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Valuing Diversity: International Students

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Peter Howland

on 23 October 2014

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Transcript of Valuing Diversity: International Students

What is Culturality
in Aotearoa New Zealand?

International Students:
Motivations, Experiences, Responses and Transformations

Case Study
Intercultural Models
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (survey of IBM employees in 1960s & 70s):

Individualism vs. Collectivism (ICV)
Power Distance Indicator (PDI)
Uncertainty Avoidance Indicator (UAI)
Masculine vs. Femininity (MAS)
Indulgence vs. Restraint (IVR)
Pragmatism - Long-term vs. Short-term orientation (LTO)

noun [mass noun]

1. the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively: 20th century popular culture.
■ a refined understanding or appreciation of culture: men of culture.

2. the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society: Afro-Caribbean culture | [count noun] : people from many different cultures.
■ [with modifier] the attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group: the emerging drug culture.

(Source: www.oxfordreference.com)

‘Self-in-the-other and the Other-in-the-self’

Valuing Diversity: International Students
NZ vs. China
What is Aotearoa
New Zealand Culture?
List three things you think are unique to New Zealand 'culture' and apply to all New Zealanders...

Camila was 17 years old when she travelled from Benos Aires, Argentina to Dargaville, New Zealand, to undertake one year international student exchange.
- had learnt second languages at school (English and Italian) and also English from American television
- from a ‘middle-class family’
- mother and father divorced; mother had recently remarried
- has a younger brother (13) living with mother and step-father
- raised as, and a practicing, Catholic (church most Sundays with mother and observed all major religious events re: Easter etc)
- mother previously a fashion designer who had raised the children by herself for 8 years. Now stay at home mum. Relationship with biological father good, but infrequent - as ‘he works hard and travels a lot’. Does not like step-father, although he traveled to New Zealand when young man and encouraged her to do likewise
- placed with Tongan family in Dargaville - father worked in saw mill and mother part-time in supermarket. Two children - girl aged 16 and brother aged 15... also male cousin aged 18 living with family

‘The sojourning student is more than one person living more than one life’ ... 'international students
shape a mix of identity from a larger portfolio of socially defined choices'
'Rather than cultures being experienced as
holistic, “pristine and authentic,” they are
contaminated by each other'
(Gallagher 2011; also Abdallah-Pretceille 2001; Schmidt 1998)
Assist participants in their attempts to constructively engage with international students by providing:

i. Conceptual frameworks to meaningfully comprehend the var and variables influential in international student experiences;

ii. Some of the practical tools required to understand and successfully manage international student experiences.

NZQA - Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students (revised 2013):

13.2.2 Assistance to students facing difficulties adapting to a new cultural environment and;
13.4. Support services for international students must be tailored to meet the needs of international students;
13.7.5 Cross-cultural training for staff in regular contact with international students.

Workshop Aims
Language inadequacy - both academic and social
High demand constituency in terms of time & resources

Students unused to independent study/ self directed learning

Disorientated by subject matter/ course work & teaching materials
Broad institutional motivation of financial returns for recruiting overseas students
International student often seen as in deficit in relation to host country requirements. The implicit objective is the achievement of harmony/equilibrium with a host country
Idea of “cultural fit” repeatedly fails... Students measured as 'culturally distant' do not necessarily perform worse or exhibit lower levels of well-being - nor is cultural identity necessarily related to academic success (Li & Gasser, 2005)

.....Important to note that relations are mediated by many other factors such personality, class, context of interaction, etc (Dervin 2009; 2011)

... moreover international students do not leave their home country identities behind and in fact “heritage” identities continue to change in the host country
International students form themselves under social conditions they do not control, conditions that shape their “space of possibles” - differs from student to student. Some have more resources than others; some more vulnerable than others; some bear personal attributes that blend easily into the country of education
Potential to contribute positively to campus diversity
Host teachers, and both local and international students, gain constructive 'intercultural' understandings and practices
Can use ‘ distinct’ insights of international students to enrich understandings of own teaching/learning practices and encourage critical self reflection
Advances awareness of the limitations and problems associated with stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, ethnocentrism
Preparing 'global-ready graduates' or 'global citizens'... both local and international students.
International students gain multi-language skills
Active agency/ self-formation/ critical self reflection ... all higher education can be understood as a process of critical self-formation, international education demands an especially strong agency because it often entails significant socio-cultural transformations and disequilibriums
Active agency + heightened awareness of self & others + develop independence (social, educational, economic, etc)
International students shape a mix of identity from a larger portfolio of socially defined choices - both host and home
Cultural immersion alone may not increase/ guarantee 'intercultural competence' - assumes individual attainment, however, obscures need for institutional
pre/post + during training
The agency of international students is not wholly suppressed - rather the objective is to remake student agency by 'other-forming' it, to “empty out” prior habits and values seen as obstacles and (ironically) to install in the student from outside an imagined “Western” autonomous learner
Hofstede's NZ vs. China

New Zealand scores very low on this dimension (12).
Within organizations, hierarchy is established for convenience, superiors are always accessible and managers rely on individual employees and teams for their expertise. Both managers and employees expect to be consulted and information is shared frequently. At the same time, communication is informal, direct and participative.

