The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Fifteen — Studying Abroad: A Cultural Challenge, by Ana Maria Camelo Vega
Around one in 35 people in the world today are migrants. This has led to an increase in cultural diversity and cultural exchanges all around the world. On August of this year, I became part of this global phenomenon. I flew all the way from Colombia, South America, to Houston, TX. There, I had to take another flight to Chicago, IL; where I had to take another flight right to Duluth, MN. Arriving here was a whole personal challenge. The United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country in many different ways. In this way, its culture is completely different to my home country’s culture in different aspects. The one that is going to be explained in this post is the conception of oneself and his relationship with others. When speaking about The United States of America, it is well known that individualism is promoted all along the country. In the American country, the image of the self and its relationship with the others can be described with “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” An example of this is the family structure and the work environment focused on power, hedonism, achievement and competition. Along with this individualist culture, The United States of America is also known as a Universalist culture, in which each person is treated as an individual rather than as a group. These aspects are practically opposite to the ones back at home. In Colombia, family is the core of everyone and everything. Growing up with these teachings allows you to build a sense of mutual and group belonging. Arriving at Duluth, and beginning to live the American college life, was really challenging in that aspect. You get to compare how people think way different than you, and how their lifestyles vary in the same way. Relationships are valued in a different way, and in this way, interpersonal communication is as well. Therefore, studying and living abroad is contributing to the increase of cultural exchanges and diversity, by influencing both –home and international- cultures; which is a challenge I am only starting to live.
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10
The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.