Understanding the Other through International Professional Experiences

John Buchanan



Universities encourage students to undertake international professional experiences (IPEs) so they can add international and intercultural dimensions to their development. This paper adopts a theoretical backdrop of neo-colonialism to investigate the experiences of four Australian pre-service teachers who jointly undertook an IPE in Bandung, Indonesia. Analysis of their journal entries illustrates both how they struggled to make sense of their new cultural and organizational surroundings, and some new insights they gleaned. They were unprepared or under-prepared for the complexities of culture that they encountered. The paper also discusses the potential for IPE delegates to normalize typically ‘Western/Northern’ ways of learning and teaching, and puts forth some recommendations for future IPEs. It aims to prompt discussion on the current and potential value, and possible pitfalls, of such programs.



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