Publication Date

2006

Abstract

The island-style study abroad program model is criticized for isolating students from the host culture. Considering study abroad in London, England, there is further concern that because American students share a common language with their host culture and because London is a multicultural, cosmopolitan city, the study abroad experience in London is under-estimated and under-appreciated. This phenomenological study focuses on four field study abroad staff at the Syracuse University London Program (SULP), a semester-long, island-style, study abroad program, to investigate their perceptions of the student experience on the SULP and their role in that experience. Each staff member participated in three one-on-one interviews which took into account their own history of intercultural experiences in addition to their day-to-day work at SULP. This study revealed that staff believe students leave their semester in London first and foremost having developed new awareness: of themselves, their home culture and their host culture. Also, the interviewees were easily able to relate their own inter-cultural experiences to their work with the students. Awareness was a vital element, in both the student experience and staff's life experiences, contributing toward the goal of intercultural competence. The results of this study can be used to evaluate the priorities and execution of program staff duties and their alignment to the organization's goals and marketing campaigns. The importance of intercultural experiences and awareness of developing intercultural competence should be integrated into staff training and hiring criteria.

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