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El impacto del intercambio intercultural en las ideologías de los adolescentes

Por: Andrés José Vásquez Fúnez

Egresado de Relaciones Internacionales


Una inmersión cultural de magnitudes tan altas puede prácticamente garantizar un cambio en las ideologías generales de aquellos que participan en intercambios en el extranjero, cambios que en este estudio me propuse identificar y entender.


Este estudio es prueba de que un intercambio cultural representa un punto muy importante en la vida de los estudiantes, permitiéndoles percibir puntos de vista que, de no haber partido en estos viajes, probablemente nunca hubiesen podido experimentar.

The Impactof Intercultural Exchangeon the Ideologies of Teenagers

Andrés José Vásquez Fúnez


Abstract

This research focuses on the impact that an intercultural exchange from 6 to 10 months may have on the general ideologies of people who embark on such experiences. The study prompts the question: Does the experience of an intercultural exchange have any influence on the ideologies of Honduran participants of the American Field Service (AFS) intercultural study- abroad program?Through the application of a questionnaire on a total of 43 former participants, I wanted to understand more abound their time in their host countries, and what general effects did this experience have onthe sojourner’s values,ways of thinking, and social development.

After analyzing the survey, it was concluded that an intercultural exchange tends to broaden the participant’s horizons about the world, turning them into a generally more empathetic and open- minded, culturedperson; traits that effectively allow participants who are characterized by them, to consider themselves global citizens, according to critical cosmopolitan theory.


Introduction The experience of an intercultural exchange, depending mostly on whoever takes part in it, can be an unforgettable and life changing experience to one´s personal self. This is primarily due to how immersed one can get in the foreign culture of their respective host country, forcing whoeveris sojourning abroadto learn how to adapt to this new culture. For this study, I focused on how this immersion can have a significant impact on thegeneral ideologies of sojourners, specifically teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18, which is the most common age in which people tend to partake in suchexperiences. These participants are identified as “sojourners” since the term refers to “individuals who move between different destinations for a temporary period on the understanding that at theend of their ‘sojourn’, they will either move to another location or return to their original society.” (Fitzpatrick 2017, 280), in this case staying, for the most part, for period of 10 months to a complete year in their host countries before returning to their own home countries.

A cultural immersion of this magnitude can almost certainly imply a significant change in the general ways of thinking and acting of sojourners, changes that, for this study, I set my self the goal of identifying. Many other types of research were consulted for this study, mainly those who focused on different effects of culture shock and how it can be defined, such as Fitzpatrick’s “Taking the ‘culture’ out of ‘culture shock’” (2017), as well as general aspects that are important to keep in mind when studying abroad, such as Martin et AL’s “Understanding the Role of Openness to Experience in Study Abroad Students” (2015). This project’s relevance lies in identifying if there is a significant correlation between intercultural exchanges and the mindsets and ideologies of those who adventure themselves into them, as well as identifying if any changes that are experienced in this aspect can lead to sojourners acquiring certain cosmopolitan traits.

As its main objective, this project itself to identify if intercultural exchanges have an important impactin teenagers’ and young adults’ ideologies caused by beingexposed to foreigncultures during a relatively long period of time. As for more specific objectives, it was intended to accomplish the following: determining in what aspects of their sojourn did ex-participants experience cultureshock, observing how the ex-participants social skills had changed during their exchange, and seeing if the sojourners’ political ideologies had been impacted to any degree. The question that was prompted prior to this study was “Does the experience of an intercultural exchange have any influence on the ideologies of Honduran participants of the American Field Service (AFS) intercultural study-abroad program?”, later stating the hypothesis that indeed, a significant change would be noticeable, generally developing traits proper of a “global citizen” which, according to cosmopolitan theory, generally consists of a culturally competent, empathetic, hospitable, and open-minded person. Cosmopolitanism was utilized as the main component for the theoretical framework of this study, alongside the review of many other studies focusing on: study abroad programs, experiences of other sojourners, the understanding of ideologies and identity, and the many aspects that can influence one’s venture into an unknown foreign culture.


