In Country Orientation for College Semester Abroad Students
This training was developed in order to address the need of first time study abroad college students to enter into the culture in which they have chosen to live and study as learners and observers rather than experts. It is designed not to take all the bumps out of the road but to help students identify what is hindering a smooth journey. This training is designed to be used on the first morning of arrival in the country. It begins with an icebreaker. It is assumed to be part of a longer training (of three or four days) in which gradually students would have tasks in the area near the training center to begin to function in the culture in groups and independently. The longer training would include experiential components with time to reflect and learn from the group before finally joining their host families. In this training session students are first asked to consider more deeply their expectations for the semester in the context of what others have given and are expecting of them. They are then asked what they are willing to give to get what they came for. The students identify cultural baggage including stereotypes, expectations and assumptions. They observe and identify stereotypes of Asians and of Americans to see the two-way flow of stereotyping. They process the affects of stereotyping and look at Bennet's Model of Intercultural Adjustment to begin to understand that entering a new culture is a process. The students play a simulation version of Bafá, Bafá in order to experience entrance in a new culture, look at their behavior and reactions and reflect on: their own cultural thinking and feelings, their assumptions, expectations and stereotypes, and the development of observer strategies. Finally, they hear reflections of another student who wrote about being a cultural beginner like they are.