Perceptions of U.S. Americans Abroad

Task Objectives & Cultural Engagement Targets: 

  1. To promote reflection on the nature and impact of cultural stereotypes (Diversity openness)
  2. To promote meaningful interaction with the local community (Cultural engagement; Tolerance of ambiguity; Knowledge of the host site)
  3. To promote higher levels of cultural self-awareness (Diversity openness)

Task Description: 

By interacting with the local community, students explore the origin, impact and ways of dispelling current stereotypes about Americans at the host site.

Recommended Procedures: 

  1. Pre-departure. Teacher provides a list of personal characteristics (some positive, some negative), and have students check the ones that they believe are associated with Americans at the host site.  In small groups students discuss the origin of those preconceived ideas, and their potential impact on the way locals will perceive and interact with them upon arrival.
  2. Research. With the list of characteristics generated at the pre-departure meeting, students set out to confirm (or revise) the list of characteristics attributed to Americans at the host site.  This can be done through formal or informal interviews with members of the host family (if available), local students at the host institution, or even random individuals surveyed around town.
  3. Reflection. Based on the field research (and class discussions, if time permits) students will write a brief reflection (2-3 pages) on the origin and impact of cultural stereotypes about Americans at the host site, and how some of those attitudes may have changed as a result of this project.
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