The methodology that was chosen for this research was the application of a questionnaire on former Honduran participant of AFS’s intercultural exchange program who sojourned abroad mostly between the years 2015 and 2019. Said questionnaire focused on learning about their multicultural experience and how they personally felt affected by it; this being achieved through a series of primarily open questions that allowed respondents to express themselves freely after each prompt. The end result consisted of very personalized answers that enriched the research further. After analyzing each response to every question carefully, it was concluded that an intercultural exchange does, in fact, have an important effect on the general ways of thinking and world perception of sojourners, often effectively having a tendency to becoming more open- minded, empathetic and culturally aware thanks to the prolonged exposure to a plethora of new environments and experienced provided by their immersion in their host country’s culture.


Before taking part in an Intercultural Exchange

When analyzing the several intricate factors the come along with the idea of an intercultural exchange, it is expected that researchers will sometimes investigate what motivations and concerns did the students have at the time of considering embarking on a trip as impactful as an intercultural exchange. Regarding some possiblereasons that studentshad within themselves in order to partake in this journey, they can be grouped in two main categories, these being:personal self-growth reasons and academic or professional reasons.


Starting with personal self-growth, Meihua Liu and Wei Cai (2013, 76) found that amongst the various motivations that students listed for studying abroad, some of the most relevant ones included: wanting to broaden their views about culture, improving their second language and cultivating their cultural awareness. Now, on the academic and professional side of motivations, Chen and Chen (2021, 22-23) found that many students also found intercultural exchanges useful because it would allow them to enhance their knowledge in their major, add diversity to their academic program and enhance their critical thinking skills. In this area we can also mention Coleman’s input, where they state that “those who go abroad for educational purposesare provided with the chance of earning credits,getting a university degree,building their international social network…” (2015, as cited in Tanabe 2019, 421), which could be considered more reasons for students’ to partake in an exchange program.


As much as these incentives can push a student to want to study abroad, studies have found that they’re also a lot of personal and social deterrents that a student may find at the time of considering one these programs. Payan et als (2012) in their study that targeted both motivators and deterrents of studying abroad mostly stated that a lot of the deterrents that made young college students not want to study abroad also included both personal and academic reasonings. Amongst the personal deterrents, they noticedthat the most impactful ones included, worries about putting personal relationships and commitments in danger, followed by general fears about living on another country and experiencing a foreign culture; as for academic reasons, they foundthat some studentswere concerned aboutdelaying their graduation time at college.


Although studying abroad is mostly very much seen as a very good opportunity to better a student’s development, there are some critics that’s can be made to studying abroad in some specific cases. For example, according to Gore (2005, 23 as cited in Goldoni 2013, 360), studying abroad includes some concerns for the U.S higher education community because they don’t view studying abroad as “a serious opportunity for committed academic learning because courses and programs offered abroad may be academically less rigorous than those offered at the home university” and also they see it as basically just a longer vacation trip in the cases where a student already speaks the language of the country they are going to. There also existing critics shared by various authors regarding the duration of exchange programs, more specifically those in which the studentstays for a relatively short time abroad with the general consensusfor “short term” being along the lines of three months or less, this is due to the fact that students who stay for this short amount of time generally show less optimal results or vary too much from student to student. Day (1987 as cited by Chen and Chen 2021, 23) states that short exchange programs often lead to a more superficial contact with the host culture alongside suboptimal language practices, which are possible explanations for a big part of the unsatisfactory results that stem from short programs.


