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SAFETI Clearinghouse
Orientation Courses

(aka ‘Analysis of Overseas Experience’ and ‘ReEntry’)
Fall 2005

George Wilson Hall

Prof. Dr. Bruce La Brack
phone: #62102
Office: WPC 105 and GWH MAIR Office
OH: By Appointment

This is a seminar for those recently returned from living outside the United States. It was originated and designed, at the suggestion of Pacific students, to assist people with the process of "coming home." It is not group therapy, though some, including the instructors, have found it therapeutic. It is not just a place to swap "war stories", though that happens, too. More fundamentally, it provides all of you who have lived internationally--only to return to your native one--the opportunity to continue reflections upon: (1) the foreign experience; (2) on the often odd, sometimes painful, and almost always unexpected process of cultural re-adaptation; (3) the integration of your intense foreign experiences into your current intellectual and emotional lives; and (4) considering where do you go from here in terms of career plans and job searches. It provides you with the opportunity to continue the cross-cultural learning process and to further refine your skills in cultural observation, adaptation, communication, and application.

This is a two-unit course, but do not be deceived. You will need to plan for fully as much work (and perhaps more) in this course during the 7 weeks of its duration as you would for any 4-unit course during a similar period. The wise will take note.

You are expected to attend all of each and every meeting or (1) you will not be given credit for the course or (2) your final grade will be reduced by two full grade points! This is not a lecture course and there is no possible way to make up for non-participation. Participation is absolutely central to what we are doing; this is a course about you and your experiences. Therefore, being absent or late without discussing the very, very good reason with the instructor IN ADVANCE will result in the lowering of your final grade by two letter grades. Besides, the class will be much more useful to you during initial reentry than anything else you could possibly be doing!

All the readings and writing assignments for each class are to be completed before the class meeting. Late papers probably won’t be accepted, unless due to a verifiable medical or other emergency, and if accepted, definitely will be penalized. Your participation grade will be determined by the quality of your contribution to class discussions. Note: quality and quantity are not the same thing, but certainly one random comment per week, no matter how insightful, is not appropriate to this kind of seminar class. Overall grades will be determined by this participation (30%), your short papers and critical incidents (40%), and your term paper (30%). I don’t grade on a curve. Late work will be penalized and non-participation noted whereas good work and thoughtful interaction will be appropriately rewarded. Written requirements include five short reaction papers, a couple of "critical incidents" to prepare, some internet exercises and responses from the “What’s Up With Culture?” website and one monster 20pp+ term paper.

Texts: In the bookstore you will find one required book: Never In Anger by Jean Briggs.

All other readings are in both hardcopy (on Reserve in the Martin Library) and also available on-line through Pacific Ereserve.

Honor Code:You are expected to abide by the terms of the Pacific Honor Code as found in Tiger Lore. Don’t cheat, don’t plagiarize, don’t harass people, and don’t enable others to do these things. Violations will result in failure in the course and referral to university authorities.

Communication: I prefer to use e-mail for fast feedback and to announce any schedule or assignment changes. I check it several times a day. I will set up a List-serve for the class, so please give me your Group-Wise, or .com account number a.s.a.p.

Grade Policy - Final grade based upon: 30% on final 20+pp paper
40% on graded short papers, critical incidents and internet exercises
30% on regular, informed class participation & appropriate small group work


Please note that all assignments refer to what you should be doing in preparation for the next class period. All written work is due at the start of class, i.e. at 6:00 pm!

Week One
24 August

Reading Assignments for next week: articles by Weaver and Bennett (on reserve) It would also be wise to start reading Never in Anger, which will be due in two weeks (September 7th).

Writing Assignments due next week: 3-4 dsp (double spaced pages) on ‘The Theory and Practice of Re-Entry’. Please write a paper in which you review Bennett’s and Weaver’s arguments and then use your own experiences to illustrate at least two of their concepts/ideas.

Internet Exercises due next week: Read through and do ALL the exercises in Modules 2.0-2.3.4 on the What’s Up With Culture website. Some of the exercises are written for people who are still Overseas: answer those questions as if you were still overseas; think back to what you would have said at that point. Make sure you print out your responses to all the exercises and bring them to class. These will be collected from time to time.

Week Two

Will discuss articles by Weaver, Bennett and your papers and internet exercises.
Reading Assignments for next week: If possible, read all of Never In Anger, (Introduction, chapters 1 and 6 at a minimum). Pay attention to themes I handed out on first night of class.

Writing Assignments due next week: 5 dsp on 4 similarities and 4 differences between your experience overseas and hers. Not obvious stuff like she’s female, older, anthropologist, with Eskimo, etc… Use this paper as an opportunity for thinking about emotional vs. intellectual learning, emotional vs. rational responses to the foreign, and your own emotional state of being while overseas. In your analyses, feel free to cite other readings we’ve done as well.