74 China sits in the higher rankings of PDI – i.e. a society that believes that inequalities amongst people are acceptable
. The subordinate-superior relationship tends to be polarized and there is no defense against power abuse by superiors. Individuals are influenced by formal authority and sanctions and are in general optimistic about people’s capacity for leadership and initiative. People should not have aspirations beyond their rank.

Power Distance

With a low score of 28 in this dimension,
New Zealand is shown to be a normative country. People in such societies have a strong concern with establishing the absolute Truth; they are normative in their thinking. They exhibit great respect for traditions, a relatively small propensity to save for the future, and a focus on achieving quick results.

China scores 100 in this dimension, which means that it is a very pragmatic culture.
In societies with a pragmatic orientation, people believe that truth depends very much on situation, context and time. They show an ability to adapt traditions easily to changed conditions, a strong propensity to save and invest, thriftiness, and perseverance in achieving results.

Strengths of Intercultural Models
 Acculturation in the cultural perspectives, language,academic and social practices of 'others' (host & guest)

 Openness to cultural diversity & cross-cultural differences

 ‘Host’ & ‘Guest’ dynamics – need for sensitivity... learn about own culture... decentering

 Also learn about ethnocentrism, ethnoexoticism, stereotyping, prejudicial ‘Othering’ ...

 Awareness of cultural differences & similarities....
surface and deep culture

 Promotes cultural relativism

 Attention toward ongoing change

Anthropological Notions of Culture
‘The term culture [refers to] what is
, ... the things one needs to know in order to meet the
standards of others
... its ultimate locus must in be
rather than in groups... cultural theory must explain in
what sense we can speak of culture as being shared
or as the property of groups at all' (Ward Goodenough 1971).

Social & cultural 'life' are human constructs

Learnt shared & individual


Conscious discourse/ practice +
Unconscious dispositions
(re: actions that 'feel right' = majority of 'cuture')

‘Culture is

a real thing
but an

notion. It does not cause behaviour, but summarizes an abstraction from it, and is this

normative nor predictive
’ (Baumann 1996)

Anthropologically-speaking ‘culture’ is the 'political' processes by which all humans create and deploy...

MEANING that guides...

Weaknesses of
'intercultural' models
Essentializing & reifying
(Abdallah-Pretceille 2001; Dervin 2009; Sh-Xu 2001).
frames ‘cultures’ as singular, homogeneous, fixed, bounded, harmonious, normalizing, etc

‘Leads to the idea that two national cultures [can] communicate with each other, [and] not actual people’
(Dervin 2006)... ‘National cultures’ deployed as default mechanism to explain differences and misunderstandings between people... use
‘culture’ as an ‘alibi’
(Abdallah-Pretceille 1998)

Frames ‘culture’ as a ‘social agent’
(Eriksen 2001) that people interact, learn and live in... and thereby obscures how people, as individuals and in groups, constantly and
politically generate

Reduces ‘Other’ to ‘robots programmed with ‘cultural’ rules’ (Abu-Laghod 1991; also Dervin 2013; Hannerz 1996; Wikin 2002) ... Stereotypical, ethnocentric, generalizing...

Weaknesses of Intercultural
International students effectively encouraged to take off ‘home culture’ and put on ‘host culture’ – more sophisticated models promote multiculturalism (differentila layering)... very different to hybridity and dialogics of being. Obscures the context, politics and dialogics of the co-creation of the Self-Other dynamic re: ICL, host-guest, teacher-student relationships... ‘Cultural difference’ is [presented as] typically solid, acontextual, and unaware of power relations... present them as realities rather than constructs’ (Dervin 2013)... Unethical... a form of ‘Cultural racism... process of racialization through the application of notions of immutable cultural differences’ (Bredström 2008; as Dervin 2011; Dervin & Layne 2013; Shi-Xu 2001)

Reduces ‘Other’ to ‘robots programmed with ‘cultural’ rules’ (Abu-Laghod 1991; also Dervin 2013; Hannerz 1996; Wikin 2002) ...
Stereotypical, ethnocentric, generalizing...