General effects of Studying Abroad


Evaluating the variousdifferent effects that someone can experience while studying abroad is a task that is more easily said than done. The reasonfor this is that, although researchers have found general tendencies between exchange students after going abroad, the students’intercultural experience can be greatlyinfluenced by their own identityand personality traits. For example, Ang, Van Dyne and Koh (2005, as cited by Martin, Katz-Buonincontro and Livert, 2017, 619) argue that openness to experience is a very important personality trait when being immersedin diverse cultural settings, with openness to experience being defined as “imaginative, creative, cultured, original, broad-minded, intelligent, and artistically sensitive” (Costa and McCrae, 1997 as cited by Martin et als, 2017, 619). This is also supported by Moghaddamand Peyvandi’s (2009,432) study aboutthe effect of personality traits on the effectiveness of exchange summer programs, in which they found that “students who were moreimaginative, intellectually curious, and willing to explore found the in-class lectures at the abroad university/college and the web-based portion of the abroad courses to be more effective” which are signature traits shared by what has been defined as openness of mind.


As stated before,it is also known that the amount of time a student spends abroad can also make the effectiveness of a sojourn abroad vary, this is due to the fact that if a student spends less time abroad, the amount of cultural immersion they experience is significantly lower. Cultural immersion is defined by Pope-Davis et al as “direct, prolonged, in vivo contact with a culture different from that of the trainees” (1997, 23as cited in Dietzand Baker 2019, 105). With that in mind, it is also important to mention that, although the effects of cultural immersion are reduced if the student does not spend as much time experiencing the new culture, this does not mean that the effects are nonexistent. For example, in a study that was made by sendingcounseling students to study abroad in Honduras for a period of 13 days, a very short amount of time for a sojournabroad, it was reported that “exposure, observation, and relationships seem to have had a profound impact on the participants in this study. Theirreflections portrayed movement from basic observations to deeper reflections” (Dietz and Baker 2019, 119). In spite of the short amount of time the counselors spent abroad, there were still very noticeable effects of their experiencing of an unknown culture. Another great example of this was presented by Lipinski in his study about a virtual study abroad program, where they had American students partake in virtual classrooms with Hungarian students, the study foundthat, even if the studentswere not interacting physically with their virtual classmates, “their students gained significant exposure to the other culture and expressed a desire to learn more about their counterparts’ academic experience, employment prospects, and lifestyle” (Lipinski 2013, 205)


Another essential part of experiencing another culture is without a doubt the culture shock that’s comes along with it, both when studyingabroad and when coming back to your own culture after being exposed for long periods of time to another culture. The term culture shock” was first coined by Oberg (1960, as cited by Fitzpatrick 2017, 280) when referring to the depression, anxiety and apprehension that american sojourners experienced when living inanother cultural habitat. This is of course applicable to what students experience when studying abroad and encountering a foreign culture. The “shock” part of the term can be understood as a product of “the increased levels of psychological stress and the process of sociocultural learning that results from the increased level of demands and lifestyle changes in a new and unfamiliar environment (Fitzpatrick 2017, 291). Culture shock can be experienced by sojourners in my different ways when abroad, from completely different cultural practices to small changes in daily life such as how Lynn Chang (2011, 403) was shocked by how different the class dynamic was in USA compared to classes in her country, changing from generally quiet to highly interactive. According to Taft (1977, as cited in Mumford 1998, 149) culture shock can be separated into six distinctaspects or stages, these being: strain coming from the effort needed to adapt, a sense of loss, being rejected by the new culture, confusion in feelings and self-identity, surprise, anxiety or disgust when being exposed to cultural differences and finally a certain feelingof impotence due to not being able to adapt enough.


Sojourners have also been shown to experience what is called “reentry shock” or “reverse culture shock”, which can be understood as the process of trying to re-adapt to your own culture right after being exposed to a foreign culture for a prolonged period of time (Wielkiewics and Turkowski2010, 650).


Ideology Concepts


Since this study focuses primarily on the impact that intercultural exchange has on the ideologies of sojourners, it is important to define the general concept of political ideologies. To begin with,the term “ideology” is saidto have its origins “during the late eighteenth century as a protest against religious superstition and monarchical authority” (Andrein and Apter1995, 23). The idea of an ideology has also been interpreted in many ways, for example “a ‘science of ideas’based on the objective knowledgegained from physical senses,not from abstract metaphysics or principles of religious faith and sacredpolitical authority” as interpreted by de Tracy(cited in Andrein and Apter 1995,23).