Week Three
7 September



Will discuss Never in Anger.

Reading Assignments for next week:Chapters 1 & 2 of American Culture article by Gary Althen

Writing Assignments due next week: Prepare a 2-4 dsp paper in which you compare the value systems, both in content and source, of the US and of your study abroad site, as revealed in the website exercises.

Internet Exercises due next week: Read and do all the exercises in Module 1.4 (all six sections) of the What’s Up With Culture website. Where appropriate, go back and do them over again as if you were a native of the country/culture from which you have just returned.

Week Four
14 September

Will discuss article by Gary Althen, internet exercises

Reading Assignments for next week:None

Writing Assignments due next week: Prepare two ‘critical incidents’ using the form handed out on first night of class. Remember: you can check out previous SIS students’ Critical Incidents in the binder Mary Lou has. These are to be turned in to Mary Lou, SIS office, no later than noon on Monday, September 21st for duplication and distribution in class on September 28th.

Week Five
21 September

Ethnic Food Fest in which you prepare (or provide) a dish that is "typical" of your host country or region or from your favorite international recipe. Please prepare a placard to describe your food item, its importance, context, meaning, etc. Please bring photo albums, slides, and souvenirs --anything which you wish to share with the group about your overseas sojourn. Details on kitchen arrangements and related items will be provided on September 14th.

REMINDER Reading Assignment for next week, “Hurrying Man” article by Boakari, and LaBrack on "Dual Ethnocentrism”

Week Six
28 September

Will discuss article by Francis Boakari and the La Brack article on "Dual Ethnocentrism".

Reading Assignments for next week:read article by La Brack on "Covert Competencies".

Writing Assignments due October 5th: 2 dsp on ‘What It Means To Be An International Person.’ After discussing this concept generally, use evidence from your own experiences to talk about the degree to which you have achieved this goal.

Internet Exercises due October 5th: Following the exercise in module 2.4.1 please follow the prompts listed in the “And…” section and write your additional responses in 2-4 double spaced pages. You do not have to print out the list of skills and competencies, unless you feel it will be of some use to you later on (like in constructing a resume)!

22 January:

What is Re-entry? We will discuss the Weaver article, and your papers. For two weeks from now read Never in Anger, and the articles by Baglish and by J. Bennett (both on reserve.) Writing assignment for the meeting on the 5th: a four page paper comparing your own experience abroad to Briggs', including at the very least, four important specific similarities between incidents in the book and your own experiences and at least four important ways in which your own experiences were significantly different from hers and why. You will need to discuss the justification for your selections, so they shouldn't be trivial.

29 January:

Welcome Home dinner. This is a break in the class. Your assignment is to make (or, OK, buy) a dish from the country where you lived to be shared with the rest of the class. Coordination is good. One year everyone brought desert. It was very sick-making, and not thinning either. You are also to bring photos, momentoes, and anything else you would like to share with the group, and be prepared to talk to us about what was important to you. Hey, you wanted a captive audience for all those slides; now you have one. Tell us about “home.”

5 February:

Where were you, what did you expect, and how did you react? Be prepared to discuss all of Never in Anger and articles by Baglish and J. Bennett on reserve. Reading assignment for next week: article by Gary Althen on reserve and chpts 16-30 in Bryson. Writing Assignment for next week: Write a three page paper explaining to someone from the culture which you visited the most significant differences she or he can expect to find when coming to the US. It is important to tailor this essay to your "foreign" audience--a letter to a Japanese might well be entirely different than one to a Brazilian.

12 February:

What was gained and what was lost abroad? What does it mean to become “international?” Discuss article by Althen and Bryson. Reading Assignment for next week, article by Boakari, both articles by LaBrack on Dual Ethnocentrism, and chpt. 5 from Storti. Writing Assignment for next week: Prepare two "critical incidents" drawn from your own or your friend's experiences. (Instruction sheet will be distributed.) These are to be turned in to Mary Lou no later than noon on Monday before class. This is necessary for us to use them in class. Also, write a two-page essay on “What you need to know to succeed in the educational system of XX (your host country).” This should compare and contrast the education there and here at UOP, with suggestions to UOP students on what to expect there and how best to adjust and adapt upon arrival.

19 February:

Moving on and Building Skills. We will discuss the assigned readings, do your critical incidents, and otherwise amuse ourselves. Reading Assignment for next meeting LaBrack on "Covert Competencies." Writing assignment: write your term paper. It is due on 17 March in my office.

26 February:

Concluding thoughts. We will discuss LaBrack and where you are in your re-entry as well as how this experience can fit into your career preparation.


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

  2. Write a couple of sentences on Thesis of the reading—what is the author trying to convince you of?

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

  4. How does this reading relate your experience?