Marked tendency to ignore that people everywhere
have different personalities, experiences, knowledges,
motivations and aspirations ...

and that people everywhere belong to (& resist)
different social groups, classes, gender, age,
religions, etc... obscures diversity

‘National cultures’ deployed as default mechanism for mediating
international encounters ... used to explain differences and misunderstandings between people... use ‘culture’ as an ‘alibi’
(Abdallah-Pretceille 1998)

Systematically emphasizes cultural variation ‘giving rise to
a form of cultural "scientism" and dogmatism’
(Abdallah-Prectieille 2001)...

contra to increasing experience of globalism/ glolocalism
(experience and referential)...


- co-creation/ intersubjective creation & deployment of evolving 'cultural' resources and social positionings by individuals in variable
times, spaces, contexts...

'Interculturality is understood as the positioning and negotiation of individuals who come from different spaces-times rather than ‘cultures’
(Dervin 2011)

- AMBICULTURALITY (Howland forthcoming)
The Vine-berg model of Culturality

Vine-berg model
of Interculturality
Have a cup of tea
Gain independence (from parents/ society - oppressive or supportive) - includes educational/ social growth (Gill 2007; Gu et al 2010)

Experience other societies/ people/ 'cultures' outside own (Gill 2007; Gu et al 2010)

Cheaper education/ ‘best’ education' (e.g. April - failed to get into university in Japan on three occasions, finally got into female university (2nd teir) - older than other freshmen and did not want
‘carry the university name’

Acquire English language and associated 'world views'

Acquire social contacts... many international students spoke of their aspirations prior to arrival in New Zealand of getting to know 'Kiwis' (Ho et al 2007; also Campbell 2008; Gareis 2000, 2012 )

‘I love it here, I’m comfortable. You see the thing is, I fit in over here. I don’t fit in, in India, I’m a feminist, OK, I’m a strong-minded woman and in the India sub-continent it is very difficult. [Here] I have the freedom to lead my own life and I am not expected to come home and . . . I don’t have all the social pressures to deal with. I have my life.'
(Female, 19)

Motivations in New Zealand
Ho, E. et al (2007)
The Experiences of Chinese International Students in New Zealand


N = 83; Nineteen participants (22.9%) enrolled in language schools and PTEs; 12 (14.5%) were in secondary schools; 15 (18.1%) at polytechnics and 37 (44.6%) in universities.

Also Merwood (2007) - http://www.dol.govt.nz/PDFs/international-students2007.pdf; Ward & Masgoret (2004) - http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/15288/040604-final-report-for-printers.pdf

In general, participants expected that an overseas education would give them
greater opportunities and better life chances

were the main influence in the decision to study abroad.

Many students had originally
wanted to study in Australia, Canada or the UK
but their visa applications had been rejected. New Zealand then considered as shares some of the attractions of these more popular destinations, especially English-speaking country with a western education system.

Prior to 2003, participants were attracted to study in New Zealand because of
cheaper costs
, and the
relative ease in acquiring a visa
. Among participants who arrived after 2003, a low exchange rate was rarely mentioned as an important factor in choosing New Zealand.

The main reasons given were the
quality of education,
amicable environment
immigration opportunities
, and having
relatives and friends in New Zealand.

majority of students knew very little about New Zealand before arrival
. The information they did have was obtained from the agents they used or through the internet.

In general the students
looked forward to greater freedom in New Zealand.
Other aspects a
nticipated were a better educational environment
making new friends
learning about different cultures

Strangeness of first encounters
- disorientation, stress, anxiety & social dislocation through to sense of
loss of ‘self’ and habituated comforts
of home (including food, friends, family) - sometimes leading to a boring and lonely existence; feelings of alienation to the host society, dislike of food, etc (Gill 2007, Gu & Maley 2008)

Significantly due to
lack of adequate pre-depature preparation
little practical understanding of host teaching/learning norms
(Gill 2007; Root & Ngampornchai 2012)...

”It is like finding yourself suddenly, wake up in a completely different place, it felt so strange: different expectations, different course organizations, different mode of study, you name it, everything is different. This is the third week, and I am still disoriented. I am also stressed out, and feel that I am making very little progress’
(Lin - university student from China)

First experience of being in
‘language minority'
(Root & Ngampornchai 2012)...
re: pronunciation, slang, or colloquial expressions - specific geographical 'dialectics' - importance of context +
re: specialist terminology; ability to listen/ comprehend in classroom settings...

