Slimbach talks about how the way students study abroad in today’s world seem to travel with an entitled mindset focused on consumerism. In his view, students gain “…little of the new cultural knowledge, language ability, and perspective change that marks a well-traveled mind”. (2010, pg. 35) In his eyes, the students that travel abroad in this age are going simply on a vacation instead of going to gain a new perspective and to help the world. They focus on what souvenirs they are going to bring back and the trips they are going to go on instead of seeing the neighborhoods around them and the political issues of the country they are staying in.
In his analysis of this character, Slimbach goes on to recall Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca quoting, “’I stick my neck out for nobody’ and ‘The problems of this world are not my account’ are his constant refrains. But in the end, he acts with moral commitments bigger than himself.” (2010, pg. 36) However I think Slimbach is contradicting himself here; he is saying the words of Humphrey Bogart but also pointing out that the character also acted in the way he thought was best. I think there is a similar attitude occurring when students travel abroad. On the surface, students will take thousands of pictures documenting all of the amazing new things they got to experience in their time away from their home. At the same time, these students are experiencing things a world away from what they have grown up around their entire lives. This is something that is going to spark new thoughts running through their head.
Being students, we are very impressionable when we experience things that break our comfort zone. I mean who hasn’t been at the stage in their lives when they haven’t bawled their eyes out due to a movie that made you feel things? In our time abroad, we are experiencing people we never had before, which is going to break the students’ horizons. Heck, we may see things that our parents weren’t even aware of. With this new information, we learn about the good and the bad in the world that is hidden from the public eye and we learn more about what is right and wrong. Just because the thousands of pictures taken aren’t of political issues or the homeless people passed on the street doesn’t mean that the student isn’t experiencing things, it means that they know it would be insulting to take pictures, that experiences such as those aren’t meant to be photographed but rather contemplated. With this contemplation comes a plan for action.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Kindle for Mac.