Feeling Silly and White: The Impact of Participant Characteristics on Study Abroad Experiences

Feeling Silly and White: The Impact of Participant Characteristics on Study Abroad Experiences

Denise Davis-Maye (Auburn University Montgomery, USA), Annice Yarber-Allen (Auburn University Montgomery, USA) and Tamara Bertrand Jones (Florida State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1057-4.ch022
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Abstract

The following chapter provides an overview of the Summer Institute on the Welfare of Women in Belize (SIWWB) and highlights the results of a mixed-methodological evaluation of the project funded by United States Department of Education Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad program. The objectives were for 12 higher education and K-12 educators to study Belizean women's historical and contemporary issues; study the cultural heritage and contributions of ethnic groups; study the legacy of participation of women of African ancestry; to examine access to economic opportunity and advancement for women of African ancestry; and finally to develop curricula that will prepare students for an increasingly global and interdependent world. The chapter will present a stimulating discussion of the results of the evaluations, challenges experienced in successfully implementing this faculty-led study abroad experience, as well as highlight best practices and provide recommendations for best practices for future projects.
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Background

As countries around the globe become more connected via social media, and more frequent travel, it is a cultural imperative that our students know more about the other inhabitants of this planet. Stohl (2007) argues that globalization will present increasing socioeconomic and political burdens which will have to be addressed by the next two generations in a manner unheard of since World War II. The efforts toward global awareness, internationalization, and global education must extend beyond the “cultural awareness” pedagogy which often provides shallow content. Villegas and Lucas suggest that key to preparing culturally responsive educators is the exposure to and exploration of the cultural backgrounds of their students. However, others suggest cultural awareness is not, by itself, sufficient. In fact, educators must not only investigate the diverse cultures of the world and the students they serve, but examine their understanding of their own cultural identities and the intersections between culture, privilege, power, race, and gender (Gay, 1999; Sleeter, et al., 2004; Villegas & Lucas, 2002). Freire (2000) describes this acquisition of understanding as critical consciousness.

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