International Educator - January/February 2014 - 42

5) What kind of technology will you
have access to while abroad?

Designing the Course
If the faculty background and relationships,
institutional support, and logistics are in
place to plan a collaborative research course,
what else should you keep in mind in planning the course?
You want a project that is academically
rigorous, and yet achievable in the time allotted. Our students worked together remotely
during the semester that led up to our trip,
and then had two weeks to work together
in country (interspersed with lectures, field
trips, and cultural activities) to craft a substantial research paper and public PowerPoint
presentation. The students worked hard, yet
the results varied enormously. To give the
students the best chance for success, set clear
goals and deadlines from the beginning. Have
deliverables due early on so that problems can
be addressed then. Be available to provide
feedback at every stage, and be flexible.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR J A N + F E B .1 4

Schedule In-Country Time

42  

Remember you are working with young
people. Our students were serious and
committed to their projects, and yet it was
overwhelmingly compelling to spend time
just having fun with their new Brazilian
friends. And that was part of the point. Be
sure to include social activities and downtime
in your schedule. Your students will learn
more, and they'll be more productive, if they
get to relax and have fun as well as study.
Anticipate cultural adjustments, fatigue,
sickness, and distraction. Your students
will probably not be as productive academ-

Green Mountain College students visited Alto Ribeira State Tourist Park (PETAR)
in São Paulo State; visiting the park allowed the class to explore the impacts of
ecotourism on the Atlantic Rainforest and communities near the park.

ically as they would be at home, but they
will be learning other important lessons.
They also may be traveling abroad for the
first time, or they may have a terrible cold,
have eaten meat accidentally, or have fallen
in love. The goal of the travel course is not
just to produce a research paper, it is also to
learn through new experiences in another
country. Make sure to allow time for these
"unexpected" distractions.
Plan time and space for check-ins and
processing. Brazil is a quickly developing
country in many ways not so different from
the United States. Yet our students struggled with things as simple as eating lunch
(How do I order? Is there meat in that?). In
doing the collaborative research projects,
our students also had to learn to respect
and accommodate the academic priorities of their Brazilian peers and professors,
which were sometimes very different from
their own. Dealing with cultural differences
can be disorienting and exhausting, so it is
important to set aside some time for your
group to discuss what they are experiencing.
Plan an achievable end-point and appropriate recognition. Joint research
papers could go back and forth in editing
until all the students involved have graduate
degrees, which isn't the point. We planned
a public presentation for our last day oncampus in Brazil, which meant the projects
had to be complete. We might have gotten
more polished work if they had kept working on them for the remainder of the trip,

and after, but it was more important to be
finished and have time and space to reflect
on the process. You also want to plan some
official recognition of the relationships that
have been built through this collaborative
process. We had a final dinner, complete
with presents, hugs, and tears, to acknowledge the friendships that had grown out of
the pressures of working together.

Conclusions, Reflections,
and Surprising Take-aways
It is important to balance the product and
process of a short-term course abroad. In
addition to hoping that students would finish the course with a greater understanding
of the struggles developing countries face in
creating clean water systems, eco-tourism,
and sustainable urban development, we
aimed to give our students the opportunity
to practice cross-cultural communication and
to learn about the challenges of working in
another culture in professional and academic
settings. When you schedule your debriefing
sessions, write journal prompts, or have informal check-ins with your students, be sure
to devote time and energy to the cultural adjustment issues as well as the more academic
ones. And if the academic product sometimes
takes a backseat to the collaborative process,
remember that the process may be where the
most important learning is taking place.
Also, anticipate that cultural differences
will present both expected (language, food,
attitudes toward time) and unexpected (PowerPoint) challenges, and be prepared to use
those challenges as learning opportunities.

ANNE COLPITTS

We used Skype during the semester preceding the trip to introduce the student working
groups and start the research projects. Once
in Brazil, our students were able to use computer labs with internet access at our host
institutions. Their final presentations were
done on PowerPoint. This was all possible
because we were in a highly developed region
of a rapidly developing country. If the on the
ground conditions where you will be working are markedly different, you will need to
plan your projects and outcomes accordingly.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - January/February 2014

International Educator - January/February 2014
Contents
From the Editors
In Brief
Storytelling— International Style
Puzzle Masters
Lone Star Looks Abroad
Education Abroad
Foreign Student Affairs
View From Out Here
Forum
In Focus
International Educator - January/February 2014 - International Educator - January/February 2014
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Cover2
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Contents
International Educator - January/February 2014 - From the Editors
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 3
International Educator - January/February 2014 - In Brief
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 5
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 6
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 7
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 8
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 9
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 10
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 11
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 12
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 13
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Storytelling— International Style
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 15
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 16
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 17
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 18
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 19
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 20
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 21
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 22
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 23
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 24
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 25
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Puzzle Masters
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 27
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 28
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 29
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 30
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 31
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Lone Star Looks Abroad
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 33
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 34
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 35
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 36
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 37
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 38
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 39
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Education Abroad
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 41
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 42
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 43
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 45
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 46
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 47
International Educator - January/February 2014 - View From Out Here
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 49
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 50
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 51
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Forum
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 53
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 54
International Educator - January/February 2014 - 55
International Educator - January/February 2014 - In Focus
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Cover3
International Educator - January/February 2014 - Cover4
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