27 May, 2012

Exploring identity through a short study abroad experience

Recently an innovation award was granted to the University of Kentucky and the German Fulbright Commission for their twin programmes Discover USA and Discover Germany. These twin programmes share a common mission, namely to provide an opportunity to students from underrepresented groups in both countries to reconsider their own concepts of identity through an international experience at each other's academies. Students of diverse backgrounds from the University of Kentucky (minority, Appalachian, or first-generation college students) go and study in Berlin, and German students who are immigrants or first-generation citizens are sent to study at the University of Kentucky. What are the success factors one may well ask ? Briefly put, the overarching goal is to allow students to reflect on the concept of "otherness" in local, national, and global contexts. As they bond with each other and acknowledge their differences, they also affirm their German identity, and compare their feelings of inner versus outer identity with the ways that they are perceived by U.S. students. Similarly, the American students on the Discover Germany programmes are members of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority or are first-generation college students. Whereas they see primarily their differences before the travel experience, once they are in Germany they also grapple with the dissonance between how they see themselves and how others perceive them. In other words, their study-abroad experience, alongside their own personal circumstances, turn them into keen observers of how citizenship, identity and nationality are defined and how cultural, racial, ethnic and religious diversity is experienced in other countries. The Germany—Discover USA programme is fully-funded, takes five weeks and is an authentic academic experience for these students. As educators across the globe agree that developing an international perspective is essential to students’ educational goals and their potential to become thoughtful, contributing members of our interconnected society, not many universities actually succeed in fulfilling this noble ambition. This is an inspirational example demonstrating how this can be achieved. For the American university involved in this programme it is an essential part of their strategy to implement internationalisation on their campus. Found through the website of University World News.

23 May, 2012

12 May, 2012

Mapping Stereotypes within and outside Europe

From London-based designer Yanko Tsvetkov come these Mapping Stereotypes in the shape of calendars, mousepads, prints on t-shirts etc. etc. 

And, just in case you are wondering, here's how he introduces himself:
"My name is Yanko Tsvetkov and I’m a freelance graphic designer and a visual artist. I am known as alphadesigner, a pseudonym that usually makes people think what I do is really important. That’s why I chose it."
A series of amusing, often tragicomically true maps of Europe based on various subjective perceptions and ideologies, states Maria Popova on Brainpickings. 
Here is the world seen through the eyes of the USA, for example:


Recently returning from a stimulating and inspirational European spirited conference on volunteering, I wouldn't dare to display an image map of European stereotypes, amusing though they would be for the beholder .... so I suggest you check these out yourself .... and snigger.