When it comes to political ideologies, both left and right ideologies come to mind, which both had their origins in the early nineteenth century France. The Left can be understood as the ideology that looked for a social change, securing equality in economic, political and social rights; while the Right can be interpreted as the ideology that committed to the already implemented social norm, also known as conservatism (Radkiewicz 2017, 93). These bi-dimensional view of ideologies also seems to impact how a person tends to react to being exposed to other culturesor when their own culture experiences changes. It is generallythought that someone who identifies with left-wing ideologies will often exhibit openness to change in culture and morals, whereas someone who identifies with right-wing ideologies tends to show a more conservative behavior towards changes in culture and moral (Radkiewicz 2017, 93).


Theoretical Framework


This study is based under the theory of Critical Cosmopolitanism. This theory is of great relevance for this study due to the fact that it “provides a theoretical framework for the development of global competencies, which lead to a critical consciousness of the world” (Byker 2019,184). One of themain focuses of cosmopolitanism is becoming of a“global citizen” whichconsists in someone who has matured both socially and emotionally in their own global competencies, it also involves having virtues such as empathy, hospitality and overall openness toward the world (Byker 2019, 185). Amongst the literature found about Cosmopolitanism as a theory, we can find generally three different approaches to the theory, according to Maak (2009, as cited in Nicolopoulou, et al. 2016, 259), these include: an approach focused on multiculturalism and diversity (which is where we can find the global citizen point of view), a second approach focusing mostly on ethics and morals, and a third approach focusing on legality and accountability of actions.


Cosmopolitanism can also often be seen as somewhat of an antithesis to a philosophy known as particularism. According to Kamminga (2017, 4)“cosmopolitanism opposes (relatively) ‘closed’ forms of particularity, or particularism: since, unlike individual persons, national, non-national or multinational states, or all otherforms of sectional human grouping, do not possess fundamental value, the scope of moral obligation is basically global.” This can also be furtherexemplified by Beck (2002, as cited by Nicolopoulou, et al. 2016, 269) when he suggests that “cosmopolitanism encourages hybridity, plurality and dialogue with others.” Cosmopolitanism finds links to other philosophies such as moral universalism, which is the acknowledgement of a moral obligation to all other humans, due to its efforts of accepting cultural differences in the world (Horta and Roth 2015, 268). This closeness to universalism can also be exposed by Weber (2005, 198), where he highlights the importance of a self-reflective viewpoint for critical philosophy, also indicating the presence of resources of universalism and comparing this to the cosmopolitan scope. As another example, it can also be mentioned how it is related to Kantian philosophies, which in turn has relations to the universal principle of right, which focuses on being “respectful of the freedom of all other in accordance to a universal law” (Corradetti 2020, 527). Besides its relations to universalism, it can also be noted how cosmopolitanism has a relation to liberalism in the form of cosmopolitan liberalism, which “weds the cosmopolitan idea that ‘every human being has a global stature as an ultimate unit of moral concern’ with a liberal focus on the individual as a free and equal person” (Lu 2005, 401- 402).


When referring to important researchers in cosmopolitan topics, it also important to mention UlrichBeck’s works. Beck painted cosmopolitanism as somewhat of a revolutionary movement due to its intents to unify the world and change its social was of particularism. “The cosmopolitanization process means globalization from within the national societies, with important transformations in daily identities, since global problems have turned to be part of our day-to-day, and of the global governance structures.” states Guivant (2016, 230) in her study about Beck’s contributions to cosmopolitanism. The “revolutionary” approachis also looked intoby Mitchell (2007, 717) where she specifies that “Cosmopolitanism can only be revolutionary if conceptualized as a lived process of ongoing political and ethicalaction and education– one based in a feministimagination of an intimate, non-violent and caring socialworld.”, while also stating its relevance with ideologies such as feminism.


