Study Abroad in Guatemala: Self-Assessment, Cultural Empathy, and Global Citizenship

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2016-11-08
Authors
Reiter, Lauren
Embry, Mary
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Abstract

Study abroad has become a primary vehicle for internationalization at colleges and universities, supported by studies that show student outcomes demonstrating cultural learning, openness to diversity and intercultural competence (Niehaus, 2012). There is less known about short-term study abroad programs, with results mixed as to their efficacy with internationalized student learning goals. This study looks at how to understand and prepare students for fair trade and community engaged learning by evaluating personal characteristics in particular as predictors to success in a short term fair trade and sustainable product focused travel abroad experience in Guatemala. . Research was conducted through 9 scales and 52 items used in this study consist of the Beliefs, Events, and Values Inventory (BEVI) research instrument (2013). For this study the instrument was scaled down to less items focusing less on students backgrounds and more on student self-access (emotional attunement, positive thinking, self-awareness), other access (socioemotional convergence, sociocultural openness, socioreligious traditionalism) and global access (gender traditionalism, ecological resonance, global engagement). Pre and Post t-tests were conducted to understand the differences between the students understanding of global context. An additional qualitative portion was included post trip consisting of 3 experiential reflection open ended items also from the IBEVI (2013) instrument. Based on the findings of this study H1-H3 were accepted. Interesting findings regarding the qualitative portion of the study include references to increases in internationalized perspectives, including global citizenship competencies. These include recognizing individual and cultural differences, critiques of cultural values, curiosity about participating in a global world, and understanding interconnections across geographic regions.

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