Challenges often due to often due to
lack of confidence and/or proficiency
gaps in specialist knowledge... '
Sheer force of an unmediated holistic contact, particularly with linguistic otherness, must not be underestimated’
(Murphy-LeJeurne 2003)

Novel education & learning contexts
‘When I first started studying here, I was not used to either the study or the life here. I did not know where to start. In class, I did not understand the purposes of the teaching and sometimes I did not quite understand the teacher...It was not simply the teaching. It was actually the whole system including how things work and how teachers and students communicate with each other that I felt I was not used to
' (Student from China)

Education systems = universalizing structure
... in China tends to be textbook-foucsed and teacher-led; students expected to almost 'rote learn' foundational knowledge in cohorts; dialectic debates/dialogic discussions outside of classroom context - New Zealand based on a dailogic (teacher-student) educational environment and students encouraged to engage independent study/personal interests in learning.

International students often comment that New Zealanders friendly 'at first' & invite you 'catch up fr a coffee in the future but they do not follow through and then after some time you feel uncomfortable approaching them' (S, Canada)...interaction with domestic students was very limited. Many students believed domestic students were not interested in getting to know international students, although there was an appreciation by some that making friends required input, tolerance and understanding from all sides

Assume majority of international students motivated to adapt to novel circumstances to avoid disequilibrium (Kim 1998)

Orientation and institutional support/ information
on arrival especially important - can ameliorate sense of loss/ disorientation and even a source of emotional/social support that does likewise for loneliness (Gill 2007)...
do not assume comprehension, seek feedback and follow-up/ monitor

Other international students an important source of support
‘We all know that are temporary and experiencing same things in terms of loneliness and lack of understanding and wanting to have a positive time, so only natural that we support each other’
(A, Japan in NZ)...often first turn to ‘home network’ for information on host culture

Adroit use of
‘survival’ language'
such as ordering food/ negotiating public transport + hand gestures/ body language (Root & Ngampornchai 2012)... one student described how food was a way to learn vocabulary words; he would go to the grocery stores in Italy where each food item had a picture and the name of the item on display (D, Italy)

‘A specific skill I developed from the lack of communication is my ability to use my body language to make myself understood. I always smiled and acted confidently, and used my hands to point to where I wanted to go and used my body and hands to try and describe what I wanted
’. (S, China)

'The biggest thing I got while abroad was a better confidence in my ability to speak the language, as I was very insecure about it before'
(P, Spain)....

‘Never be scared to immerse yourself in a society of non-English speakers. You will surely get laughed at once in a while but that is all part of the learning experience, and maybe when you think back about what you were actually telling someone, you might laugh yourself as well'
(I, Panama)

Students advise continuously carrying
a language phrase book or dictionary
not being afraid to ask many questions
being willing to listen a lot;
being willing to try to speak to anyone.

Responses in New Zealand

Study plans
for most of the participants required
after arrival

the time it would take to acquire the appropriate
level of English

Most reported being
satisfied with the learning environment
, in particular the quality of teaching and the approachability of teaching staff, together with the focus on independent learning and students being
encouraged to ask questions

Students also experienced
difficulty in attaining adequate English language skills for educational settings
; in participating in classroom discussions; working on group projects or assignments that required them to make oral presentations

Before coming to New Zealand the participants had
anticipated greater personal freedom
, especially as they would
no longer be under direct parental supervision and control. - however some
experienced loneliness and hardship
and they also found they could
not always count on their parents for help
. Maintaining a relationship with parents
and family was a challenge for many students with a challenge.

Some students reported establishing a
closer relationship with parents
since arriving in New Zealand, while others detailed a
widening gap and lack of contact.
Many believed their parents did not understand the problems they encountered and were reluctant to discuss

Tend to
rely on co-nationals or relatives
for support and display
reluctance seeking help from formal sources
of support

Quality of homestay accommodation i
mpacted on the students’ satisfaction levels (personality and social dynamics)

Many who expressed dissatisfaction, both at the time of arrival and when interviewed, admitted that
New Zealand
had not been their first choice study destination

Students who said life was better attributed this to
change in their attitude, to doing well in their studies,
making friends, enjoying the relaxed lifestyle, and appreciating the opportunity to study overseas.

Adopting a positive and open attitude towards new encounter and experience, intrinsic motivation for change and growth, a willingness to engage in different cultural and academic practices and an ongoing practice of comparison and reflection’ (Gill 2007)

Students suggest that difference with 'Western' teaching/ education practices often not as great or insurmountable as outlined - mostly due ‘cultural situation of teaching and learning’ (Gill 2007), moreover students often appreciate opportunities to experience new learning situations (Gill 2007: Gu et al 2010; Ho et al 2007) re: dialogic/ co-creation of knowledge via teacher-student & student-student interactions; ability to use abstract frameworks, meta-cognition, independence and self-monitoring, creativity and a critical approach.