Finally, it can also be highlighted how a fully cosmopolitan world is seen in some ways as a utopic society by some. This due mostly to how cosmopolitanism tends to clash with some ideologies, such as particularism which was talked about beforehand, making it naturally difficult for some people to transition from one mindsetto another. Afterresearching about thesecritiques, Erez (2015, 48) found that “the anti-cosmopolitan argument refers not to the impossibility of cosmopolitan motivation, but to the normative infeasibility of getting people to accept the moral costs involved in cosmopolitan motivation.”


Methodology


The methodology chosen for this research is the use of an online survey, which is intended to be responded by former Honduran exchange students who sojourned to various countries. This was the chosen method of data collection due to the survey’s nature in efficiency, allowing a quicker and more effective way to reach many people in a shorter amount of time (Casas, Repullo and Donaldo 2013, 527). A surveycan generally be defined as “A technique thatutilized a set of standardized investigation processes through which a series of data of a sample representing a complete population will be collected and analyzed, with the purpose of describing, predicting or explaining a set of characteristics” (Casas, Repullo and Donaldo 2013, 527). The survey is also useful in this case because it is considered a “subjective” method, this being due to the fact the it allows us to obtain more specific information about a problem or an aspect of theproblem via a questionnaire, according to Frutos (n.d., 1). Martinez (2008, 23) states that an opinion-focused survey can serve as chance to look into many phases and dimensions of society, making it some type of window into society, which is also why a survey is the right choicefor the research, due to the fact that the purposeof the study is to look deeperinto these people’s ideologies.


As any other type of methodology, the use of an online questionnaire or survey also involves the following of a set of steps. According to Casas et al. (2013, 528), this process generally consists of: “identifying a problem, defining its variables, choosing a sample, designingthe questionnaire, organizing the field work,obtaining and treatingthe data, analyzing the data and interpreting the results.” Another similar yet also correct approach to the process is “definingobjectives and hypothesis, making the questionnaire, applying the questionnaire, analyzing the results and finally making a report” (Frutos n.d.). Finally, it is also important to add a “pretesting” step to this process in order to completely make sure the survey works as intended. Pretesting a survey can help generally reduce problems either the researcher or the respondents may have, such as misunderstanding questions, pinpointing problem areas in the questionnaire, and reducing possible unintentional bias in the questions (Ruel, Wagner and Gillespie 2016).


General recommendations for the use of surveys are varied, often referring to how the survey’s questions are fabricated. Brace (2008), for example, mentions many aspects in which one must be careful such as: ensuring the questions are in a language or figure of speech that is easily understandable by respondents, avoiding ambiguity that may exist in the question, and avoiding possible bias in the questions such as hinting more to one answer specifically than others. One must also consider what purpose each questions have and how we intend to achieve that purpose. For starters this can regard what type of question is being implemented, which can be divided into open, closed and mixed questions. Open questions generally leave more space for the respondent to answer freely, closed questions give a specificset of answers from which the respondent can choose from, and mixed questions give optionsfrom which the respondent can choose from, as well as giving the respondent the opportunity to elaborate their own answer (Frutos n.d.).


For this research, aside from the general objective which is, “To identify intercultural exchanges have a significant impact on young sojourner’s ideologies through their exposure to foreign cultures during a long period of time.”, I also added three specific objectives catered to the survey’s purpose. These objectives are: determining in what aspects of their sojourn did ex- participants experience culture shock, observing how the ex-participants social skills had changed during their exchange, and seeing if the sojourners’ political ideologies had been impacted in any way.


