As I read the first chapter of Slimbach’s text, I found it fascinating to see the generalizations placed on American study abroad students. It pained me to read the portions of this chapter that I knew carried a validity, and that I could change but haven’t. I also read some of his points that stung because they had been generalized to all of us Abroad students, even though they did not apply.
Even though I do not have “stars-and-stripes patches sewn onto [my] backpack,” I do sometimes feel like I have the word ‘American’ stamped on my forehead (Slimbach 16%). Whether it is in my accent (that people oftentimes refer to as Canadian so they ‘don’t offend me by asking if I am from the States’) or in my inability to walk barefoot around town and the shops because my feet cannot handle the abrasive sidewalk textures, the people around me can usually pick up on the fact that I am not Australian. I do not think that this is because I am ignorant to the cultural norms, or because I am trying my best to integrate a fraction of the American culture into my time here, as Slimbach eludes to.
I do, however, find his statement shortly after to be fascinating in its truth. He writes, describing abroad students as “pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation, arrive at the program site largely clueless, and rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners” (Slimabch 16%). In the set-up of most programs, Study Abroad students are arranged to live with other Americans, around other Americans, and in buildings that consist majorly of Americans (at least this is the case with my program and many others that I know of). My most frequent contact with Australians tends to be on the bus, running errands, or at townie locations like the beach. I decided that I was not interested in uprooting my normal routines and placing them in a different country with the same ideals. I found that in doing so, I would not leave room for personal growth or ability to experience all that I desired. Because of this, I have put in the conscious effort in my daily actions to not allow myself to be my biggest barrier in cultural immersion. I think that the standards of global responsibility set out by Slimbach greatly apply to study in developing countries, even though I think that certain aspects can be implemented into studying in already developed countries as well, especially cultural consciousness. However, when he writes on the array of poverties, or the presence of starvation, it is hard to title this a global responsibility when its presence mirrors that of my home country. This is why I think that my global responsibility, although similar to my community responsibility at home, entails dropping my coins in the hats of those on the street, or even participating in the ‘Homeless Ban’ rally that occurred while I traveled through a larger Australian city of Melbourne. Regardless of the parallels of this responsibility to those at home, I find it equally necessary to reach out to bridge the gap that exists around the world.
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.