Saturday, August 4, 2012

6/29-  The "Tourist"

Tonight in class, we talked about study abroad and what “touring” can mean.  There is a big difference between a meaningful cultural exchange versus a party abroad.  There are also issues concerning funding available for students because it is such a costly endeavor.  Is the study abroad candidate only one that has the means to do so? What about those that cannot afford the extra expense of these programs- is it merely a tool of the wealthy for the perpetuation of existing social hierarchy?  Of course I understand that there are scholarship opportunities and grants for some students, but those are typically reserved for those with extraordinary academic accomplishments- at least at the University of Virginia they were when I attended until 2005.  The Lincoln Report as well as the other readings pointed to a need for increased study abroad participation (Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program, 2005). This may prove problematic unless specific money is dog-eared from state and national governments to support these programs and students.  Since the current student population that partakes in study abroad programs is mostly caucasian females, perhaps other demographics could be encouraged to participate as well.  The benefits can be great and are worth the investment of time and money- as long as students take the opportunity somewhat seriously and don’t merely view it as a party abroad.   Intercultural exchange has the potential to increase empathy and understanding for other cultures, which is important in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world.

Traditional Fish Soup at Liguria
(Sasha Harrison, 2012)

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