The questionnaire will be answered by former exchange students the sojourned to other countries via AFS’s intercultural exchange program. The duration of their period of stay will vary between six to ten months with some exceptions. All of these participants will beHondurans who participated in this program mostly between the years 2015 and 2019 and they will answer questions regarding their stay in another country, how it affected them personally in their ways of thinking, and other general aspects about their experiences. This will help the research have an insight into how these sojourners describe the impact the each of their individual journeys had on their own mentalities, as well as if they acknowledge gaining any values that can be associated with becoming a global citizen according to cosmopolitanism. The questionnaire will consist generally of open questions in order to allow each respondent to freely express themselves, this is because I find that an intercultural exchange is a very personal experience and I predict that each individual will give deeper and more constructive answers if they are given the space to do so.


Survey Results


This survey was distributed to a total of about 143 ex-participants of AFS’s study abroad program, who participated mainly between the years of 2015-2019, via e-mail and social media, with a final response of a total of 43 answers. For the first question, the purpose was to find out how many of the participants were familiar with the term “global citizen” prior to this survey, the responses came in with 74.4% of the respondents saying that they were familiar with the term, and the other 25.6% not having heard of the term before. The very next question was

specifically aimed atthose who answered “yes” in the previousquestion, this questionasked the ex-participants what their concept of a global citizen was. The overall response to this question was a rather accurate depiction of what a global citizen is, mostly focusing on the idea that a global citizen is someone who knows many cultures, is open to the differences they might encounter and has learned to adapt to thesenew environments they might find themselves in.

Some answers along this train of thought include: “An individual who transcends frontiers that have been imposed over us in order to better humanity in most of its aspects.”, “A person who knows many cultures, which has influenced their way of being.” , “Someone who has gottenused to adapting to different cultures due to their experience in other countries/continents” , and “A hospitable, open-minded person who believes in equality and in how getting to know diverse cultures makes them more empathic due to being able to understand people around the globe, it is also a person who believes in creating a fairer world through the use of team work.”




The next question asked the respondents if they were familiar with the term “ideology”. 88.4% of the respondents identified themselves as being familiar with the term, while the other 11.6% said they were not familiar with it. I then asked the respondents who said they were familiar with the term to give me their own concept of an ideology. Most answers identified the concept of an ideologysuccessfully as an individual way of thinking or as a general ensembleof ideas that defined someone. Some of these answers included: “personal beliefs”, “Various ideas that represent a person’s way of thinking”, “a strong idea regarding a specific topic”, and “A society’sset of ideas.”



The next questionasked the sojourners in what year they participated in the study abroad program. With 32.3% of the responses, 2017 was the year from which most participants answered, followed by 2016 with 27.9% of the answers and 2015 being the third most answered with 18.6% of the results. Following up on this question, I asked how much time they spent in their host country, this is important because it determines the amount of time sojourners were constantly exposed to foreign cultures. A great majority of the respondents said their SA program lasted 10 months to a year, 93% of all answers to be precise, with the remaining 7% answering they only stayed abroad for 6 monthstotal, still a large amount of time either way.



After asking how long they spent abroad, I asked what age they were during their SA program. 60.7% of the respondents said they were 17 years old during their intercultural exchange,18.6% said they were 16 years old, and 16.3% said they were 18 years old. Following this question, I asked whether or not they received orientations prior to leaving for their program, to which a grand majority of 97.7% said they did in fact have received orientations, with only 2.3% saying they had not received any.



I then asked the ex-participants what countries they had sojourned to. The great majority of the respondents spent their time abroad in European countries, Italy being the most common among them with 32.6% of the answers, France and Switzerland being tied with 14% each, and the rest being a mix of other countries such as Germany, Austria, Denmark, Belgium and others. Right after this question, I asked the sojourners why they chose their host country. Most of the answers in this question stated that the reason the picked their countries was because of general interests in the country’s language and culture, in a smaller number of cases also stating that the reason they went to a country was because the one they really wanted wasn’t available to be chosen. Some answers like these include “Their language and culture”, “Their gastronomy, culture and language really called my attention”, and “To be honest I wanted Germany from the start, but AFS Honduras at that time had just terminated exchanges to Germany. So, between Austria and Switzerland as my options I chose Switzerland…”


