Publication Date

5-2008

Abstract

With the rapid growth in demand and expansion of work abroad programs, it has become crucial to vigilantly design curriculum to support those programs so that the participants will have the fullest enriching experience possible. A successful program should yield a life-changing experience where its participants gain the necessary tools to function effectively in an interconnected modern world. Creating a curriculum whose ultimate goal is to ease cultural adaptation is the goal of this paper. This capstone describes the Flagship LanguageCorps program in Ecuador, a teach abroad program rapidly expanding into developing countries. The paper develops an orientation curriculum whose primary objective is to diminish cultural shock. Cognitive understanding of concepts underlying culture shock and behavioral coping strategies serve as the framework for the design of the learning experiences. The proposal includes direct presentation of highlights of Ecuadorian culture, activities that encourage the development of awareness of acceptable behavior codes, and trips that allow bonding and reflection time away from the routines of study and work. Sessions in Spanish support and reinforce the sessions in English. Personal contact with the local program facilitator is a key element to determine participants´ level of anxiety and to intervene timely. The curriculum includes a pre-departure phase, an intensive on-site orientation program immediately following arrival, and follow up support that extends into the participants’ actual work phase. The schedule of the program serves to avert anxiety before it occurs and to counteract any anxiety that does occur after an initial honeymoon phase.

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