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Internationalism
Written by Corina Mihaela Paraschiv   
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 02:17

For those who will go back to classes at a university, making the most of your remaining time there is important. So are finding ways for you to use the knowledge you have brought back and the new perspectives you have acquired. The following lists should give you a start on how to accomplish this crucial step.

 

These lists are only a small sample of the many ways in which you can apply your overseas knowledge and experiences as you get settled into your routine at home. Of course, some of you may decide that overseas travel, work, and study is not only fun but something you want to do much more of, perhaps even considering a career abroad. A few of you will even go abroad a second time on study abroad or faculty exchange.

Whatever the result of The Scholar Ship experience, we hope the information provided here helped you prepare for the adjustment of coming home. Wherever you are, welcome home!

 

Academic Courses

To the extent possible, select remaining courses that will build upon the TSS experience and both deepen and broaden your knowledge. Doing so can provide you the opportunity to apply your newly gained understanding and skills in relevant areas in such diverse disciplines as history, political science, sociology, anthropology, international development, art, area studies, economics, and more.

If involved in English or journalism courses, write an account of some important aspect of your study abroad as part of a class assignment. If you like the effort, offer the article to the university’s newspaper or submit it to a local newspaper. Editors are often looking for local human interest stories. Even if you are not currently required to write about your experience, you can try your hand at being a freelance author. Guest editorials, personal opinion sections, travel sections, and first-hand experience types of newspaper formats are potential places to begin.

Your university may have a speakers bureau where you can register and specify the topics and areas of interest in about which you are willing to make public presentations. Audiences for these presentations are always appreciative of opportunities to hear about new places and people.

Study abroad offices on campus may sponsor an occasional forum where a group of students can discuss their time overseas and answer audience questions. If your school has orientation or cross-cultural training courses for students before they go overseas, you could volunteer to give a short talk to them about things you think they should know before they go abroad. You might even be able to work as a student teaching assistant. International offices are always looking for volunteer help and most would welcome such offers. It is an excellent way to apply your new skills and knowledge as a benefit to outbound students.

Many universities have experiential learning components in their curriculum or offices that will arrange internships in local organizations for academic credit. Since many communities have both businesses and non-profit organizations that could use experienced student assistance, this is a natural avenue to explore as part of your post-return adaptation. Businesses that deal in or with international marketing, import-export, commodity exchanges, cargo carriers and shippers, etc., are possible candidates, especially those in joint-ventures or who are part of multi-national corporations. Non-profits include refugee and resettlement agencies, cross-cultural health care agencies, local charity or immigrant centers, micro-banking and development organizations, legal aid, literacy and work-preparation programs, and much more. All of these can be good additions to a resume, as well provide personal satisfaction. Such experience is also attractive to future employers.

 

Additional On-Campus Opportunities

Offer to organize a film series of modern classics from the countries you visited for the student union or a modern language department.

Contact your campus international student office and offer your services as a contact person for incoming foreign students before they get to campus and immeately after arrival. This can be done very effectively through the Internet.

Consider becoming an academic mentor or student advisor for an international student if your institution has such programs.

If your campus has an international students association, attend a meeting and meet some members. You may find that you will have much more in common with them as a result of your own study abroad experience than you might suppose.

 

Community Organizations

Volunteer at local secondary education institutions to talk to history, international studies, and government classes about your overseas experience. Schools are always looking for interesting outside speakers for the classroom and assemblies.

A good outlet for your slides, videos, and other media could be a local organization that is interested in hearing about travel experiences (think Rotary, RYE, Rotaract, and RYLA, for instance!). Through the venue, you could combine your pictures with a narrative of your experiences during a presentation. Sometimes these are associated with photography or travel bookstores, but they are also found at local library branches, senior citizens organizations, adventure sports stores, etc.

Seek opportunities to act as a cultural bridge for community-based organizations involved in international exchange such as Sister Cities Associations, Kiwanis, and Rotary Club. You might volunteer to translate for, or host, short-term international visitors.

Organizations such as Youth for Understanding and AFS Intercultural Programs are devoted to international and intercultural exchanges for high school students and are constantly looking for local trainers, mentors, and resource persons. They provide an excellent opportunity for you to play a very direct role in helping young people make the most of their overseas sojourns and the return home.

A wide range of local non-profit organizations – from women’s centers to migrant or immigrant assistance programs – are always looking for individuals with intercultural skills and experience. Internships, paid and unpaid, can often be arranged.

 

Daily Life Practices

Become aware of and seek to apply cross-cultural skills in your everyday interactions.

Cultivate intercultural sensitivity, especially across ethnic, religious, socio-economic, gender, and sexual orientation lines. Be aware of differences and how you evaluate and react to them.

Try new experiences at home in the same spirit you once did abroad. You could try new ethnic restaurants or cuisines you are not familiar with (and, of course, if possible, find a good restaurant that serves food you came to appreciate overseas). Or you might attend a holiday celebration or public event of a group you know little about (e.g., Hmong New Year, Vietnamese Tet, Sikh Baisaki, Hindu Holi, German Octoberfest). Respectful and curious visitors are always welcome.

Push your comfort zone. Keep trying to find new ways to view the world, new ways to experience human culture, and new ways to interact with those who are culturally different from you. If you look for it, there is often as much cultural diversity in domestic contexts as there was abroad. It just may be a bit harder to see at home because most people operate within a relatively restricted and narrow set of social situations at home compared to their adventures overseas.

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 March 2009 02:32 )
 
 

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