For the next question, I was interested in seeing if sojourners had experience culture shock to any degree, as well as provided them with a general definition of what a culture shock is, to which 81.4%of the respondents answered that they had in fact experienced a culture shock, and the other 18.6% saying they had not. My next question was asking those who said they did experience culture shock, how specifically they felt they experienced it. Many answers resorted to mentioning how different the life style in their host countries was to their native countries in terms of how much independence they were giving “Ithink the biggest shock was how much liberty I had, even while still being underaged”, “The safety and lifestyle”, “I had to learn how to go throughmy day without really depending on my parentsor family.” Otheranswers focused on differences they felt in social interactions and impacts the culture had on them: “I experienced it (culture shock) in my family with their ways and in school with the class’s dynamic changing.”, “Friendships were formed in a colder manner, people had different values in how they thought and acted”, “There were some actions that Swiss people considered normal that I found rather uncomfortable.” I also received a couple of answers indicating that the culture shock happened once they returned to their home country rather than while being abroad, this being an example of reverse cultureshock.



Next question askedthe sojourners if they considered that they had acquired new social skillswhile studying abroad, to which 97.7% said they had. I asked this 97.7% how their exchange had impacted their social skills, many answered that their exchange made them more open and extroverted people when it comes to social interactions, learning to bettercommunicate with others and have an easier time forming new relationships, as wellas gaining a certaindegree of more self-confidence. Some answers include: “I learned to be a more outspoken person”, “I learned how to better behave out of my comfort zone.” “I used to be very shy and short of words. Now I still consider myself a rather reserved person, but I’m not shy anymore, if given the opportunity I can start a conversation with anyone.”



Next, I asked the participants if they knew how to speak the language of the country they visited prior to their exchange, to which 69.8% of respondents said they didn’t at all, 25.6% said they spoke a little ofthe language, and the remaining 4.7% said they did know how tospeak their host county’s language.



I then asked if, after their exchange had ended, they felt that they were completely fluent in the host country’s language, to which 83.7% answered they did, with the remaining 16.3% of participants sayingthey didn’t.



After this, I asked the sojourners if they felt their intercultural exchange impacted their political ideology in any way, to which 60.5% of respondents answered that it didn’t, with only 39.5% of participants saying that it did. I then asked those who answered “yes” to the last questionto detail how it impacted them. Many of the answers indicated that sojourners who did felt their exchange impacted their political beliefs had become more tolerant of other ideologies and leaning more to a liberal standpoint in politics, some examples include: “I am much more liberal now, I castedmy conservative thoughtsto a side.”, “I now understand there is a grey areato things, not necessarily black and white, and that is ok.”, and “I took a more neutral standpoint in the idea that every person has the right to always express their opinion, without hurting other people’s feelings; my family was very democratic.”



My next question consisted in seeing if the respondents felt that their general way of thinking, acting and seeing the world changed. 95.3% of respondents said these aspects did change and only 4.7% said It didn’t. The question right after asked them to detail how these aspects had changed, to which many respondents answered that they got to know themselves better and broadened theirhorizons about the world.I also found there was the recurrent use of the idea that they escaped the “bubble” they were living in. Some general answers include: “I became more tolerant of others.”, “I got to know more things, I learned more, I want to make changes in my life.”, “I see things with a more open mind.”, “It changed in every way, it was a monumental growthto my personal self. I no longer was that boy centered in my own bubble.”



Next question was to see if those who responded the survey currently resided in Honduras, with the next oneafter that being that, if they weren’t living in Honduras, where were they living currently. 60.5% of respondents said they still lived in Honduras, with the remaining 39.5% saying they didn’t. When asked were they currently lived, many countries were listed, including: Italy for 6 of the participants, USA for 5 of them, and other countries such as, Argentina, Brazil, Singapore, and Taiwan to mention a few.


