They study abroad in the hope of encountering new cultures and lifestyles, and are disturbed when they sometimes 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 with the 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 of life. One dynamic at work here may be the selection of the homestay families. It is possible that the families who volunteer to host U.S. students may be more westernized or have experience studying or living in industrialized countries, and therefore have an interest in cross-cultural relations. Relationships with People of the Host Culture In addition to the homestay families, students developed a multitude of other cross cultural relationships. Three of the female students and one of the male students became romantically involved with people of their host culture. Danielle’s relationship with her homestay brother has already been discussed. Emily had a relationship with a Bolivian man that eventually led to the detriment of her relationship with her homestay family. However, it should be noted that she did not move out of her homestay to be with Thomas. Rather, she 101 moved because she did not feel that she could live or work there after the conflict. Emily described the relationship: I met him at the fair. I guess I was dating him for about four or five weeks. We met each other and we started dating, and everything moved really fast. And he asked me to live with him. And I really liked him a lot. He was fun, he was older than I was, he was wealthy, which, I got to admit is really fun if the guy will take you to really nice places and pay for it and pick you up in his BMW which is unheard of in Bolivia....He was very slick. So he asked me to live with him, and I said ‘No. I can’t live with you. If this was a Bolivian girl you wouldn’t ask me to do it. You’re asking me because I’m American. And I don’t like 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 really unique experience. And I’m really glad I did. And I don’t mind that that consumed so much of my time. It didn’t bother me in the long run. So I would stay over at his house, we dated for maybe four weeks. Pd say I stayed over at his house, well it started out maybe twice a week for the first week. And then maybe three times. And for the last two weeks, it was rare that I slept at the hotel. No, for the third week I think I slept at his house almost every night. I was living over there. But then we got into a big fight the end of the third week. 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 a great time together. But I don’t know. Some things need a lot more time than others. (p. 25) Emily was disturbed by the expectations Thomas placed on her based on stereotypes about her race, gender, and culture. She was torn between her desire for personal autonomy and frustration with the stereotypes of American woman. This was another instance where a cross-cultural relationship caused Emily to challenge her meaning perspectives and recommit to her value of independence. The relationship also enabled her to reflect on gender relations within 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 and Emily, Megan’s relationship gave her insight into the host culture which she might not have otherwise discovered. The rain forest guide, Jordan and I ended up being together for the next three months when I was in Ecuador. It was really funny because he ended up introducing me to a very different part of Ecuadorian culture that I wouldn’t have been exposed to, because he was an elite Ecuadorian....In a way it was strange because the relationship, the part of the culture I was getting to see was most analogous to my own. Upper class, everyone had gone to college in the 102 States. We would get high together. It was just like, I could have been hanging out at college. It was really funny. It was great....So it became this whole social scene. Actually at one point I would feel bad about it. ‘What am I doing? I’m in Ecuador!’ We went to discos at night. I couldn’t believe what the discos were like. It was like a New York city disco. All the women were wearing black. Tall and lanky, and had these gorgeous bodies, penned hair. I was like, ‘Whoa!’ It was such a weird experience for me. I hadn’t seen it on the streets 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 in Ecuador 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 with him allowed her to view the three perspectives of insider to the host culture, outsider to her own culture, and the third, cross-cultural perspective. He also taught her a great deal about Ecuador 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 four people ever reach the status of National Guide which means that they could guide the Galapagos, they could guide the rain forest, there were all these qualifications, and he was one of them. So he was a plethora of information. He knew everything. People would always say, ‘When’s Jordan coming? I have to ask him something.’ Whether it was where they could go camping or what kind of bird this was. So he was friends with the whole group, and he would 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 would have been like. I don’t think it would have been a worse experience or a lesser experience, but it definitely enriched my experience. I was having this love affair. Everything seemed so much better. You were happy, and this partner that 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 of the cultural sense, he was very knowledgeable. He helped me out a lot, even just with my ISP. He knew people I could call, and he was always giving information. (p. 37) When students become romantically involved with people of another culture while studying abroad, it seems to increase their level of cultural immersion because they develop intense emotional connections to the host culture and country. Once their emotional involvement is grounded in the host culture rather than at home, they feel more free to immerse themselves. 103 Chris developed a relationship with a Nepalese woman through which he gained insight 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 was really, really weird kind of up and down. She was living with her uncle who treated her badly.. ..And she was like 20. It was a weird situation but it was an interesting experience. We still keep in touch. She wants to come to America sometime and she wanted me to marry her and I’m like, ‘No, sorry. lye got things to do yet.’ I hope she comes one day because she’s really nice. She’s like, ‘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 what happens....And she’s like, ‘Every Nepalese woman wants to meet a westerner and go back to Europe because they just treat them much nicer.’ It’s not so much they want to get out of the country. They just know that they’ll have a better life and they’ll have rights and they’ll be respected and they’ll be treated well. Like her aunt had run off with some mountain climber from Santa Barbara or some place out in California. She lives out here now. Lamu is probably looking to do the same thing. It was interesting. (Chris, p. 29-30) Through this relationship, Chris was confronted by the predicaments faced by Nepalese women. In his involvement with Lamu, he could better understand her feeling of fear at the threat to her well-being and her desire to protect herself than he could have if he had only heard about the situation second-hand. A number of students also developed significant cross-cultural friendships. Emily was fortunate 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 these relationships, and she is still in contact with many of these people. One example is her friendship with Maria. I had a good friend who lived a block away from me, Maria. She was a few years older than I am, she was about five years older than I am. And we would go, we would go out to discos. She was considered kind of racy. Not by American standards. By American standards she would be considered pretty tame. 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 ask permission 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, because she was like a regular American to me. She was the best contact I could have found because she was a Bolivian. She knew where to go in Bolivia. She knew what to do, she knew where the good places were to go. But she wasn’t confmed by the boundaries of most Bolivian girls, or many. And so we went out often. (Emily, p. 15) My friendship with Maria definitely exposed me to Bolivian culture in a way that I couldn’t have been exposed by any other American. Because she’s 104 accepted by her culture, and she would drag me along to everything that she did. And I mean, I was taken to house parties, I was taken to birthday parties, I was taken to barbecues and to dance parties. And all these houses and people’s homes. And none of my other American friends got to see anybody else’s home but their host family’s home. Or maybe one other. And I went to scores of places. She was my most important relationship there, culturally I think. (p. 28) Emily admired Maria’s independence in the face of Bolivian cultural standards that required women to be chaperoned. Emily strongly resented this rule, so her friendship with Maria was a form of rebellion. Maria also gave Emily access to other parts of the culture that she would not have seen on her own, allowing her to immerse herself culturally without relinquishing her freedom. James developed a number of intimate relationships in India from which he learned a great deal about Indian culture as well as his own culture. An example is his relationship with Ravi. I became very close to Ravi very quickly. I learned a lot about Indian men from him. He and his friends are very much motivated by honor, by honor and trust and friendship and loyalty. Very, very strong. If something happens to one of them, all their friends would go to bat for him. They’ll do anything for their friends. They’ll go to any lengths to stand by their friends. Friendship is extremely important. Very important. They have very close bonds of friendship. A lot more so than I’ve seen, not that there aren’t close friendships here, but they’re not openly talked about. Ravi is very open about that, and about emotions. And so ifs much more described to your face how important friendship and loyalty are to him and his friends. Where as here it might be important, but you don’t really talk about it that openly. You don’t say, ‘I really value our friendship, and I would go to any lengths to stand up for you.’ I mean, it’s not like that. There it is. I mean, it’s great. It’s wonderful. It’s really refreshing. And we became very good friends. We traveled around together and we learned a lot about each other and each other’s countries. So that was just a good, a very good friendship. We still keep in touch, and we’ll always keep in touch. One thing that it did was it put into a more clear light my own friendships with other people, and how I value certain things in them. What is important in friendships, what is important about friendship, since these ideas of friendship and trust and loyalty were very out, very open, very much talked about. It brought into the forefront of my mind, or at least out of the subconscious. And so I thought about my own friendships more consciously than subconsciously. (James, p. 24-25) This is another example of how cross-cultural relationships function to challenge meaning perspectives. Through his relationship with Ravi, James was able to reflect on friendship, both its value and how it is expressed. 105 Although the overall experience seemed to have a profound impact on Greg, he could not pinpoint any specific relationships that affected him. Rather, the people he did meet and the experience of interacting with people of Ecuador helped him to develop a new perspective on his place in the world. One encounter in particular helped Greg to consider his place as a privileged member of the global community. [O]ne very influential person was this lady Solidad, who was the woman who went with us to the rain forest. And she lived in Quito, and I went out with her one night to some bars and stuff. And I got into this whole discussion with her about what to do now, sort of thing....And I said ‘You know Solidad, it’s really difficult to look at life, to look at your place in life, and you can see your life going two ways. You can either see your life, you can either say, ‘Screw all the problems of the world, they’re too big for me to handle. Tm going to just find my own corner of happiness in this world.’ Or you can say, ‘I can’t live knowing that there are larger problems in the world. I can’t live in my own little isolated world and just forget everything else.” And she said to me, and she’s speaking as a very wealthy Ecuadorian woman. And she says to me, ‘You know, if you can even comprehend that question in your mind, if you can even say to yourself, ‘I have the choice to go either way,’ there’s so many people in this 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 choice to help. And you have to make that choice to devote your life to making the world a better place because you’re a very small percentage. The people who can make that choice are a very small percentage. And it takes all those people to 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 first hand development in the Third World, and she is a very enlightened person, and she’s educated and she thinks the same way I do, and she is surrounded by poverty, and she is one of the lucky few. And so she says herself, ‘I’m one of the lucky few. I’m going to make a difference.’ And so that really made a difference 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 social change. It is within these cross-cultural relationships that cross-cultural dialogue is made possible, leading to confrontation and sometimes formation and transformation of meaning perspectives. Through these encounters, students commit and sometimes recommit to values and beliefs which are challenged, threatened, or placed in jeopardy by opposing cultural beliefs. They also commit to new meaning perspectives, and gain knowledge about their host cultures, the abstract concept of culture, and global politics such as colonization and 106 westernization. It is through these relationships that students become emotionally engaged in the host culture and the learning process. Although this is an element neglected by Mezirow (1991), it seems that emotional involvement and conmitment provide significant opportunities for perspective transformation. Once a student is emotionally involved with a person, and that person challenges the student’s meaning perspectives, the emotional commitment in the relationship makes it difficult for that challenge to be ignored. Relationships With Other SIT Students Some of the participants interviewed developed significant relationships with other SIT students. 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 probably admire almost more than anybody else rye ever met. The more I knew her, the more I kept going, ‘Wow!’ My slack-jawed, wide-eyed, she in her 23 years on this planet has done so much for so many in so many different ways, that it just makes me realize how I’m wasting my time and how I have wasted, squandered away, so much of my time on such trivialities....She was just nominated one of the Points of Light. Last year forty people in the country were nominated Points 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 things she’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 done so much more....I mean, and she’s done so much work with so many different groups. And she still thinks that she hasn’t done enough. We were just hanging out one day on the roof of Randevas where we were staying. And she started crying. 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 anything to stop them.’ AND SHE WAS REALLY CRYING ABOUT THAT. And it was just, she’s done so much but still works, believes that what she’s done is just not 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 I learned 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 really beautiful person. She’s constantly in awe of the beauty of life, which is one thing I totally picked up from her. Just being constantly in awe of life. And it’s such a miracle. This is such a wonderful thing and even if you’re not doing anything 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 alive and there’s so much to be thankful for and appreciate that you should be in constant awe of what’s around you. I could take hours and stifi not finish. So I learned a lot about devotion, dedication, inspiration, motivation, hard work and friendship. (James, p. 26-27) 107 Although this was not a cross-cultural relationship, James’ relationship with Kayla had some of the same effects. It caused him to be emotionally grounded in India and to become connected 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 on his own characteristics. The SIT student groups were important sources for emotional support during times of culture shock, crisis, and homesickness. The relationships that Angela developed with other members of the SIT group shaped her experience by offering emotional support as well as an escape from the cultural and physical conditions to which Angela had difficulty adjusting. Well, with Americans, certainly, I made several good friends, which was a good and bad sort of situation. It was very important to me that I had friends there. I was very glad I did. But at the same time we would sort of feed on each other’s anxieties. 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 one friend 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. We have 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 up with the program and so forth, and just the difficulties of not being able to work after dark because there was no light, stuff like that. But at the same time, I’m really, really grateful for the friends I had while I was there....Some people were very independent. Or I’ve heard people who have done other programs who were very independent or whatever, and they jumped. I sort of waded into the culture, and some people jumped head first into it. Ideally I would have spent more time with Indonesians. If I hadn’t had these American friends, then I would have done that I guess. When I think about it, I sort of regret it, but I also think that I was doing the best I could while I was there. I just sort of wish that I had balanced it a little more. I’m sort of a solitary person given the opportunity, 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 on THEIR 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 still in touch by letter with, I’d say, three people. And they give me news from other people in the program that they’re in touch with. I want to keep in touch with these people because we shared this really bizarre experience together. People want 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 talk about. So having those people to say, ‘Gee remember that time we were all throwing up at the beach?’ is important to me. So I do want to stay in touch with them, as much as possible. (Angela, p. 14-15) Angela had difficulty becoming cross-culturally engaged in Bali because she resisted forming cross-cultural relationships. Anxiety from culture shock and homesickness, which she 108 hadn’t expected to encounter, limited her ability to immerse herself in the culture. Angela looked 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 shaped students’ experiences. Megan, Brian, Jodie, and Chris all had very positive experiences with group dynamics among the students in their programs. Throughout the program, Megan was engaged in close friendships with other students in the group, and was pleased with the group dynamics. Her relationships with other students expanded her horizons, as she bonded with people 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 my close friends from the trip. My friend Amber who lives in Texas. My friend Sean lives in Boulder and I’ve seen him. Stephanie, she went out of the country, but she went to Brown. So when I was in Vermont we used to see each other....I made friends with different people and that definitely enriched my experience. I’m sure you experienced this too. Thank God, you’re going through this experience and you need someone to share it with. And I really just did need to talk to some people. And Amber, who ended up being my closest friend, is this country bumpkin from a small town in Texas, never been anywhere. She’s very different from most people that I was used to being friends 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 the way she dressed or anything, it was more her whole aura that she gave off. We were from such different places, and everything, that I never thought we’d be friends. And she ended up being my closest friend. So that was a good lesson for me, just that, because I always judge people like that. Getting to be friends with 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 formed a good support group for one another, but at the same time, all the students had a great deal of independence from the group. Twenty-two I think, 11 girls and 11 guys. The interesting thing was though is there was like one love interest in the whole thing. I was just amazed because I thought well, 11 girls, 11 guys, this is going to be really interesting. We all got along fantastically, had a few problems, but man rye heard of all other semesters abroad where people cliqued off and had groups. It was just such a wild experience that we all just bonded together. It was just fantastic. But there 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 we all met for the first time at JFK. That’s just cool It was really scary. We were all 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) 109 At one point, Nick [the Academic Director] got all teary eyed late at night and said we were the best group he’d ever had. And we were like, ‘Yeah, yeah, you say that to every group.’ He’s like, ‘No, you guys are different. You stuck together.’ I guess from what both of them said we were a better group as far as group dynamics went. We all got along. There were a couple of kids that were just sort of lame and nobody could deal with but they weren’t alienated, they weren’t ostracized. We just kind of took them in. We all just really pulled together and we all got along well with the directors. He had said that the semester before that everybody had like grouped off in their own little cliques and it got really ugly....With ours I think everybody was so independent that nobody really had a serious need to build small little support groups. Of even support in general. I think everybody could have pretty much done the program by 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, I mean that’s just going to happen, it’s just human nature. (p. 31) Other students encountered problems with group dynamics. Working through these problems and learning to adjust to group living was a part of co-operative learning. Susan liked the other members of the SIT group and developed some close friendships within the group. However, part way into the semester, she had a difficult time with the close living conditions 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 just inseparable. You were always with the same people. And you just have tension that builds up. We were camping. We spent two weeks camping in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, in two or three person tents, traveling in these huge overland vehicles that fit almost all the group in one vehicle. So if you weren’t back at the campsite, you couldn’t leave because you were at a national park and it was dangerous. If you weren’t on the immediate campsite then you were on the vehicles together all the time. Day in and day out. And then 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. And then we went off and did another national park for a week, which was the same thing. So by the end of that, we were just like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ The ISP, I think a lot of people just needed some space to get away from the group and from, you know, everybody handles it differently. Some people just talked about really, what I felt were trivial things. Just missing what I felt were the most important aspects of the trip. Talicing about, whatever, missing hamburgers, or whatever they talked about, always focusing on that versus focusing on the good. They always focused on the bad. But everybody handles it different. By ISP, I was defmitely ready to be by myself. It didn’t work out that way, but I would have liked for it to. (Susan, p. 4-5) Although Susan encountered conflicts with other students in the group, these conificts forced her to be independent and to look to other sources for emotional support. This was a 110 huge step for Susan, who had feared homesickness, culture shock, and isolation during the beginning of the program. Danielle was initially disappointed with the other students in her group, but she developed 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 the people in my group that much. I mean, I did eventually, really like them. But it took 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. This is so lame,’ and who smoked a lot of hashish too. I think that was just their way of dealing with it. A lot of them had really bad home situations in their homestays. They just needed to be figure out their own trip I think....So I think that the three women that I wound up hanging out with were definitely the most healthy. Just really into traveling and a lot of stuff. They’re all so different. I think Jessica, she’s very charming, very impulsive, Latin American, very temperamental. I think she helped me relax a lot. And for some reason we saw each other as highly amusing, but at the same time it was a really good conversation. So it worked out really well. And Beth and I just really got along. We spent a lot of time together. I don’t know what it is. She’s black and so 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 really understand 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 helped her to endure some of the crises she faced during the program. Some students were disappointed with the lack of knowledge and sensitivity of other students in their groups. When Lisa first met her student group, she was surprised to discover that some students lacked some basic precepts of cultural sensitivity. She did not particularly bond with the other students in her group at first, although she did develop friendships later on in the program. We had a group of about 24, and I didn’t like a lot of them that much. I was a Sociology and Anthropology major, and I think there was one or two others who were majoring in that field but it was a lot of International Studies or Third World Development. A lot of very political people. They were really interested in the politics. They really were pretty clueless about being in another culture, or just any sort of cross-cultural understanding. I was really surprised. I mean, we certainly all got along, but I was very surprised at first. I expected to go there and be psyched to be with all these people and most of the time Ijust wanted to get away from them. (Lisa, p. 1) 111 Nicole was surprised at the low level of international awareness of the students in her group. I expected people who were also interested in Africa, not just, there were some escapism for me, but that wasn’t all of me. That was probably the smallest part of my motivation for wanting to go. And I found that for a lot of people it was probably 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 interested academically in learning about the country so much as just because it seemed cool. And I guess I was kind of turned off to the program, not only because I felt like the academic leadership there wasn’t very strong, but I also found that for a lot of people, not everybody, but for a lot of people it was an escape. An escape from parents, sexuality, or boyfriends or girlfriends, all kinds of different reasons. College is too difficult....The other thing that I think amazed me when I got there was the fact that so many people had never seen poverty before. They were completely overwhelmed by the fact that there were people living in houses which were shacks basically. And I would try to say something 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.’ And people just wouldn’t believe me. And the whole issue of guilt, and how do I deal with the fact that there is so much economic disparity, how do I deal with my own privileged position within that, was something that a lot of people had trouble with. And I think every time you face this, there is something within a person 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 so many people had never dealt with these issues before. That college juniors or seniors never had to deal with these questions before really surprised me. And having worked in a homeless shelter, having worked in an after school program which was for low-income families, I felt like I had dealt with those questions before. And certainly you keep dealing with them over and over again. But at the time, it was just really surprising to me. (Nicole, p. 4-5) Emily was initially disappointed by the eclectic interests and personalities of the other students 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 opinion and made some good friends with the other students. What was disappointing to me a little bit though was that, I’m interested in world politics. Pm interested in the social situation of the world. I’m not, as they say, crunchy. [laugh] I mean that’s kind of a bad, I’m not trying to dis on these people. They were good people. But I mean, a couple of them were going down there being like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to start our own political party and help the Natives.’ And I’m like, ‘Listen, go down there and observe them and learn about them. Don’t go down there and try to change them and help them. They don’t want your help. They’re allowing you to come to their country 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) 112 Emily gave an example of the type of attitude that disturbed her, displayed by two women 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, ‘Yeah dude, 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. I don’t know how to explain it. You know, they walked around with their greasy hair 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 every morning. I would put on nylons and shoes, because that’s how I was told women in Bolivia dress. And, as time wore on, I would just put on jeans or something. And the girls I was with would not dress for anything. Which was a point of contention, because they’d say, ‘Why do you have to dress up everyday?’ And I was like, ‘Well, they told us to dress up. They told us to show 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 to people who dressed in a certain way. Which became really controversial because I made friends very quickly with Bolivians. And Bob and Ryan did as well. But none of my other group mates did. None of them. Jill made a couple friends. But by the end of the program, there were five Americans going out with each other constantly, and four Americans going out with Bolivians constantly....Another big thing was that, I think a huge thing was drinking. The five of them really didn’t like drinking, didn’t like going out drinking. And the four of us, I’m not a lush, but I don’t mind drinking. And it’s not to go and get drunk. It’s because it’s a real means of being social in this country. Because there’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 TV if 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 nice the 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 the culture because America’s not a homogenous culture. It’s a lot of people from a lot 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 same thing. (p. 6-7) Lisa, Nicole, and Emily are three examples of ways in which relationships within the student group caused students to clarify their own values and standards of cross-cultural interaction. By critiquing reactions of other SIT students, participants were able to reflect on their own roles as cross-cultural sojourners. Again, this involved a commitment or re commitment to personal belief systems and meaning perspectives. 