Learning activities for use with the Interculture Project Database: Students' Accounts of Residence Abroad

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The information generated by doing these searches can be presented in various different forms.

Advice leaflet: Produce an advice leaflet, based on this research, to be given to students like yourselves going abroad.  This can be a collaborative activity done in small groups or in the group as a whole.  (See also the search for advice activity for more information on this.)

Letter to yourselfWrite a letter to yourself, giving yourself advice about the placement, that you can look back on at the start of your time away.  (Departments could also arrange to have these sent to students in the first couple of weeks of their time abroad.)

Presentation: Make a presentation to the group about the expectations that you now have about your period of residence abroad, and how these have changed through working with the database.

Interview with returnees: Use the information that you have generated to write questions for an interview or focus group with people who have just returned from being [assistants / workers / students].  (Returnees can prepare for this by doing the reflection on experience exercise.)

Essay: Write an essay relating to one or all of the questions you investigated.
Search for Advice

Using the database as a resource which students can draw on for advice about their intercultural experiences introduces the idea that the students themselves can take some responsibility for the success or otherwise of their time away, and can help them to start to develop explicit strategies for intercultural experience.  The production of 'advice leaflets' offers students a resource which they can take away with them and use for later reference.  This activity also familiarises students with using the database as a resource for advice which can also be used while they are away, as they encounter new and challenging issues.  The variety of different experiences on the database demonstrates the limitations of any single piece of advice, and the need to adapt to circumstances while they are out there.  Finally, working with returnees can enrich the static information presented on the database with live interaction.

1.  Students discuss the concept of what a 'successful intercultural experience' might consist of.  What are their own criteria for successful interactions?  When have they experienced successful and unsuccessful intercultural interactions, either abroad or in their home country?  What sorts of strategies have they adopted to try and ensure successful interactions, and what strategies have they used to repair unsuccessful interactions?

2.  Students are given the task of preparing a leaflet entitled "How to Have a Successful Intercultural Experience", and use the database as the main research tool for the production of this leaflet.

Students are divided into groups, each of which searches the database to explore a specific topic which will form a heading in the leaflet.  For example, a general list of topics related to the way the search form is arranged runs as follows::

  1. Meeting people

  2. Relating to host culture members

  3. Aspects of society

  4. Coping with your feelings

  5. Finding things to do

  6. Language and communication

  7. Accommodation and administration

  8. The work environment

Each group synthesises their research into a few paragraphs and / or a set of bullet points, which they present to the group as a whole.

3.  The group discusses how they experienced researching the leaflet. 

  1. What difficulties did they encounter?

  2. Had they thought about strategies for having a successful intercultural experience before?  Had their ideas about what might be a good strategy changed at all?  Had they generated any new ideas which hadn't occurred to them before? 

  3. What had they learnt from the database? 

  4. What are the benefits of giving students advice before they go away, and what are the limitations? 

  5. Do they think the database would continue to be a useful source for advice when they are away?  What other resources are there available to them which they can draw on for advice?

4.  The advice generated by each group is brought together to form a single leaflet, which is then reproduced and distributed to the group as a whole.

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