The sojourners were then asked if after their exchange and being exposed to more cultures, they considered themselves more open-minded people, to whichincredibly 100% of theparticipants answered “yes”.



They were then requested to grade on a scale of 1 to 5 how much their general perception of the world had changed after their exchange (1 being no change at all and 5 signifying a huge changein perception). For this question, 65.1% of participants graded their general change with a 5, 18.6% with a 4, and 16.3% with a 3. The following question being directed to those who graded their change with a 3 or more, asked howthe sojourners wouldpersonally say their worldperception had changed in detail. Amongst the varied answers, there was a general tendency to mentioning broadened horizons, introspection and open-mindedness. Some examples being: “I used to live in a certain type of bubble, this experience gave me the chance understand realities and problems I would’ve otherwise hardly noticed.”, “I now believe empathy is something everybody should have for others.”, “It broadened my horizons in reference to life in other countries. It made me understand how far behind Honduras is in terms of our general values and our society.”, “It helped me leave my comfort zone.”



For the last two questions of the survey, respondents were provided the definition of a global citizen and asked if they considered themselves one; and if they did, then how much they thought this was specifically because of their sojourn abroad on a scale of 1 through 5 (with 1 being the least amount of impact and 5 being the most). Only 4.7% of respondents said they did not identify themselves with the term “global citizen”while the other 95.3% said they did. When asked how much this corresponded to their sojourn abroad, 64.3% answered with a 5, 16.7%answered with a 4, 9.5% answered with a 3 and 9.5% answeredwith a 2.




Conclusions


Starting with this research’s hypothesis, after analyzing what was answeredin the survey, I can confirm that a great majority of former exchange students who answered identified themselves as global citizens, while also on many occasions mentioning the possession of traits that one would have according to Cosmopolitanism. For starters, many respondents said they felt they were more open-minded after their sojourn abroad, being better prepared to new experience and general change in their lives, as well as identifying themselves as more empathetic people thanks to being exposed to many different points of view in culture and life style. These traits being sharedwith the cultural theory of Cosmopolitanism then makes my hypothesis true.


Now, as for the proposed objectives: I can confirm that the general objective had been effectively reached, as I was able to identify various different aspects in students’ ideologies and state of mind that changed drastically specifically thanks to their time abroad. I can also determinethat culture shock, along with the age in which they had their experience, is very likely one of the main causes for these drastic changes. Due to being able to experience and being fully immersed in a foreign culture, exchange students are forced into a positionin which they have to adapt to a new way of living, new cultural inputs, and often being put out of their comfort zone; in consequence, they tend to develop new social skills they probably were used to before as well as increase their tolerance to new experiences and daily change in their lives. As for changes in their political ideologies specifically, the survey showed that a majority of sojourner’s didn’t experience any impact in their political ideologies, nevertheless, I was able to detect a generaltendency in those who did feel an impact. Former exchange students who felt their political ideologies were changed, even if it wasn’t most of the respondents, often said that by the end of their exchanges, they leaned more toward liberal and more open-minded ideologies, rather than conservative ones, this again probably being due to experiencing situations and observing differentenvironments they weren’t really able to witness in their home countries.


I can confidently say that this research proves that there is a correlation between intercultural exchange and the creation of new, young global citizens. Having the opportunity to experience differentcultures allows students at young age to broadentheir horizons and ways of thinking, often turning them into more open-minded and empathetic people, which are proper traits of a global citizen. I would also argue that the age factor is most definitely an important variable to be analyzed in this study, due to the fact that ages such as sixteen, seventeen and eighteen years old are generally very ideologically vulnerable stages in human life, stages in which people are trying to find themselves and are very vulnerable to sudden changes in their lives; this, accompanied with the bombardment of new cultures and experiences, molds the young minds of these sojourners in way in which they are more prepared to deal with multicultural environments. Cultural exchange then proves to be a very important event in the lives of thosewho take part init, allowing them to see a different point of view of the world thatthey would have probably otherwise encountered difficult to see.


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