Develop empathetic/ critical awareness of others + integration of diverse perspectives via incremental integration in host society meaning-making and of socio-cultural/ academic practice (Gill 2007; Zhang & Brunton 2007)... growth of individual capabilities and the growth of sociability are interdependent (Marginson 2013)

'In China, it is common to pay for public education, and public schools are very competitive with each other, to the extent that the schools will stay open for students to work six to seven days a week, eight to nine hours a day. By comparison, education in the New Zealand is relatively uncompetitive. Public school is free, and no matter what school you go to, you only go for 5 days a week, six to eight hours a day' (S, China)

‘An ability I felt as if I acquired was the ability to be open-minded of others’ opinions. I have always been fairly hard-headed when it comes to listening to what others think about a certain topic but living with five other guys with entirely different personalities truly helped me understand that I should be more open to how others think ’ (I, Panama)
Very disappointed to discover host family not Maori and ‘no one’ at school spoke Maori in everyday conversation, although happy to enrol to Te reo classes
Having a great time - especially in partying, traveling around, etc with friends
Has been ashamed to learn that she is ‘classist’ and does not enjoy living in ‘relative poverty’. At home lives in large house and family has two maids. Nevertheless ‘truly appreciates the generosity and friendliness’ of host family despite their ‘lack of resources’.
At home has own bedroom with ensuite, so use to having privacy and sleeping by self, however, thought this was really nice gesture and enjoyed the experience. Later on slept in top bunk, but this was when more distance from sister as they realized that they did not have much in common.
Although wished was hosted with ‘wealthier family’ as this would give her more options to ‘travel and experience different things’, has been truly humbled by host family’s generosity and has given her a new perspectives on the ‘lives of the poor’
Knew it was important to eat "well" to demonstrate appreciation for efforts made by host mother, found this difficult as ‘only a small person’ compared to host family - was a little concerned that putting on weight, but noticed that many international students were and that New Zealanders bigger in any regard, so didn’t worry her - also knew could lose weight when returned home
For first week or so everyone found this ‘very funny’, but soon became highly embarrassing for Camila - “I wasn’t even use to sharing a bathroom, let alone ask someone to turn on the shower for me every time, although to be fair it was a bit difficult as the father had not finished the renovations’
At first was ‘not fussed’ by this as respected the ‘family rules’ (‘My own mother would also expect me home by certain times’), but later on realized that host family could not discipline her the same way, so often stayed out late with friends/ boyfriends -‘Though I was always told my host parents where I was’ - this, however, caused tension between her and host sister ‘who was already pushing the boundaries with her parents’ and had a different group of friends.
This was not a problem at first as very happy to be included in welcoming church community, however, once had made friends spending ‘all Sunday at church’ was too onerous and Camila stopped attending: ‘At first I told my host family I wanted to attend Catholic mass, but after a while I just hung out with my friends on a Sunday’
Really not aware of what has happening as got progressively ill and was transferred to new host family on leaving hospital. Knew host sister was given money to get her prescription medicine, but that she spent this on takeaways for herself and her friends. Host parents very busy working and might not have realized how ill Camila was. Felt sorry for first host family, who were friendly and generous, but perhaps did not have the ‘resources’ to host an international student. Happy to be with new host family as will give her ‘more opportunities’
'I worked hard at first, but the work were very easy and some were ‘electives’ such as cooking that I was advised to take as no point in getting credits in mandatory courses such as math. Then I realized that it did not matter at all and I became a bit of a ‘naughty girl’, skipping classes and even wagging school some days. Then I led a senior student revolution and we painted our common room in psychedelic colours for which I got told off by the principal who said I was not taking my studies seriously... well duh ’
’I tried to explain to my form teacher that the level of study higher in Argentina, but when I told her that in Argentina the teacher leads discussions and we take notes until we all understand the concepts and theories involved, she said this was ‘rote learning’ and was out-dated. She said New Zealand education was based on a ‘critical, reflective method’. What she didn’t understand was that once Argentinian students had mastered basic principles of any topic, they were expected to develop their own critiques and be prepared to back this with sound argument. I feel we are better prepared for university study in Argentina - at least in the sort of ‘elite’ schools I attended at home’
At first Camila was disappointed by this as had been looking forward to making ‘great Kiwi friends’, but she has had a number of ‘Kiwi boyfriends’ ... ‘It is good to try out these things when I am young’ ... which she feels has more than ‘made up for’ the lack of friendships with New Zealand students in general: ‘Besides I meet and talk with other girlfriends in my boyfriend’s group’
This was an unexpected pleasure for Camila, especially to meet others who ‘are so free’ and ‘keen to experience travel and new cultures’. Camila believes that international students ‘naturally stick together’. ‘We are all know that we are visitors and here for only a short time before we will return back to our homes. We also understand that New Zealand students are very busy with study and their lives before we arrived and that making room for us is sometimes difficult'

