Publication Date

2006

Abstract

Study abroad is an opportunity for students looking to gain skills in an increasingly global world. As professionals we constantly talk about sending more students abroad because students are able to gain cross-cultural competencies. However, by increasing numbers of students going abroad, are we helping foster this cross-cultural competency that is so vaguely defined? As professionals we need to scrutinize what we are already doing with our students and make sure that upon their return they are able to understand and utilize their experience to the fullest. This research explores reentry program participation and how much students perceived they have learned 10 months after their return from abroad. It examines how Beloit College fosters continuous learning upon return from studying abroad, how much students take advantage of these opportunities, and the initiatives students take on as continuous learners. Fourteen students who studied abroad on Beloit-sponsored and non-Beloit-sponsored programs to various countries for one semester responded to two surveys. Nine members of Beloit College's faculty were interviewed to determine their role in reentry programs, in encouraging students to share their experiences in class, and in their perceptions of how students change and grow abroad. The findings indicate that students' perceptions changed during the 10 month period, though students were not using the Beloit College structure reentry programs. Nevertheless, students are participating in a range of self-structured reentry activities that help them to continue to learn, process, and reflect on their experiences. In addition, faculty has a potentially powerful role in students' continued learning, encouraging them to utilize their new skills and knowledge gained from abroad.

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