How does community impact the education abroad learning experience?

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University of New Brunswick


Rising influences of nationalism and xenophobia threaten peace, stability and progress in an increasingly globalized world. Education abroad claims to address these concerns through mobilizing students to foreign countries. This study examines a short term, faculty led education abroad program at St. Stephen’s University through observations, student assignments, surveys, and qualitative interviews to determine what forms of learning take place, what kind of student relationships develop, what impact previous experiences of community have, and what effect being a faith community has on academic engagement. An analysis of data sets provides evidence of transformational learning among students, fostered by safe spaces intentionally facilitated by leaders. Opportunities for individual and group reflection enabled students to connect as a group, process experiences, and further the experiential learning process. Going forward, education abroad needs to equip facilitators to create safe spaces and foster critical reflection, and investigate liminality, communitas and spirituality’s potential contributions.