Cross-Cultural Experiences At Home

Providing opportunities on the home campus or in the local community for prospective teachers to engage with people from other countries or cultural backgrounds that differ from their own can be a time- and cost-effective way to broaden horizons. Students who are unable or reluctant to leave the country can be introduced to international students, visiting faculty, or immigrants in ways that help them learn about the world and build their cross-cultural skills. 

Appalachian State University facilitates intercultural interactions through its Appalacian Community of Education Scholars program.  Students are provided the option to live with international and exchange students in a globally focused living-learning center through the program, which allows them to meet and interact with students from a variety of different national and cultural backgrounds.

Other institutions have created programs to partner international students who want to improve their English with education students for English conversation practice.  Some programs include a reciprocity component as the American student learns about the international student’s home country and language.  

At The Ohio State University, teachers in the Master’s Program in Education are required to participate in internships with local international organizations if they are unable to go abroad for study. These students often choose to work with organizations involved in refugee resettlement, learning firsthand what refugees go through when settling into a community, its schools, and services. Others volunteer with literacy or health programs that provide services to immigrants and refugees. All these service-learning experiences add to teachers’ skills and knowledge of diverse cultures and the processes of cultural adaptation.

At Indiana University, students can student teach on a Navajo reservation through the American Indian Reservation Project or in Chicago throught the Urban Project. In both programs, students are expected to live and participate in their host communities in order to truly facilitate cross-cultural learning.  Both opportunities are offered through the School of Education's Cultural Immersion Projects, under the direction of Laura Stachowski.  Students in an undergraduate Spanish course have been given the option of participating in a community volunteer effort that includes a research component about immigration. They create and implement lessons for Spanish speakers that help develop their language skills and the children’s knowledge of their own cultural development. The linkage of such service learning assignments to undergraduate classes encourages students to interact with international, immigrant, and other communities historically underserved and underrepresented in higher education.

Finally, pre-service teachers can participate in student teaching in globally oriented schools and classrooms. For many years, global educators in six school districts near The Ohio State University mentored pre-service social studies teachers and team-taught their methods courses.  As P-12 schools around the country become more internationally oriented, opportunities are created for student teaching and other field experiences in globally focused classrooms.

Faculty and Campus Strategies: 
Resources in the Field: