IIE Networker - Fall 2006 - (Page 27)

Feature Heritage-Seeking and Study Abroad: A Case Study Findings For heritage-seeking students, education abroad is an exploration of their own identities. While most education abroad students expect to be challenged by the culture, heritage-seekers often expect to feel a sense of homecoming and acceptance. Heritageseeking deeply affects the program choice process. The research exposes a high level of self-identification. One student writes, “Yes, my decision was related to my heritage. I was adopted from Korea and wanted to return for the first time.” Similarly, another student shares, “Hmong people were originally from China so I wanted to see where my ancestors were from.” Further, the research shows that students often chose their study abroad location based more on heritage than academic major. Parental support affects program choice in varying ways. Some parents are very supportive, even proud, of students going abroad to connect with their culture. However, several students noted that their parents did not support their heritage-seeking. One student quotes his parents in saying: “We won’t pay for you to study abroad in India. We can tell you what you need to know about that.” Additionally, some parents are shocked by the desire to return to a country that the parents had left in order to provide a better life for their family. In regard to the heritage-seeker’s lived experience during their sojourn abroad, each student’s experience is very different. However, six common themes emerged from the study. 1. Students find that they benefited from their heritageseeking experience. One student noted, “I got to see my roots, and I learned a lot about myself and my family.” Despite the individual experiences of heritage-seeking, most students return to the United States feeling empowered and with a new sense of identity. 2. Heritage-seekers find that their identity as an American is deeply changed. This phenomenon can take two forms. By Stacey Bolton Tsantir and Bradley J. Titus Heritage-seeking is “selecting a study abroad venue because of family background—national, religious, cultural or ethnic” (Szekely, 1998). was student time constraints, which led to lower response rates than hoped. Heritage-seeking students are drawn to their host country and culture, not because it is unfamiliar and new, but rather because it is somewhat familiar. Traditionally, the heritage-seeking discussion has focused on European-American students (i.e., IrishAmerican students going to Ireland or Italian-American students going to Italy). Instead, this article, based on case study research, will focus on heritage-seeking students of color. The University of Minnesota provides a unique perspective to this case study because of its diverse population. Though the education abroad experience of a heritage-seeker is in many ways similar to that of other students, it also is also unique. In order to increase representation of students of color in study abroad, study abroad professionals must consider these differences. The research objective of the case study was to understand how the heritage-seeking phenomenon affects education abroad program choice and the education abroad experience. There were two research questions: (1) How does heritage effect program choice? and (2) What is the experience of heritage-seekers during their sojourn overseas? The bounded unit for this case study was the group of undergraduate students who have studied abroad through the University of Minnesota and self-identified as students of color. Three formal research methods were used in the study: (1) document analysis and literature review, (2) survey, and (3) interview. This article will focus mainly on the results from the survey of approximately 50 students and several follow-up semistructured interviews. The interviewed students represent varied backgrounds and include Asian-Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, Chicanos, and Hispanics. The main limitation for the study

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2006

IIE Networker - Fall 2006
Contents
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Leading the Way Toward True Global Engagement: A Challenge to American Colleges and Universities
The Lincoln Commission and the Future of Study Abroad
Destination India: Opportunities and Challenges for Expanding Study Abroad in a Nontraditional Location
Heritage-Seeking and Study Abroad: A Case Study
State Department Resources
Short-Term Programming
Community College
GLBT Issues
Standards
Branch Campus
Central and Eastern Europe
Freshmen Study Abroad
Research
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2006

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