DIALOGIC ENGAGEMENT (instructional & critical)

- never assume student is a stereotypical 'international student' (re: no 'Chinese students' - rather there are 'students from China')

- establish constructive/ proactive/ co-creative structures to repeatedly

explain, discuss, observe, reflect & repeat

a. Clearly outline school’s expectations of international students (noting variations re: qualifications etc)... explain, explain, explain x 3... use translators if necessary and ensure on-going monitoring

b. Clearly outline educational, social, counselling, etc resources provided and/or required

c. Clearly outline & discuss teaching techniques & methods (monitor/ follow up)

d. Discuss students’ personal motivations, aspirations, goals (monitor/ follow up)

e. Access to first language (and if possible home society) support - recognizing, however, this will be embedded in socio-political dynamics of student’s home society

f. Organize international student reps or independent third-party consutlants

g. Deploy IC modelling strengths re: culture relativism, culture/social shock, social isolation, student growth etc in all interactions

Explain, discuss, observe, discuss, reflect, repeat...
Explain, discuss, observe, discuss, reflect, repeat...
Explain, discuss, observe, discuss, reflect, repeat...
(instructional and critical)

'Culture ' =


- conscious, articulated, partial, selective,...

- often
limited practice
- question of social saliency

- national, ethnic, cultural, educational, consumerist...
influence of

universalizng structures, discourses & public rituals



- context-specific
(e.g. occupational, recreational, domestic, etc),
performative, multiplicity & hybriditity ...

‘I can definitely say that I came back as a new human being. Experiencing something such as this was something I couldn’t dream of because I didn’t really think it existed. The realization of it all was a learning experience in itself’
(D, Italy)
(Marginson 2014)
(Marginson 2013 - also Dervin et al 2009)
Working with assumption that international students desire a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE
(at least as 'good' as home, likely 'better')
and likewise desire to enact PROGRESSIVE AGENCY in terms of personal growth
(re: language, educational, social, etc)...
Culturality: A New Perspective

- rejects notions of fixed, bounded cultures and intercultural exchange

- instead directs focus toward meaningfully engaging the variable contexts, processes, ongoing changes and consequences of individuals socially creating and deploying 'culture' re: beliefs, meaning, values etc that guide action and interaction...

- variables to consider in all international student encounters include: age, maturity, language capacities, motivations to travel, length of stay, residency (home & host), class and family background, gender, personality, etc

Marked tendency to
ignore that people everywhere have different personalities, experiences, knowledges, motivations & aspirations

And that people everywhere
belong to (& resist) different social groups, classes, gender, age, religions, residence, etc...
thus obscures diversity & contra to widespread experiences of globalism/ glolocalism...


Obscures the context, politics, co-creation/ dialogics and evolution of self-other dynamics
re: host-guest, teacher-student relationships...

‘Cultural difference’ is [presented as] typically solid, acontextual, and unaware of power relations... present them as realities rather than constructs’
(Dervin 2013)...

Potentially a form of ‘
cultural racism... process of racialization through the application of notions of immutable cultural differences’
(Bredström 2008; also Dervin 2011; Dervin & Layne 2013; Shi-Xu 2001)
Intercultural Weaknesses cont...

Wealth (2012):

Richest 1% of adults own 16% of total wealth

Richest 10% own more than 50% of total wealth

Top 1% of adults (29,000 people) own 3 x as much as
poorest 50% (1.45 million)

Poorest 50% own just 5% of all wealth

Six billionaires and top 10 have a combined wealth of $16.9b

Wealthiest New Zealander - Graeme Hart - had a personal fortune of $6.4b (equates to an income of $12.3 per week)

Half the population (2.2 milllion) including beneficiaries and pensioners, earned less than $24,000 annually or $462 a week


Wealth (2012):

Top 5% earned 23% of China's household income

Households in bottom 5% accounted for just .1% of total household income

Average annual income @ $2,509

Average family income in urban areas (51.88%) @ $3,107

In rural areas (41.88%) was @ $1,912

Average in Shanghai (22 million people) was just over $5,616

In Gansu Province in northwest was just under $2,390

Wealthiest individual - Wang Jialin (Real Estate) - $17b or $32,692, 307 weekly

Total of 230 billionaires and top ten have a combined wealth of


More ethnic cohorts (237) than countries (193) in world

Languages = 180 recorded

Dominant language = NZ English (3.8 million); Maori (148,000); Samoan (86,000).

