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Reflections on Intercultural Learning & Teaching

Coronavirus, Intercultural Learning & Self-Care

coronavirus mindfulness Mar 10, 2020


COVID-19:  It’s seriously upsetting the international education field, and higher education in general (not to mention other sectors). I know many of you are working overtime and grappling with very difficult decisions that impact a lot of people in serious ways. Do we cancel our study abroad programs? Relocate students? Restrict faculty and staff travel? Or even close our doors and move all courses online?

That’s why, in this blog post, I want to talk about something that may seem only tangentially related to intercultural learning for many of you, but is a fundamental aspect of it, in my opinion:  self-care.

Intercultural experiences are all about engaging with the unknown and pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone. Doing difficult things. In order to learn, grow, and make the most of such experiences, it’s fundamental to take care of ourselves so we have the energy to engage in these ways.

Whether we’re crossing cultures, or engaging ambiguity...

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Mindfulness for Intercultural Learning, Part II

mindfulness Sep 26, 2017

This is the second in a two-part series on the relationship between mindfulness and intercultural learning. Last month, I discussed what mindfulness is and why it’s an important component of intercultural learning (click here to read Part I if you missed it). In this post, I address the need to move from mindfulness as concept to mindfulness as practice, and provide specific ideas about how educators can incorporate mindfulness into their intercultural work.

Mindfulness in the Intercultural Field

Mindfulness has been recognized as an important concept in intercultural communication for some time. In her 1999 book, intercultural communication expert Stella Ting-Toomey explains that stereotyping is inevitable, and we must learn to distinguish between mindless stereotyping and mindful stereotyping. Ting-Toomey (1999) states:

“While mindful stereotyping evokes an open-minded attitude in dealing with others, mindless stereotyping reflects a closed-ended mindset. Mindless...

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Mindfulness for Intercultural Learning, Part I

mindfulness Aug 30, 2017


One topic that’s come up a lot lately in my trainings that I find people are very eager to learn more about is mindfulness. In this blog post—part one of a two-part series on mindfulness—I discuss what mindfulness is and why it’s an important component of intercultural learning. In next month’s post, I’ll provide some specific ideas about how educators can incorporate mindfulness into their intercultural work.


Definition of Mindfulness

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is largely responsible for bringing mindfulness to the secular world, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

We spend most of our lives operating on automatic pilot, with unconscious scripts guiding our actions. This is necessary and useful because it frees up mental capacity to focus our attention on more complex tasks.

However, there is a limit to the efficiency and helpfulness of operating on...

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