113 Academic Directors The role of the teacher is a vital one in experiential learning, as was illustrated in the literature review. This position is a complicated and demanding one. Participants expected the Academic Directors (A.D.’s) to fulfill five main functions: to handle program logistics and planning, to be a knowledge resource, to provide an overall context of the academic and experiential curriculum of the program, to offer emotional support for students, and to be a role model of cross-cultural relations. Three students, Susan, Brian, and Jodie developed significant relationships with their Academic Directors. In each of these relationships, the director functioned as a friend and meaningful role model for the student. Jodie had two Academic Directors in charge of her program. One director, Tim, had worked 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 a deep impression on Jodie. Karen had worked in the Peace Corps in Togo, had lived in other regions of Africa, and had been a director of the Cameroon program for the two previous semesters. She became a role model for Jodie. Jodie described her as having a dynamic and impressive way of interacting with people. Karen was really together. She was just awesome, super, she’s totally incredible and a good leader. She worked well with Tim, like they kind of complemented each other in this really bizarre way. She’s totally amazing. rye never been more impressed by someone. Her attitude towards being there, her relationship and position within the community. She had a lot of ties to the place. She was very respectful of people and very open to getting to know them and kind of responsible about her presence there and very aware of what that meant and of following up. She was really into music. She liked music a lot too, so she kind of helped get some of my stuff started. I remember we were going 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,’ and stuff. I was like, ‘How often do you come here?’ ‘Well I came here last time on a field trip.’ They totally knew her. They had deals where she would buy four tapes 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 her like all this free stuffjust because she liked her. She was just that kind of a person to elicit that response from people. And just really sensitive and kind of not afraid to take a position in terms of what it meant to be there. She had her shit together as far as the dynamics of being there and recognizing and dealing with that I guess....I kind of got to know her pretty well. We kind of hit it off and so I might have spent more time, because I think a lot of the issues that concerned her concerned me. And so I spent a lot of time quizzing her because 114 I was really interested. At the time I was kind of considering, I mean I was curious what she thought about a lot of the United States’ relationships with countries in Africa and how it was to be living life based on, I don’t know, just the questions that you ask like, ‘Will I come back here? What did you think about 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. So we had a lot of really good talks about that so I kind of got more of her point of view 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 another arena in which to develop an intricate conceptualization of cross-cultural relations and cultural sensitivity. By observing Karen, Jodie could analyze her own cross-cultural interactions comparatively. Brian’s relationship with his Academic Director, Jean, provided him with another powerful role model in addition to Tsampa. [Tihey are, next to my parents, they are my ideal role models right now in terms of basically how to embrace life and how to get the most out of life, how to see people, how to be compassionate, how to see that there’s more to life than making a lot of money and all of that, and getting myself off of the rat race. Tm very convinced that Tm not going to spend my entire career as a doctor in the States. Tm planning on doing stuff in the Third World a lot, especially in Nepal and with the Tibetans. (Brian, p. 26) He [Jean] has taught me so much because he is a western person who has gone to 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 a western 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 realizing that I grew up in this incredibly lucky situation and that because of my education, because of my parents having money or whatever, I was able to go to Columbia and I was able to get in here [Yale Medical School] and that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to become a western doctor and having trained at this place. And for me to give that up just because I want to live a simple life in Kathmandu or wherever is really foolish when I think about it now. When I was there it was just like I was so content and happy with things and not worried about images, not worried about the social constraints that you have here, or at least the perceived western social constraints. I mean not that there aren’t social constraints when you’re there, of their own. For a while, I was just going to stay and hang out. But then wanting to come back to the States to finish my education, to become trained as a doctor here, knowing that I could go back to the States and finish my education and then have a much greater ability to come back to Nepal and back to Tibet and then use the knowledge that I’ve learned to really help in a different capacity that I otherwise wouldn’t able to. And realizing how lucky and how special my childhood and my upbringing and opportunities I was given. Or just traveling around and realizing what an American passport can do for you. I mean it’s quite incredible. You don’t realize that until you leave the States. (p. 28) 115 So Jean has a perspective that I can associate with and talking to him about not being caught up in the normal track, that danger of going to college, going to medical school, paying back your loans, being on what people consider normal here. 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 I believe in and not being afraid to do them just because it’s not normal by what my friends and what my parents would consider. Jean went to graduate school and he got his degree, had a great teaching job in a university. He was there for a year and decided it wasn’t for him. Sold everything and hitchhiked to Kathmandu. That’s the way he shocked his family. He knew from that year that sort of getting on a treadmill and realizing that he could be on that treadmill for the next 60 years was not the kind of thing that he wants to do and he was able to realize that early enough and able to admit to himself that he wanted something different out of these years. And having the energy and the motivation to tell his parents that he was quitting his job and that he was leaving. Not so much that he’s irresponsible but because there are other things that 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 role model for Susan with whom she became good friends. The other director, while knowledgeable in Wildlife Ecology, was not responsive to the students from Susan’s perspective. Two completely different personalities. Completely different. One of them, ‘Jill,’ she was the original, I think she might have been the original director....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 I didn’t really agree with. Her and the other director, ‘Debbie,’ got a house together, which was in the town we were based in for a lot of the time and was their 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 is a vet, and she practices while the program is not going on, and she’s very scientifically based. Everything is very structured for her. And so she kind of looks at things that way, and doesn’t look at things from a cultural, anthropology, people perspective. It tends more to be numbers, scientific, very cold, is the way she kind of related to a lot of people. Or that’s the way I interpreted it. And so she and I didn’t really talk much....Also she felt very comfortable having a maid in the house and doing her laundry, and stuff like that. And we spent a lot of time in the house when we were in Arusha. So we spent a lot of time there. And she wanted guards at the house. To me things that weren’t really necessary, but she felt that she could easily afford them due to the difference in economics, some stuff like that....And, to me, it’s like, you can clean your own floor and you don’t need to hire a maid. And it went further than that, obviously. If she was comfortable doing it in her household, then she was comfortable doing it other places. Like, when we were on trips and we had people that were driving and stuff like that, she had a dominant way of dealing with them, which I was very uncomfortable with. And Debbie wasn’t like that at all. Debbie was very culturally sensitive. She was in the Peace Corps. I don’t know if that makes a difference. But she definitely was very aware of racial 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 more 116 things, 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 for a 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. So she was the one who brought in the cultural aspect of the program, which is what I was just as interested in. Not just focusing on strict wildlife ecology and conservation. Bringing in more of the issues of people and what happens to the people 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 were powerful role models for the students. Through observation, students recognized admirable approaches to cross-cultural situations on the part of their A.D.’s, and endeavored to emulate them. These relationships helped students to form a third cultural perspective, and to learn skills in communication and cross-cultural interaction. However, aside from these success stories, only two other participants, Lisa and Chris, liked their directors and were pleased with their performance. The remaining seven were disappointed in the low levels of competence or the leadership styles of their Academic Directors. This is a disturbing ratio and it demonstrates that the position of Academic Director is a very demanding job. Angela was dissatisfied with the 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 her assistant director, but she had, really her main credential was that she was married to a Balinese man. Whereas the guy was only a few years older than most of us. And he had done the SIT in Bali program, and had spent a lot of time in Indonesia. And spoke Indonesian fluently. And he was much more acclimated and assimilated and much more helpful. There were so many conflicts between the two of them. They didn’t even like each other. They didn’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’d had no preparation outside of the classroom. It was really frustrating in that respect....She was in her mid to late thirties. Her name’s Jackie. And the guy was David, and he just graduated from college. He was 23 or so. So it was not a good match at all. He was nominally the assistant director. So we sort of viewed then as co-directors, because Jackie was pretty helpless in terms of even getting 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 you guys what to do. If you want to do this, or you want to do that, then it’s your responsibility to go do it.’ But it helped too. So I don’t look back on her fondly at all. David was helpful in that he was very knowledgeable about the culture and 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 she never left. And she was a single woman with an adopted Ecuadorian baby, like five months old....Very cold, not very warm. So she did the orientation, I just never like, you know I didn’t feel that great. She was just, right off the bat, not very warm. Not that she was like a camp counselor or had to be hugging us and stuff. She totally lacked enthusiasm. She’s very straightforward. Like the first day, you would think she would introduce herself and, she was very, she didn’t smile a lot. I can picture her face right now, it was like, she seemed bitter almost. (Megan, p. 10) Emily was also dissatisfied with the emotional support given by the Academic Director, 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. She knew people, she knew the language, she knew how to set up appointments for us, 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 or anything. Like when she talked to us about sex one time, she said, ‘There are condoms in the back room. If you want one, take one.’ I mean that was it. So Diana wasn’t what I needed. I needed somebody who was a lot warmer. I was not sure of where I wanted to be. I had to do this for a requirement, and I told her that the second day. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be here right now. I want to be 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, personal stuff. Like I went to her once and I said, ‘Diana, I’m just really feeling lonely here. It’s not because I don’t have people around me. I do. I don’t know what it is.’ 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 EXPLORE the 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. She was 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 really respect her intellect because to me, she was more of a office manager type of person. She was there to make sure we had the right people come in to talk to us. She was there to make sure we got to where we needed to get to. She was there to make sure our homestay families were okay. She was there to make sure there were no problems with us. She was there to make sure we got to the Galapagos and she was there to pay people and stuff. But as far as I was concerned, I guess she had some credentials, but she never said anything that really impressed me. And she had been in Ecuador for awhile. She had been there for two or three years. And I expected her to have a little more insight into some problems. She really didn’t. (Greg, p. 13) 118 Nicole was particularly critical of the Academic Directors, as well as the structure of the 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 also somewhat taken back by, I felt like if there were two people, one should be Zimbabwean. And I understand that, we had more discussions about this too, and ‘Richard’ informed me that one of the reasons why they had American directors was that a lot of people come over and they have culture shock and they 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 have a Zimbabwean director because the way the classes were organized and the way our activities were organized was very American. They were transplanting an American college into a Zimbabwean setting. And I think that just having that different cultural perspective on how to organize life and how to organize classes, and also in terms of what information you’re giving the students and what texts are available and what resources are available. I think that would have been a very good thing. And they would always tell me, I had these questions of why they needed two directors, and they would say, ‘Oh, it takes forever to do anything here, tracking down and doing phone calls.’ And it seemed to me that it was a lot of clerical work that they could hire someone in Zimbabwe to do. ...But I don’t know. I also understand that it’s tough for a single person from the United States to move over there without a spouse. And their background is Peace Corps, which I guess kind of surprised me because I just can’t imagine them working, doing training sessions for Peace Corps volunteers 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 feel like they had, a, the academic background, and b, I don’t think they were particularly culturally sensitive. Just some of the comments that would come out of their mouths really surprised me. I don’t remember exactly, but some of Richard’s ways he would go up and introduce himself to people. It was very kind of ME oriented, and he’d start a conversation in Shona to show them he knew a little bit, and then he’d kind of laugh about it, then of course start talking in English. And he never really tried to learn anything in Shona beyond a couple of phrases. And he had been there at that point for two years. And the Shona teachers were calling him on it. And acted very self-important at times towards some people, like when we were on the study tour or whatever. Very demanding, 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 Directors demonstrates the importance of the position in terms of offering emotional and academic support for the students. It also illustrates how demanding the role of an experiential educator can be, and how difficult it is to fulfill all the expectations expressed by students, the most important of which is to function as a role model in cross-cultural relations. 119 Conclusion This discussion of student relationships in cultural immersion is vital to the understanding of experiential, cross-cultural learning. Once students are emotionally engaged in cross-cultural relationships, they became engaged in cross-cultural encounters through which their meaning perspectives are confronted and challenged. The more engaged a student is in a relationship, the more the student has personally invested in an experience, and the more that student is open to change. Relationships with people from the home culture provide support and feedback for students, and also provide opportunities for the observation of different styles of cross-cultural interaction. Romantically involved relationships, whether with people of the home or host culture, help to shift a student’s center of the universe away from home and into the setting of cultural immersion. The development of important relationships during the program is a condition which led to perspective transformation in some cases. In general, the closer the bond, the more influential the relationship was in relation to the personal development of the participants. Like the chapter on participant backgrounds, this chapter frames the experiences of the participants in order to discuss transformative, experiential learning. Mezirow fails to emphasize the importance of relationships in transformative learning, and therefore it is difficult to apply his theory to this discussion. It can be seen from a case such as Brian, for instance, that through developing respect, admiration, and caring for another person, a student’s values and understanding of the world can be touched and recreated. The following two chapters explore how students’ meaning schemes and perspectives were challenged and transformed. 120 Chapter Six: Critical Incidents and Crisis Introduction This chapter is a discussion of the psychological intensity of crisis and other incidents of cross-cultural interaction, and the critical reflection inspired by them. It demonstrates the way in which the participants’ cultural values were challenged and confronted by these experiences, leading them to question these values and meaning perspectives. A number of participants discussed incidents and crises which caused them to reflect critically on their own sociocultural 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 students to reflect on their psychological meaning perspectives. Finally, re-entry or the re-integration of students into their home culture forced some to reconcile their new cultural perspective with the old, or to establish a third cultural perspective. It is through cultural marginality that students enter into a state of crisis and then critical reflexivity. This can been seen in examples of student cross-cultural interactions. As Paige (1993) asserts, perceived racism, sexism, or other prejudice in the host culture, being physically different from members of the host culture and feeling highly visible, or feeling a loss of control over cross-cultural situations can all trigger a psychological intensity in students which can lead to transformation. The following chapter illustrates this process. Gender Relations From the data collected, it appears that the experience of being an American woman in another culture was disconcerting for many of the female participants. Every student I interviewed expressed concern about the sexual harassment faced by western women in non industrialized countries. This seemed to be a widespread phenomenon attributed to the media representation of western women as sexually promiscuous, especially women of European- American descent. One student in particular brought the issue of harassment to the forefront. Danielle conducted her own research in this area after experiencing severe sexual harassment and 121 assault during her stay in Morocco. She interviewed a number of other female American study abroad students, and found that many of them had trouble recovering from the sexual harassment they experienced in their host cultures. She discussed from an anthropological perspective how the way in which a person is perceived, for instance as a tourist, a slut, or an immoral person, shapes the interactions that person has with people of a host culture. One of the 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 an intimidating goal when one is confronted with stereotypes that promote violence against women and threaten one’s personal safety and sense of well-being. Danielle described her experiences of sexual harassment and assault: The harassment, it was pretty constant for days on end. Whenever I was in a public place. I got molested a number of times. Like I went to this elevator in this building once, and this guy followed me in. I swear this elevator was only like two feet by three feet if even. It was an old building, it went up to the fifth floor. And he started putting his hands on my breasts and all this stuff. And I was like, I really can’t do anything about this because we’re in a really small place. He was taller than I was, and I think he was really drunk. So I just was like, he started jacking off, and I was like, ‘I have to get off.” Fortunately we reached the floor, and when I got off I shoved him as hard as I could and hit him with my elbows, and I just left. And that was pretty heinous. And a couple times when I was in a crowd, people would start feeling me up. Because the crowds are so tight. And I was followed and yelled at and talked to. It was pretty 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! Got some 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-cous with me!’ ‘La gazelle!’ ‘Hey you are so strong! Are you so strong in bed?’ ‘Do you like to fuck?’ ‘Hey, fuck you Americans - you think you are so great’ (clicking sounds) I was terrified. I gripped my companions’ arms and kept walking. (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 all the time. [laugh] I loved riding the bus because it gave me so much down time. So I started wearing a Wallcman incessantly. And I was like, ‘Forget it. I hate this.’ It helped me ignore them. I sort of understand people who walk around campus here wearing Wallcmans now a little better. But this wasn’t my culture. I can’t deal with this. (p. 18) Although it is important for students to encounter crisis in the experiential, cross cultural learning process for the sake of making meaning and perspective transformation, 122 physical and psychological violation such as this can result in psychological damage and scarring. Danielle reacted to the harassment by wearing a Walkman in public to help her ignore her aggressors, but her feelings of violation were harder to ignore. No student should be subjected to such an assault, and this is not an intention of experiential, cross-cultural learning. This might be categorized as an unstructured, unintended, and unacceptable experience. However, as Danielle herself mentioned, she managed to turn the harassment and assault into a positive personal growth experience by working through her feelings of violation after returning home. Each of the men in this study described incidences where their female peers experienced harassment, and they functioned as male “protectors” or “harassment discouragers” by accompanying women in areas where they experienced harassment. In addition to Danielle, Susan, Lisa, Jodie and Megan all expressed frustration and feelings of intimidation and sometimes danger. Megan described the constant threat of harassment and ways in which she tried to avoid it. I completely understand when you need cultural understanding, and when you live in another culture you have to understand. You have to adhere to what their culture is. But at the same time, you are from another culture and in a way they have to respect you too. I think there’s a mutual respect that needs to happen....The fact that you’re in Ecuador, I guess it’s more your responsibility to. The women there [in Ecuador] suffer from machismo in different ways, but it wasn’t street crap. You can’t even imagine what it was like....I would like try to explain it to people and I get so emotional about it. You can’t even understand. It was like, I would walk down the street, and I would zig zag....Because it’s so warm out, all the men are standing out in front of their stores. 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 gonna walk 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 band and she was single. And she was white, also, even though she kind of seemed Ecuadorian because she’d been living there for so long. Walking with a man, it made all the difference, all the difference. I remember walking with my friend Jake, but still you’d walk by and people would go, ‘Oooooo,’ you know, like staring 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 of the host culture and remaining strong in her own ideals. She came to recognize, as did 123 Danielle, that what she was experiencing was not characteristic of Ecuadorian gender relations and culture, but rather an factor of cross-cultural gender relations between Ecuadorian men and American women. Megan reacted to the harassment, as did Danielle, by avoiding potentially problematic situations altogether. In addition to these women who experienced sexual harassment, Nicole and Angela both 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 she received within the host culture. She did not describe this attention as harassment but rather said it made her feel like a princess. It is difficult to determine whether this was because she had a different attitude towards the behavior, or whether she experienced a different form of attention than the other students did. Besides the problem of harassment, Danielle found that her values of feminism were contradicted by the attitudes of some Moroccan men towards American women. This was demonstrated in her description of her relationship with her host brother, where she felt she had to compromise her feminist ideals for the sake of cultural immersion. She also described resentment towards him wanting to do things “to” her, and feeling like an inactive participant in sexual relations. When Danielle returned to school after the program, she experienced severe reverse culture shock. She felt angry, insecure, and depressed. This was largely a result of the violation she endured in Morocco from sexual harassment and assault on the street, and sexism within her relationship with her homestay brother. As a part of her readjustment 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. I had a really hard time....So one thing that really helped me was, I started tailcing to some other friends who also went abroad. And we started to realize that we had a lot of very similar experiences dealing with harassment...This is the actual paper I wrote last semester, from which my thesis came. I wrote this paper about the harassment for a class, for a woman who’s actually now my thesis advisor. Sort of trying to understand what was going on. And it was really amazing to talk to these women because they’ve been all over the world. They had 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 lot 124 about sexual violence. The symptoms were more or less those that you would attribute to somebody who was a survivor of sexual violence of some kind. So this paper I wrote, basically I just wrote about harassment experiences and analyzing them and discussing how it was at once being white and rich that made you the oppressor, but you were also kind of the oppressed, because they could still flick you back. They were still able to get a handle over us because we’re women. So that was about as far as I got on that paper. And then I proposed in the conclusion the idea of an anthropology of encounters, which is basically, how I’ve developed it and as it stands now, is the idea that the old anthropological model of understanding cultures, which is basically that you go and immerse yourself in a really foreign culture, and the idea of difference is different 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’re more primitive or whatever. Then you go immerse yourself in that culture, write some obscure book on some obscure topic, and come back. I think that there’s a lot of relevance. rm sort of being facetious. That model works, but there’s also a new space. That’s what I’m arguing in my thesis. There’s a new space developing which is basically one [an anthropology] of encounters, cross- cultural encounters that are very significant for the majority of people. I don’t think cross-cultural encounters have ever been the way anthropology would like to imagine them. I think that just now, it’s becoming more and more obvious that 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-cultural encounters that aren’t being dubbed. But they are very significant in terms of shaping what we think of other cultures. For example, traveling, tourism. So my thesis deals with the idea that there is a place, and I’m arguing that it actually 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 own rules and regulations. And when you enter that place, you can’t say rm an American and this is a Moroccan...And if you simplify the harassment to say ‘Oh, this is about tourist meets unemployed man.’ Or ‘Rich American woman meets viral, Arab man,’ to use stereotypes. That doesn’t cut it because there really is a dearth of vocabulary. It’s like this no man’s land of experience and vocabulary. I don’t know how to say it. It was really significant that these women that I interviewed didn’t understand what was happening. Or they understood it, but they couldn’t say, ‘This is sexual harassment here.’ This would 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’s very 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 her to develop a third cultural perspective. As mentioned earlier, she was able to take a number of devastating encounters and turn them into a valuable learning experience through critical reflection as a form of healing. She felt powerless in many situations in Morocco involving her sexuality, and she regained some power over those situations through critical reflection. In attempting to make sense of these encounters, she connected her personal experiences to a 125 conceptualization of the larger field of anthropology, and this resulted in perspective transformation. The sexual harassment and assault Danielle endured highlights the female student’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 feminist encounters, which were an important part of her Independent Study Project. She described one Moroccan woman she met while conducting her research. I went back to the place where I was staying and I got there, and there was a next door neighbor of my friend, and her sister were there. And they were making this huge cous-cous dish for dinner, because it was Friday. So we all sat down and ate and it was really fun. And I started talldng to the sister because the other two were tailcing. Turned out she was the first feminist that I met, the first independently feminist who hadn’t been educated a lot and who thought deeply and intensely about these issues.. ..She was just totally a smart woman. She made a point of smoking hashish all the time, and slept with as many men as she could. She just had so many great ideas. She was really in agony about the choices that she had to make. Between her identity as a woman and as an Arab, and if she wanted to leave. Her family was really important to her, but she knew that she couldn’t be the woman that she wanted to be and the person she wanted to be in Morocco....Feminism to me means seeking out ways that you can define yourself in your own terms, whether that’s economic or whatever. And she was definitely doing that. I think she was the first woman I met who really questioned things that actually by then I had become sort of blind to. One of her friends was a gay man, and she took me to his apartment. And she showed me all these things I never thought existed in Morocco. (Danielle, p. 14-15) In her written ISP, Danielle described her exploration of feminism over the course of the month. I am a feminist who believes strongly in social change. The further I have gotten, mentally and physically, from the protective and challenging