Fourth largest category or 1.6% of
population (68,000)are illiterate
and have no language


Han Chinese account for 91.59% of population,
while a further 55 ethnicities make up the remaining 8.41%

Languages = 229 recorded

Han language, spans eight primary dialects, which are morphologically and phonetically diverse, and may be mutually unintelligible to each other

Standard Chinese - known as Putonghua - form of Mandarin dialect, is
the official national spoken language for the mainland. Several other
regions have additional official languages

Approximately 16 million have no language....
(Howland forthcoming)
Heightened awareness
, able to
understand and embrace differences
, and to varying degrees
integrate diverse perspectives
(both educational & socio-cultural) into own value systems

‘My Japanese flatmate and I had been exposed to a great deal of old prejudices, grievances and stereotypical misunderstandings between Japan and China. Living so close to him changed my view about Japanese culture and Japanese people. I would certainly never make the same remarks about Japan again’
(M, China)

Not simply individual cognitive/ language acquisition phenomenon -
significant need for interculturality training
to improve awareness of cognitive (knowledge/ awareness), affective (attitude and motivation/ sensitivity) and behavioral (skills/ contextual appropriateness) challenges ad transformations (Root & Ngampornchai 2012)

active agency
(Gill 2007; Shu-Xi 2001)... Process of becoming independent & autonomous, speaking a different language, exposed to novel inter-subjective spaces, cooking, managing own fianancés, making ‘life-course’ decisions... One student emphasized how her first taxi ride ever happened in Panama (A, Costa Rica and Panama).

‘Sometimes we don’t understand what the teacher is talking about, so how to respond? We feel language is the biggest barrier. It is not because we don’t know the subjects or topics for discussion...'

'It is a matter of habit, psychologically. You have been quiet in class for over ten years. You are so used to the teacher naming a student to answer questions. So when you don’t feel totally confident about the answer, you would not like to open your mouth. It is difficult to change such a long-term habit in a short period of time...'

'Sometimes I feel ‘yes, I know the answer, but why do I have to answer it in class?’ It looks as if I want to show off...'

'Teaching not very systematic’...

‘Unclear criteria for assessment...irrelevant and boring’...'

Tteachers not too strict with students'...

‘Teachers’ difficult accent’...'

'Class discussions can be a waste of time... too relaxed, not very challenging’...'

'Too much freedom, not enough pressure 􏰁 feeling like being on holiday’...'
Experiences cont...
(see Abdallah-Pretceille 2001; Dervin & Dirba 2006; Dervin 2009, 2011; Dervin & Layne 2013; Shi-Xu 2001)

Contextual factors including power dynamics of teacher-student interactions important in enabling
students to overcome initial challenges (Dervin 2011; Dervi & Layne 2013; Gill 2007; Shi-Xu 2001)

Students noted importance of feedback on their academic work, empathy with their experience, timely guidance for taking part in academic activities and clear instructions for completing tasks were seen as invaluable for students’ adaptation.

Some applied a so-called ‘technical model’ in academic writing & use host’s academic framework for own use - copying - other students/ use of quotes etc (Gill 2007)...'I wrote a few assignments written in such a manner before I became more confident and competent and could structure my academic writing more independently and creatively' (A, Japan)

Students’ smiles and laughs sometimes used to cover their embarrassment where language barrier and/or lack of knowledge of the target culture may be key reasons for ' failure' in communication that appeared to have caused great anxiety in the teacher.

Could also be a classic case of immature students with no idea about what study involves irrespective of their ‘culture’.

No short cuts to conceptualizing and understanding new learning/ teaching contexts...

'One has to go through the process for oneself’
(M, China)


Responses cont...
Responses cont...

Also develop critical self knowledge and awareness of personal values/ worldview
(Gill 2007; Marginson 2014; Shi-Xu 2001)

Language acquisition/competency... 'The biggest thing I got while abroad was a better confidence in my ability to speak the language, as I was very insecure about it before' (P, Spain)

Learning new skills such as how to cook, wash dishes, ride public transportation, exchange money, and adjust to living in different living conditions ... ‘Surprisingly, after all the cross cultural experiences and travel the one thing that I learned how to do well was cook. Using a small electric stove, some pots and pans and fresh vegetables, fruit, spices, and meat I was able to keep myself fed everyday’ (K, Panama)...

