Cross-Cultural Learning and Mentoring: Autoethnographical Narrative Inquiry with Dr. Malcolm Shepherd Knowles

Cross-Cultural Learning and Mentoring: Autoethnographical Narrative Inquiry with Dr. Malcolm Shepherd Knowles

Pi-Chi Han, John A. Henschke
DOI: 10.4018/javet.2012070103
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Dr. Malcolm Shepherd Knowles popularized andragogy as the theory of adult learning and was referred to as the Father of Adult Education in the United States (US). As his doctoral students, the authors had extensive personal contacts with him. This paper utilizes the method of autoethnography to explore how cross-cultural learning and cross-cultural mentoring facilitate transformative learning with the development of intercultural competencies for sojourners when they interact with a significant human being in cross-cultural settings.
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Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” - Albert Schweitzer

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE, 2011), 690,923 international students were enrolled in American colleges and universities in 2009/2010—an increase of 30.45% over the period from 2000 to 2001. International students from Asia represent the largest group and make up 48% of the entire pool of international students in the US (IIE, 2011). In the fall of 1992, one of the authors was one of those Asian international students in the US.

Switching from one culture to another means not only a change of time, climate, and living conditions, but also a change in daily life and social norms. “Change, however positive, may still be stressful” (Carnevale, Gainer, & Meltzer, 1990, p. 220). In the research literature, international students confront issues and problems pertaining to social adjustment, linguistic proficiency, emotional adjustment, and acculturative stress (Church, 1982; Cui & Van Den Berg, 1991; Hammer, Gudykunst, & Wiseman, 1978; Olivas & Lee, 2006; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1994; Ward, Bochner, & Furnham, 2008; Wong, 1991). Many researchers indicated that international students work hard to achieve a high level of success (Copeland & Griggs, 1985; Fontaine, 1989; Grove, 1990; Gudykunst & Hammer, 1983; Nelson, 1986). Scholars (Hunter, 2008; Kauffmann, Martin, Weaver, & Weaver, 1992; Kraft, Ballantine, & Garvey, 1993-1994; Taylor, 1994) confirmed that study abroad produces a certain level of personal change and competence development. Much the same could be said about students who have worked and lived in a non-educational culture of one part of the United States of America, and then moved to another part of the USA to pursue a doctoral degree in an educational culture.



The nature of this study is interpretive research. As Merriam (2009) explains: Interpretive research, which is where qualitative research is most often located, assumes that reality is socially constructed, that is, there is no single, observable reality. Rather, there are multiple realities, or interpretations, of a single event. Researchers do not find knowledge, they construct it. Constructivism is a term often used interchangeably with interpretivism (pp. 8-9).

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