Title

Building Intercultural Competence through Travel - A Case Study of Agnes Scott College’s Journeys

Subject Area

Study Abroad

Abstract

In today’s multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual world, it is expedient to develop intercultural competence for effective global interactions. Indeed, the ability to understand and communicate across geopolitical and cultural borders is an indispensable ingredient for dialogue, peace, and progress.

In recent times, a variety of approaches have been adopted to build intercultural competence. The most popular approaches are learning a language and its culture, experiential learning, project work, co‑operative learning, role play, simulation and drama, theater, poetry and creative writing, service learning, ethnographic tasks, films, texts and images, as well as social media. These formal, informal, and non-formal tools provide opportunities for individuals to develop understanding, appreciation and respect, which enhance intercultural competence.

Unfortunately, not much has been written about traveling, which teaches us new places, new people, new cultures, and unfamiliar customs. It opens our mind and broadens our horizons; it builds our cultural sensitivity; it pushes us out of our comfort zone; and it helps us to know ourselves more intimately.

Within the framework of Agnes Scott College’s Journeys, specifically, Journeys-Martinique[1], and using the following research questions, this paper seeks to examine the effects of the travel experience on participants’ intercultural competence building:

  1. How does travelling equip individuals for effective communication and interactions in culturally diverse settings?
  2. Which aspects of Journeys-Martinique actually enhanced knowledge and understanding of host community, self‑knowledge and self‑understanding, as well as overall intercultural competence?
  3. How did OSEE[2] help participants move beyond cultural assumptions and acquire cross-cultural understanding?
  4. Which components of intercultural competence (attitudes, knowledge and understanding, skills, actions, global citizenship) did the travel experience equip participants with?
  5. What travel factors can hinder the spontaneous acquisition of intercultural competence?

In addition to personal observations, participants completed an exit questionnaire, which included focused feedback on their experiences. An analysis of the data collected demonstrated that the one-week travel experience, like most mindful travel experiences, enhanced intercultural competence building.

[1] Journeys-Martinique examines the postcolonial problematic in Martinique as a direct result of the colonial experience. Besides pre-departure seminars and workshops, the one-week travel component includes lectures, seminars, workshops, excursions and site visits linked to the course content, educational system immersion, experiential learning, as well as service learning and exchanges with local artisans, schools, and children’s homes. This study tour is designed as a dynamic and interactive exploration of Martinique through a variety of lenses. It takes a developmental, holistic, and experiential approach to intercultural learning, which enables participants to engage in meaningful intercultural communication.

[2] Observe what is happening; State objectively what is happening; Explore different explanations for what is happening; Evaluate explanation(s). This tool that provides a practical way in which individuals can respond more objectively in intercultural situations (Storti, C. (1994). Cross-cultural dialogues: 74 brief encounters with cultural difference. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.) in Berardo, Kate and Darla K. Deardorff. Building Cultural Competence: Innovative Activities and Models. Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2012.

Brief Bio Note

Philip Ojo teaches French and Francophone studies at Agnes Scott College. His research focuses on Francophone literature with a concentration on Africa and the Caribbean. He is also interested in global issues, particularly migrant experience, as well as expressions of identities and social conditions in popular culture as a platform for criticism, change, and nation building.

Keywords

intercultural competence, travel, journey, multicultural, global, understanding, dialogue, communication

Presentation Year

October 2020

Start Date

10-22-2020 3:45 PM

End Date

10-22-2020 4:25 PM

Embargo

11-12-2019

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Oct 22nd, 3:45 PM Oct 22nd, 4:25 PM

Building Intercultural Competence through Travel - A Case Study of Agnes Scott College’s Journeys

In today’s multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual world, it is expedient to develop intercultural competence for effective global interactions. Indeed, the ability to understand and communicate across geopolitical and cultural borders is an indispensable ingredient for dialogue, peace, and progress.

In recent times, a variety of approaches have been adopted to build intercultural competence. The most popular approaches are learning a language and its culture, experiential learning, project work, co‑operative learning, role play, simulation and drama, theater, poetry and creative writing, service learning, ethnographic tasks, films, texts and images, as well as social media. These formal, informal, and non-formal tools provide opportunities for individuals to develop understanding, appreciation and respect, which enhance intercultural competence.

Unfortunately, not much has been written about traveling, which teaches us new places, new people, new cultures, and unfamiliar customs. It opens our mind and broadens our horizons; it builds our cultural sensitivity; it pushes us out of our comfort zone; and it helps us to know ourselves more intimately.

Within the framework of Agnes Scott College’s Journeys, specifically, Journeys-Martinique[1], and using the following research questions, this paper seeks to examine the effects of the travel experience on participants’ intercultural competence building:

  1. How does travelling equip individuals for effective communication and interactions in culturally diverse settings?
  2. Which aspects of Journeys-Martinique actually enhanced knowledge and understanding of host community, self‑knowledge and self‑understanding, as well as overall intercultural competence?
  3. How did OSEE[2] help participants move beyond cultural assumptions and acquire cross-cultural understanding?
  4. Which components of intercultural competence (attitudes, knowledge and understanding, skills, actions, global citizenship) did the travel experience equip participants with?
  5. What travel factors can hinder the spontaneous acquisition of intercultural competence?

In addition to personal observations, participants completed an exit questionnaire, which included focused feedback on their experiences. An analysis of the data collected demonstrated that the one-week travel experience, like most mindful travel experiences, enhanced intercultural competence building.

[1] Journeys-Martinique examines the postcolonial problematic in Martinique as a direct result of the colonial experience. Besides pre-departure seminars and workshops, the one-week travel component includes lectures, seminars, workshops, excursions and site visits linked to the course content, educational system immersion, experiential learning, as well as service learning and exchanges with local artisans, schools, and children’s homes. This study tour is designed as a dynamic and interactive exploration of Martinique through a variety of lenses. It takes a developmental, holistic, and experiential approach to intercultural learning, which enables participants to engage in meaningful intercultural communication.

[2] Observe what is happening; State objectively what is happening; Explore different explanations for what is happening; Evaluate explanation(s). This tool that provides a practical way in which individuals can respond more objectively in intercultural situations (Storti, C. (1994). Cross-cultural dialogues: 74 brief encounters with cultural difference. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.) in Berardo, Kate and Darla K. Deardorff. Building Cultural Competence: Innovative Activities and Models. Stylus Publishing, LLC., 2012.