.’ I realized my weaknesses when I had to independently deal with everything in life, things like communicating with people and solving problems. When I was in China, I had my parents, relatives and good friends with me. Very close friends. It was not a problem at all to ask them to do me loads of favours. When I came here, I strongly felt that this country was a strange place to me, so naturally I had made some Chinese friends. I was a little worried that staying with my Chinese friends all the time might not help me to improve my English quickly. But then I found it rather difficult to communicate with English people. (J, China)

How to deal with situations where not necessarily in control... 'I learned that things don’t always have to go my way and things don’t happen on my time” (S, China)

Learning to be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations, learning to view things from multiple perspectives, learning a new appreciation of the poor, learning to overcome stereotypes of homelessness, and learning to adopt an open mind.

However,many students’ reflective accounts did not connect surface-level cultural norms with deeper values and cultural assumptions ... points to importance to length of stay & degree of integration

International students saw certain elements of self-identity as slow to change, elements linked to familial relations, or cultural or national identity, or language of first use, or memories defined as “home” or “the true I.” (Marginson 2013)

Transformations cont...
Very pleased with how independent has become - making ‘life decisions’, solving problems, managing finances, etc - however, misses family support and now better inclined toward step-father re: right about how travel ‘broadens the mind and gladdens the heart’
A little disappointed that gender relations in New Zealand often like those of home - less patriarchal with many women in professions/ positions of ‘power’, but still ‘macho’ especially among young males/ rugby players/ ‘adoring girlie fans’ - thinks, however, may have something to do with age and maturity of peers
h. Deploy IC modelling weaknesses - especially deployment of solid cultural identities as a starting point to establish meaningful lines of dialogue (use of student’s language re: basic greetings etc/ food/ other rituals?) - also potentially 'cultural performances' by students (need to discuss with individual students)...

... start conversation via firstly neutral use of ‘solid identifications’ (self & other) and then more meaningful of student’s experiences in NZ (importance of establishing trust - though need to remain critically observant/ aware) and/or

... discuss similarities (entanglements) re: sport, internet, educational interests, etc as a way to approach differences (otherness)

i. Develop/ maintain an awareness that challenges experienced by international students potentially more nuanced/ deep structured and can appear at any time - more so the greater the time of exchange or the more individuals are socially and culturally integrated

j. Encourage use of buddy systems (both host and international) + occasions for social interaction (host & international)

j. Realize that despite best efforts international student exchanges not always ‘work’ (failure, partial success, oscillations between success & failure) - however in resolving problems and/or enhance enrichment always be aware of the potential variables at play re: context, personalities, age, gender, class, performance of ideals + power relationships involved re: teacher-student, host-guest, etc)... need for constant and critical review
‘The sojourning student is more than one person living more than one life’ ... 'international students shape a mix of identity from a larger portfolio of socially defined choices'
(Marginson 2013)
Lots of culturality/ interculturality/ ambiculturality variables at play in any context - re: personality, motivations, aspirations, age, gender, class, language, power dynamics, performance of ideals, contestment of ideals, etc

‘Self-in-the-other and the Other-in-the-self’
(Gallagher 2011)
(Brebner 2008: Campbell 2008; Gill 2007; Gu & Maely 2008; Gu et al 2010; Ho et al 2007; Holmes 2006; Hoskins & Sallah 2011; Marginson 2014)
(Gu & Maely 2008; Gu et al 2010; Ho et al 2007; Holmes 2006)
(Gill 2007; Gu & Maely 2008; Gu et al 2010; Ho et al 2007; Holmes 2006; Redmond & Buyni 1993; Zhang & Brunton 2007)
(Gill 2007; Gu et al 2010; Ho et al 2007; Holmes 2006; Zhang & Brunton 2007)
(Dervin 2011; Gill 2007; Shi-Xu 2001)
(Dervin 2011; Gill 2007; Gu et al 2010; Ho et al 2007)
(Abdallah-Pretceille 2001; Dervin 2009, 2011; Dervin & Layne 2013; Schimdt 1998)
(Marginson 2013; Shi-Xu 2011)
(Root & Ngampornchai 2012)
(Gill 2007; Marginson 2014)
(Gu & Maley 2008; Gu et al 2010; Marginson 2013)
(Gill 2007)
(Gu & Malley 2008; Gu et al 2010; Robinson-Plant et al 2010)
(Hunter, White, & Godbey, 2006; Paige & Goode, 2009; Root & Ngampornchai 2012)
(Marginson 2014)
(Marginson 2014)
(Abdallah-Pretceille 2001; Dervin 2009, 2011; Marginson 2014;
Robinson-Plant et al 2010; Shi-Xu 2001)
Similarities (entanglements) Differences (otherness)
(Baumann 2000)
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