walls of feminist academia, the more I have felt obliged to consider feminism and feminist 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 in woman-centered experience, a champion of the value (even absoluteness) of subjectivity, a belief that given a few determined women, everything was possible. Now, after 3 1/2 [çJ months in Morocco, I am more of an Adjusted Feminist, whose major concerns are dealing with the annoyance of harassment and understanding a culture as patriarchal as Morocco’s. (ISP, p. 1) Danielle describes how the crisis of cross-cultural gender relations in Morocco caused her to confront and alter her conceptualization of feminism. Although this discussion does not mean to imply that this form of crisis from violation is at all desirable in learning process, it is 126 noteworthy how the crisis led to perspective transformation. Other women also found it difficult to be an American woman in their host cultures. For instance, Lisa was unable to reconcile her feminist ideals with the Muslim religion. Also, as was discussed earlier, Emily was frustrated by the restrictions placed on her personal freedom by her homestay grandparents and other Bolivians. The homestay was not the only place Emily found her freedom restricted. This was a problem throughout her stay in Bolivia. Emily was constantly finding her freedom restricted because of her gender. In the middle of the program she wrote this essay in her observation journal, entitled, “Machismo”. [Note: Once again, this paper is written in the Description, Interpretation, Evaluation format.] Description: Yesterday I wanted to go to a movie by myself, so I went to Plaza Central to check out the billboards of what was playing and at what time they were 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 in an hour and a half. He asked me to have a coke with him while I waited, and I resisted, but he insisted, so we walked to a cafe. On the way he ordered me to walk slower. When we got there, he ordered a bottle of soda. without asking me what kind I wanted. After a glass, I wanted to excuse myself and leave, but as I did, he filled my glass again, disregarding what I was saying and told me to finish 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 then invited himself to ‘accompany’ me to the movies, because he said, a girl shouldn’t go to the movies by herselL I then told him that I had forgotten that I have 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 with a male acquaintance, he has the right to tell me how to pace my walking, he can override any decision I try to make, and he can invite himself to spend time with me on the excuse that women shouldn’t spend time on their own. What exactly are my rights? My rights are to a free glass of coke with a guy who I don’t want to spend time with ordering me around and inviting himself to the movies with me. Evaluation: Rage. Fury. I am most definitely not a Bolivian woman. No one has the right to tell me how fast I can walk, and if I want to spend time in their company, I’ll say yes when they invite me to a drink, and I’ll invite them to go to the movies with me. This machismo bullshit that gives him the right to treat me like a 5-yr. old [jc.] is complete bullshit and the source of most of my frustration in this culture. It drives me NUTS!! She reflected on the affect of these standards on her understanding of gender relations in her home country: 127 My relationship with my host family was interesting. It defmitely made me sure that if I ever live in a South American country I want to have the means to support myself and give myself my own freedom. Several of the relationships I had with guys in South America were very indicative of the male I female relationship in the country. Which makes me very thankful that I’m an American. I think that there are traces of that in every culture, of the male domination of women and I mean, in this country women like to be, ‘Oh we are so free. We are so liberated.’ And yeah, to some extent we are. And I feel as though I am liberated as an American woman. But comparatively, if this is the most liberated country, it’s not really that liberated. I mean, if we were really equal, 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. But it did open my eyes to how much sexism there is in this country. Because a lot of what I saw there is just toned down here. It’s the same thing. It’s just not as blatant. (Emily, p. 28-29) I said to Diana ‘If I was a guy, would they have these restrictions on me?’ She said ‘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 on it. I come in when I want to. I wake up when I want to, I do what I want to.’ I said ‘Yeah, but say you didn’t come home one night?’ He’s like ‘Emily, I’m a male in this culture.’ I couldn’t do that. And in the United States, if I called my parents and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m staying over at whoever’s house tonight.’ If I was like ‘Oh I’m staying over at this guy’s house just by myself,’ it would be like, ‘Oh, you are?’ But I mean, if I was like ‘Me and this girlfriend and this guy and this other girl and this guy, we’re all going to stay over at this guy’s house,’ they’d be like ‘Oh, have fun. Come home tomorrow morning. Don’t do anything dumb.’ I just couldn’t stand it here. I haven’t had a curfew since I was seventeen. (p. 30) By encountering blatant sexism in Bolivian society, Emily was able to reflect on how the same problem exists in her own society in a different form. Problems such as these can shape 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. These women have no outlet to counteract this type of aggression with which they are confronted. In order to make this type of educational experience a friendly one for women, these issues must be further investigated and arrangements should be made in programs to assist women in dealing with these problems. One of the male participants also had some interesting observations of Nepalese gender relations. Chris made many comments in his journal and in the interview concerning his attraction to the beauty of Nepalese women and Asian women in general. This seems 128 characteristic of U.S. attitudes towards women of color, and Chris brought this cultural baggage 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 kind of partial to Asian-Indian women to begin with and then I was in a country full of them and there was like every shade in between....Nepalese women, they’re just the sweetest. And the husbands treated them like crap. I don’t know if it’s just 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 loser husband who would treat them like crap. I was like ‘Listen guy, wake up buddy.’ ...My homestay mother was miserable. Being a woman in Nepal is just not fun. There is a growing women’s movement and we spent like a whole week in the thing on it. There’s these Nepalese women that are into women’s rights and women’s medicine and stuff like that, which was great. And a lot of the girls did their ISP on it. But they have a long way to go yet. It’s just really too bad....It got weird sometimes. She [my homestay mother] would come to all upset and crying. ‘It’s miserable!’ And she’d get whinny and stuff. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, it wasn’t my place to say anything. While her husband was a really nice guy, he just treats her traditionally how Nepali men treat women. It’s just not nice. I felt bad. It was a tough situation. And the women put up with these guys who’re just idiots....It seems to me like it’s just sort of a mind set of a poor culture. You see the same thing in poorer cultures in America. When times are tough and when things aren’t going well, the men that are traditionally superior, physically superior to women, tend to beat them or take advantage of them or control them or whatever just based on size. And they intimidate them and whatever because they can. I don’t know, but you find it’s like this a lot in the Third World. It’s something I don’t understand. (Chris, p. 29-30) Race Relations Issues of race in cross-cultural interactions formed another area of crisis and psychologically intense experience for students. In the neighborhood of her homestay in Nairobi, Kenya, Lisa was often overwhelmed by the attention she would get as a “mzungu” or white person. She was used to having a lot of personal space and time alone in the United States, 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 get home, oh, one day I was just in the worst mood and this was horrible, and I got off the matatu to come home and all the kids are running around and they’re saying, ‘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’s mzungu.’ [laugh] I was just in the worst mood, it was like I had been there two weeks and I was near tears and then I went in the house and ten kids came in. I was just trying to drink my tea and cookies. I was just sitting there and they were all standing around just gawking. [laugh] I was ready to cry. You can never escape it. It sounds like it would be fun for now, for a day or so, but then there’s just no escaping. (Lisa, p. 10) 129 Lisa experienced culture shock largely as a result of all the attention she received as a Caucasian woman. This caused her to reflect on race, racism, and labels. She also reflected on her place as an American in Kenya. It was constantly being looked and shouted at. Like the things that day with the kids all staring at me. And that was, that was the big thing. Always being looked at. Just always being an issue. Something that always bothered me was always trying to be hustled something on the street. You’re a block away from where you live and every day it’s like, ‘Here buy this carved animal.’ It’s just so tiring and you’re like, ‘No, no, no,’ and of course you say ‘no’ and the guy gets pissed at you and thinks you’re rude and that got really tiring. I just wanted to feel like I belonged there. (p. 36) I think I went through culture shock late. Like everyone kept saying it would happen like three days after you were there, and I think it was two or three weeks after I was there. ‘Cuz I just loved it at first. I was absolutely in love with it, then I got sick of the kids staring at me. What I was reading about [in my journal] was getting on a matatu. Like it was one of the matatu stops where there are ten matatus and they’re all trying to get you to get on theirs, even though you have no desire to go there. [laugh] And this one, they were like, ‘Mzungu, mzungu!’ [laugh] and they started fighting over which matatu was going 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 got on 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. I couldn’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 wrong time. There was another matatu pulling, like we were sitting and it was sort of pulling out and the window was down and a guy reached out of the window and was like, ‘Oh mzungu!’ and blowing kisses at me. He really had nothing to do with 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 the same. I guess I can be glad that Pm only here for four months whereas a black in America would have to deal with it their whole life. ‘But maybe it’s better this way because what some Kenyan’s would say and what our directors would point out, is that it’s not always derogatory. It’s just, they call each other the different tribal names. It’s just how they recognize each other. They do it a lot by their looks....So in my journal I was talking about, ‘Well maybe this is better than American culture. At least it’s like recognizes that you’re a mzungu and you’re a Kenyan. I guess that’s better than being privately, or silently discriminated against, in like getting jobs or not.’...I think that changed just with the situation and who was doing it. I was just trying to look at the positive side of it too. I was trying to relate it, I remember sitting there trying to relate it to American culture, thinking how it’s so much better in America but then I was like ‘But it’s really not. It’s so hidden and silent.’...It made me realize how when older people or southern people say that they don’t mean anything discriminatory 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 calling them. It made me totally understand that. Like not that I agree with it, and I don’t know If I agree with it or not, I still don’t know. I guess I don’t. I know I don’t agree with it, but it just made me understand it, how you could just grow 130 up and it’s just like a name. It’s just what you call them. And like I said I wouldn’t agree with it but it made me understand it... .1 guess it’s sort of biased with 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 me to imagine someone being so obvious. I guess what we were saying about mzungu, being so obvious about someone being black and making it such an issue that they wouldn’t be prejudice against them. I understand it. I guess rm not 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 be totally accepting of this black person as an equal human being. If they can do that while saying ‘nigger’ or if there’s still inherently something discriminatory about them saying it. (p. 17-19) When Lisa was confronted constantly by her color and the rarity of a “mzungu” living in a traditionally black suburb, it caused her to think about race and the social structure of her own society. She tried to distinguish between instances of racism versus those of simply racial identification. However, in the interview she did not discuss any reflections on racial segregation in Kenyan or American society, or how racism requires the identification of an individual’s race. The experience of being highly visible in Kenyan society forced Lisa to confront her own racial identity, but it is unclear whether she had an understanding of the larger political and social picture from which to assess why her color was the center of attention within her neighborhood. Brian also reflected critically on his relations with Tibetans and the impact of his Chinese heritage on those interactions. His SIT group had a study tour to Tibet. It is somewhat difficult for westerners to gain access to Tibet. Although the group eventually obtained travel visas, they had to be guided by a Chinese government escort. Brian was perceived by Tibetans as a Chinese person, so his interactions with Tibetan people were complex. Jean is a Belgian fellow and very Caucasian as well as everybody else in the group, and then there is myself who’s Chinese and the bus driver who’s Chinese and the Chinese official and a tour guide. So the four of us were Chinese and so 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 speak English. I ended up being the liaison between the Chinese government people and the group. This tour guide barely could speak English. Absolutely ridiculous. So every time we saw these Tibetan people, they would come up to me and they would ask me what I was doing with these Americans. I was never included as part of the Americans, I was always part of the Chinese contingent 131 in this group, and so never was I able to convince somebody that I was an American and part of this group. I was always part of the Chinese government officials that were coming around with these Americans....So that was one side of it. And if I were with two of my American friends and we were just walking in the streets, when they came to us they would see me as Chinese, they would instantly start talking to me in Chinese. But then as soon as I started speaking Chinese, then I was instantly, definitely Chinese and then all these walls came up because then we couldn’t talk about the dialogue, we couldn’t talk about anything because I am part of the Chinese government and I would tell people and they would be arrested and what have you. And so I quickly learned to pretend not to speak Mandarin and to speak only in the little bit of Tibetan that I knew and to speak in English, not that they can speak English, but to speak English with my friends just so that they saw me more as American. So when you speak Mandarin all these walls go up in terms of learning about the Buddhist culture and going into these monasteries. There were instances where the group, where Jean was speaking Tibetan, he’s fluent in Tibetan, he’s spealdng to these Tibetans and trying to get us to see certain parts of the monasteries that we would never be allowed to be a part of. And a lot of times I became an issue because even though Jean could explain that I was an American, they would allow Jean and some of the other students to go in but they were very hesitant to let me go as well because they thought I might be a Chinese spy or I might be part of the government, they might be reported for having shown this part of the Tibetan culture to westerners. Because they’re very aware of what the Chinese want and don’t want. And they’re ready to do anything against the Chinese government. But seeing me as Chinese, it put a lot of interesting dynamics between the group and between myself and the Tibetans and myself and other Chinese people.. ..There were times when I would politely bow out when I knew that it was a difficult situation. But it wasn’t ever a blatant situation where ‘You guys can come but he can’t,’ just because the Tibetans by their nature and being very cautious about what they’re getting themselves into. They would not blatantly say ‘Well he’s Chinese so he can’t come in,’ because if I were a Chinese official then I would know that they’re, so I would suddenly have something to do and I would go off with some other people and do things. At times it was incredibly frustrating and at other times I just knew that I had to do things according to the way things work there. Speaking Mandarin allowed me to really break down a lot of walls, in the other sense, because my communication could really be efficient with some of these people. There were countless people, both monks and lay people, who after I spoke to them long enough, they’d realize that I was truly not Chinese and not interested in suppressing them or what have you. And then lots of doors open up just because communication was very good. We wouldn’t have to go through a translator, we wouldn’t have to wait for Jean to come around and speak to these people.. ..I was probably more fluent in Mandarin than most of the Tibetans because the Tibetans can speak Mandarin because they’ve been dealing with the Chinese for so long. But in Eastern Tibet they prefer to speak Tibetan because that was their native tongue. It was a really interesting dynamic that opened up. Doors were closed in some areas and wails were put up, 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 about the Chinese. It’s just like we would see these Chinese military guys coming in with their guns and whatever and feeling like they own the place and then the Tibetans by their nature are huge. Like these big guys with big knives looking down at these little Chinese people and so it was like, along with my fellow Americans, we could joke about it, we could really have a lot of hatred and a lot 132 anger for the Chinese. But on the other side I always knew that these people are Chinese and I have this tie with the Chinese because by blood I am a Chinese. It was interesting. (Brian, p. 16-17) For Brian, dialogue was critical in establishing his identity with Tibetans; he looked and spoke like the oppressors of the Tibetan people, and yet he genuinely wanted to learn about their culture. He wanted to speak Mandarin in order to achieve a deeper level of communication since most Tibetans did not speak English and Tibetan was difficult for westerners to learn. Mandarin did afford Brian some opportunities for dialogue on a deep level. Ironically, his fluency in Mandarin also closed many doors for him. Thus, the intensity of these experiences was felt on a number of levels. On the one hand, Brian was physically different from the Tibetans and felt highly visible among them. On the other hand, he felt that his identity as a supporter of Tibetan liberation from the Chinese government was invisible to the Tibetans. It was critical in these situations for Brian to identify himself as a supporter of the Tibetan people. However, this was not always possible, and the cultural marginality that Brian experienced as a result was extremely frustrating. Conflicts such as these caused Brian to experience an identity crisis as a Chinese-American. This personal crisis led him to travel extensively through Nepal, Tibet, and China after the program ended, in order to search for his roots, identity, and family heritage. After the end of the program, Brian spent another month working in western Nepal with Tsarnpa, the docior he studied with during his ISP. Then he spent two months traveling in Tibet and China. Brian became fully immersed in the Chinese culture, and he lost all contact with his home culture in the U.S. This deep immersion caused Brian to reflect on his own cultural values, beliefs, and practices, and leading to a transformation of meaning perspectives on a number of different levels. Brian described how the program led him to his decision to travel, and how through his travels he was able to resolve 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 it illustrates the potential power of experiential, cross-cultural learning. So the most important moments, in terms of cross cultural experiences, in terms of changes that I’ve had, was my first couple of weeks in Dharamsala and 133 northern 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 with western this, western that. I was very much into doing whatever I wanted to do in an eastern type of perspective. (Brian, p. 6) I had no idea what I really wanted to do at the end of the program in May, during the third week in May, and I had always thought that I would just go climbing with two of the other guys