TL8: “Global Responsibility” Danielle Tomlinson, Amsterdam Netherlands

 

In Becoming World Wise, Slimbach talks about the consumerist and the stereotypical American study abroad student. He describes this individual as a pampered twenty something with little preparation who arrives at the program site mostly clueless and rarely breaks away from the exclusive company of other foreigners that dress and act as they do. I’d be lying to myself if I said that I hadn’t come across individuals like this, or even done this myself. There have been countless of times in France, when I am missing the comforts of home and simply revert to speaking English with the other study abroad students. I’ve also observed that there is some truth to the description of a study abroad student. Many of the students in my program, I’ve found, were not exposed or even educated somewhat on the culture of our host community. Study abroad is much more than doing classes in a foreign country; moreover, its about engaging individuals and immersing yourself in a culture unlike your own. It’s easy in a study abroad programme to stick to the comforts easily found within one’s program and not challenge yourself to learn more. “American students may not have the stars and stripes sewn onto their backpack, or see themselves having the much in common with their ‘tourist’ counterparts on luxury cruises and package tours” (Slimbach)

 

Slimbach eludes to something that has become so engrained in the study abroad culture, buying souvenirs, taking a couple pictures; essentially, doing everything superficial but not adding any real meaning to the study abroad experience. Especially in a city like Paris, known for its tourism, everyone speaks English and the culture of Paris has been swayed somewhat by globalization.  I found this interesting as we discuss the various individuals you could find when going through a rite of passage, such as communitas and tricksters. But I find that in this situation that tricksters can often be mistaken for communitas, as individuals rarely venture outside their comfort zone. However, in an effort to become a global citizen and assume our global responsibility I believe that students must go beyond their comfort zone, and what ‘feels like home’ and learn about the local culture and the socioeconomic issues within their community. According to Slimbach, “educational travel, like tourism generally, is ambivalent. Under certain conditions it can enrich the cultural and socioeconomic life of host communities while providing us with us unequaled resources for reshaping our world awareness, self consciousness and style of life”

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