Publication Date

9-1998

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Paul Ventura

Abstract

This paper explores characteristics of short-term educational programs to developing countries which appear to enhance the level of cultural awareness among their participants. This topic seems relevant at a time when the tourism industry is quickly becoming the world's largest employer and when travel to remote regions of the world is becoming increasingly accessible to the North American public at large. The author interviewed tour administrators and group leaders from five educational travel organizations and one college, all of which are based in the United States, to ask questions pertaining to participant demographics, cultural orientations, cross-cultural interactions with people in the host destinations, and opportunities for post-trip applications of learnings.

Data gleaned from these interviews point to several effective aspects: cross-cultural interactions that allow for spontaneity and participant initiation and active participation in the betterment of the host community; adequate preparation for the engagement in these interactions; intra-(tour) group diversity and support; and group leaders who are skilled in experiential learning principles and group dynamics and familiar with the host culture. The research demonstrates the inextricable link in educational group travel programs among the following factors: increased self-understanding, the development of cultural awareness, and the group process.

This paper will enable organizations which provide any type of short-term educational programming to consider ways to improve their services and enhance the prospects for cultural growth in their clientele.

Disciplines

International and Comparative Education

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