3 Replies from Mentors
DaphneGraduate AdvisorStudent Government at North Carolina State UniversityDefinitely! Through my experience, I see the world as a learning tool. Many of my employment opportunities have sprung up in an effort to know more about my experiences abroad and I have accepted the challenge to promote international travel.
Marilyn JacksonAssistant Director, Office of International ProgramsSan Francisco State UniversityGaining a new perspective on the U.S. - Discovering their "Americaness"
Studying abroad in a host country is often the first time that all students begin to think critically about what it means to be American. As they go through "culture shock" they realize that they have cultural and societal expectations that are shaped by growing up in the U.S. They are not Nigerian or French or British. Their experiences make them uniquely American. For African American students this sometimes comes as a surprise. For a variety of reasons, including racism and historical and current discrimination, but also social and family networks and allegiances, African American students may see themselves first as "Black" or African American, but not just "American" no hypen. Often African American students are surprised when people in the host country refer to them first by their nationality ("the American") rather than their skin color. They may also be surprised when they find themselves instinctively defending the U.S. or acting in an unexpectedly patriotic manner when someone criticizes the U.S., even though they might be even more critical U.S. policies, government and society when they are home. In the host country the American identity takes precedent over race identities. This can lead to some very emotional soul searching, for example, how can I be so passionate about a place that has routinely discriminated against me? James Baldwin (1955) in Notes of a Native Son wrote about the African Americans in France and their battle for identity and the importance of facing the reality of being American , being African American and the uniqueness of that experience. Many African Americans that I have interviewed, first find their new found "Americaness" disconcerting, but ultimately empowering. They return home to the U.S. with a new sense of pride of ownership of American and commitment to shape and change American so that it lives up to its promise of freedom and justice for all.
NancySenior Year StudentLoyola Marymount UniversityMy perception has changed a lot, for the better. Being in Europe, I realized how they embrace time with the family, how they aren’t living in a rushed minute-by-minute basis or coming up with profit maximization. Over there they work to live rather than live to work. We’re caught up in consumerism, materialistic things, social status, how much we are worth, in monetary terms. Benz, beemers, etc. Over there they are driving their vespas and aren’t so focused on making money-the focus is on living their lives and enjoying every minute of it. That changed my outlook as far as my business minor and how they are always talking about beating out competitors, maximizing profit, exploiting people for their own benefit. I decided to take business law to get a feel for it, to know what the rules are, and for enrichment. I feel I now have some things to keep in mind when entering the work force and when managing people; I need to keep myelf grounded and realize we all have our own lives and families, and its important to attend to them first. When people talk about ‘typical’ CEO’s, it’s the same criteria-white, older men. Not sure Latin@s can embody what these men do- family means too much to us. They have to do whatever it takes to stay on top- I'm not sure Latin@s can do that.