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The Center for Global Education promotes international education to foster cross-cultural awareness, cooperation and understanding. Living and working effectively in a global society requires learning with an international perspective.

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SAFETI Clearinghouse
Orientation Courses


by Prof. Susan Sample
phone: 946-2492
Office: George Wilson
OH: Wed. 9.30-11 and Thursday 3-5

Cross Cultural Training I deals with Theory and practice of living and studying in cultures other than your own. It is intended for students who are about to study abroad, and for those who are studying abroad here in the United States. It is designed to help you understand the general character of the cross-cultural experience, to explore learning and coping strategies to maximize that experience, and to gain a better understanding of your own culture so that you can understand others as well. These are culture-general skills, not culture-specific ones. In other words, the same skills will serve you well for every trip you make abroad over the course of your lives, not just to one country one time. Culture specific information, or what the norms of the specific place you are going to are—what to tip and how to pack—you will learn this semester doing your individual research projects.

      This course should help you develop and refine skills in cross-cultural observation, to learn to recognize and understand verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, to learn about culturally appropriate ways to ask and answer questions, and to analyze cultural behaviors and differences. There is a lot of evidence that tells us that people who take this course seriously (whether they are experienced travelers or have never left Stockton) do better in their studies abroad, make friends more easily, and generally have a better time than people who don’t. They also don’t offend as many people in their host cultures (a good thing, as a rule).

Required Texts:

Survival Kit for Overseas Living, Robert Kohls (practical and informative information on the overseas experience!)

Distant Mirrors, DeVita and Armstrong (I bet you never thought about your culture from this perspective before; practical and fun)

All other readings will by on reserve at the library. Under the name of Cort Smith.

Course Requirements:

Participation 35%
Short written work and your critique of other students’ drafts 30%
Research paper 35%

I reserve the right to make changes to these designations based on your pedagogical needs (ie. I don’t promise not to give you pop quizzes if I think you’re blowing off the reading!).

In the past, some students have turned in papers written in a former semester which were kept on file in a residence. When caught, the class as a whole voted to not allow them to go abroad. This policy will continue. Keep in mind, this is stuff you want to learn, and you'll be using it almost immediately. It's not esoteric or remote from your life! It is your life!

Honor Code: Go look up the specific language in Tiger Lore. If you submit someone else's work under your own name, you will fail the course, and International Programs and Services will be notified as a matter of course. You will not go abroad. I may also report your actions to Student Life for disciplinary action. Please see a writing style manual for the textbook definition of what constitutes plagiarism (most paraphrasing is still plagiarism, and you don't want to do it.) Overseas study is NOT a right at UOP, and we can cancel your application if you do something to deserve it.

Attendance: Attendance at each and every class is mandatory. This class is based heavily on participation. Each absence will reduce you FINAL GRADE for the course by ONE FULL GRADE (A becomes a B; B becomes a C, etc.). Tardies count as absences, so do not be late to class. I will take attendance; if you aren’t seated and ready to go by the time I am done, you are absent. You must pass this course with a C or better in order to study abroad. It must be taken for a letter grade, not P/NC.

Research Paper:

Start right now (well, after class). You are to write a 20 page introduction to the country to which you are traveling (or, if the US is your foreign experience, about the US!). The paper should be written with a view toward helping students who do not have any sort of orientation program better adjust to life and study there, at precisely the location and program where you will be. Keep in mind that New York City is not Stockton, California, and Paris isn’t Pau! You are going to a particular place, not a generalized country. If you are going to more than one country, then concentrate on the first one you will be living in.

The paper must be carefully researched and cited using MLA or Chicago style. It should be double-spaced, 12 point font, and regular margins. Make sure you spell check and fix grammatical errors—I’m likely to hand it back to you if you don’t. Your prose doesn’t have to be pretty and flowery (it’s usually a mistake for college students to try that) but it should be grammatically sound (MS Word grammar checks!).

Your bibliography should have not fewer than 15 authoritative sources (including several different reliable internet sources; several popular magazines or newspapers, and several good books). Encyclopedias are a good place to start your research, but don’t count as one of your books. You must also include one oral interview and one internet interview with either a native of the country to which you will travel, or a reliable, experienced non-native informant who has significant life experience in your “host” country. Obviously, procrastination is a bad thing, and should be mostly avoidable since you have to turn in pieces of the paper each week.

Criteria for grading the paper:

The paper will be judged on substantive content, including thoughtfulness as to what students of your age and background really need to know and why. Resist the temptation to just give me the easily available data on major rivers, average temperature in July, etc. The information you are looking for is the culturally important data. This is a course about culture, different values, different roles, different behaviors and expectations, different daily life, and your paper should reflect that. This means you have to do some investigative research. Use the Study Abroad library in Bechtel. Use the reports of returning students in SIS. Use “Culturegrams.” Use the UOP Library home page: go to “On the Web” and “Subject”, then to “International Studies” and the world will open to you. Too, it would be most wise if you started reading a newspaper from the country you will visit (you can cite them, too!). Many are on the web these days. It will be really useful if you know that thee might be a “general strike” or “major election” going on before you arrive in the midst of it, clueless and ignorant. If you want a crash course on what’s going on in the world, you might want to start reading “The Economist”—it’s in the library, and is the UK’s much better answer to Time Magazine.

You paper must show cultural specificity and reflection on the reality of the cross-cultural experience, as well as good grammar, spelling, etc. You will be turning in the first drafts almost weekly. Each of you will read someone else’s draft each week, edit it carefully, and grade it and sign it. When you turn in your final paper, all such graded drafts will be attached. I will be paying attention to how much improvement you made in your drafts, as well as in the quality of your work as editor of other’s work. Highlight in yellow marker all the things you have changed in the final draft from the earlier one read by one of your peers.

Course Schedule:

25 February (Week1): Intro to the course, and meeting with reps of Study Abroad, the Registrar, and Financial Aid—pay attention, you have to know this stuff!

Reading due: None
Written work due: None

04 March (W2): Hopes and Fears and Star Trek

Reading due: Kohls chapters 1-4. You must do an LTD on each reading in the course, each chapter separately.

Written work due: LTDs for readings; plus the next three assignments (the reading is light, so there’s more writing).

First: Chapter one of your final paper, first draft, 4 pp. On the national, regional, and local history of the area where you are going to be living and why knowing this particular part of history will help a student your age better live and adjust in that society. Think about this. Don’t just go to a reference book and “find stuff” on history. You will need to read enough about “your” country to know what might be important to understand from its history. For such an overview, an encyclopedia is helpful, then go on to more sophisticated sources. (For example, would a foreign student coming to the US really need to know about the War of 1812? The Tyler Presidency? What about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement? What would s/he need to know if s/he wanted to understand life in the modern US and in Stockton and why?). Make sure you have a back-up copy of your work; don’t have it only on one disk, and don’t put your only copy in the hands of your peer reviewer.

Second: a first draft of the bibliography for the entire research paper (read through the rest of the syllabus for info on the rest of the specific subjects you need to research).

Third: write a short, 2 page (typed!) paper on how the Kohls reading particularly applies to you and your prospective trip.

March 11 Spring Break: Of course, I know you’ll all be working very hard, but please take a few minutes to have fun over the course of the week.

March 18 (W3): What is culture? What is the culture of the US?

Reading due: Kohls: ch 5-9. DeVita, chs 1,2,4, and 5. On reserve, reading by Althen, chapter 1.

Written work due: LTDs, plus two assignments.

First: draft of chpt 2 of your final paper. 4 pages on the political system, economy, and current events of your host country and locale. What are the hot political topics and arguments right now and what do you need to know about the political system to understand them? What’s going on in the economy?

Second: In addition, choose one of the articles in DeVita (and be sure to tell me which one) and write 2 pages on its applicability to your own life and situation.

March 25 (W4): How do you learn another culture?

Reading due: Kohls chptrs 10-15. DeVita chptrs 6, 11, 13. On reserve: Miner.

Written work due: Chapter 3 of your term paper, draft. 4 pp on the Culture, High and Popular (Bach and Brittany) of your country. You don’t want to look like an idiot who didn’t bother to learn anything about you host Culture prior to arrival. What about the local/national culture—music, art, sports, etc.—do you need to know to make a good impression. (This isn’t about small “c” culture—values, customs, and behaviors; that comes later.)

Martian assignment given out.

April 1 (W5): Cross-cultural communication

Reading Due: Kohls, chpts 17, 20. DeVita: chptrs 8, 12. On reserve: Althen, chptr 2.

Written work due: “A Martian in Stockton” paper due, 4 pp.

April 8 (W6): The dreaded “culture-shock”—or is it just “culture fatigue”?

One reserve, articles by Althen chptrs 3,4, by Adler, and by Bennett. In Kohls, chapters 16, 18.

Written work due: Chapter 4 draft. 4 pp. On general values and norms and beliefs of your host culture. Think of what we have been saying about what Americans value, believe in, like and dislike. How about the culture you are going to?

April 15 (W7): Cross-cultural simulation; theory into practice.

Reading Due: none

Written Work due: Chapter 5 draft, 4 pp. On what you can expect of the educational system where you are going. Rules, norms of behavior, class format, typical assignments and so forth are all to be covered. Many of our returning students tell us that, more than anything else, it was the differences in the educational systems that most threw them (oh yeah!). You should prepare ahead of time. For this you will find the SIS papers from returned students particularly helpful as a resource, as well as interviews with students who have studied where you are going. They need to be cited just like any other source.

April 22 (W8): Tips on safety and the like and thinking about the return

Reading due: Kohls chapter 23, Postscript 1 and 2.

Written work due: Final draft of your research paper is due in my office by May 1st. I have a mailbox in the office in George Wilson.

LTD format for your reading assignments

For every reading you do (yes, ALL of them), you will be required to prepare notes to help guide you in your discussion (otherwise, it’s really easy to read something but not absorb it; writing it down makes you do both). They are to take the following specific form. Each chapter will require separate LTD notes (they are about different things). This is provided as a template. I prefer these to be typed and printed.

Title of Article or Chapter
Date Due

  1. Write down any terms or concepts which, after having consulted a dictionary, continue to puzzle you.

  2. Write a couple of sentences on the thesis of the reading in your own—not the author’s—words. What is the author trying to convince you or inform you of?

  3. Write an outline of the argument as it is presented.

  4. How does (or might) this reading relate to you personally?