Implementation of Global Citizenship 1-2-3

As we have noted, study abroad represents an authentic experience that can be utilized to expand participants’ worldview, thus enabling them to become global citizens. Since its development, Global Citizenship 1-2-3 has been an organizational facet of a short-term study abroad program to South Africa, guiding the conceptualization of the content and experiences that occur in country as well as the pre- and post-trip activities.

Background of Program

The program was conceived after the first author traveled to the Western Cape near the city of Cape Town several times to engage in humanitarian work. Upon returning from one such trip, he was informed of a partnership

Global Citizenship 1-2-3 and Study Abroad 25 between the University of North Carolina Charlotte and Stellenbosch University, which is located in a city about 50 km from Cape Town. In an effort to broaden the relationship between two universities through the inclusion of education-focused programming, the respective offices for international programs facilitated communication between faculty members in education from each university to discuss and identify short-term study abroad opportunities for candidates. Initial focus was placed upon U.S. students traveling to South Africa and through a collaborative effort between the first author and two faculty members from Stellenbosch, a program was designed that would provide elementary education majors with the opportunity to compare the educational systems of the United States and South Africa and, in turn, explore manifestations of power, privilege and multicultural perspectives relative to the United States and South Africa, broadly as well as specific to educational institutions. Subsequently, the program also incorporated additional opportunities to explore the culture and history of the country through content presented in coursework and in-country experiences, which are detailed later.

In its current form, the study abroad program encompasses 4 weeks in South Africa. The participants reside in a guest house a short distance from the university for the duration of the program. One or both of the authors travel with the students, developing the schedule in partnership with faculty and staff from Stellenbosch and serving as a co-instructor/facilitator within coursework. Participants can elect to enroll in up to 6 credit hours, taking 1—2 courses while abroad. The primary course for all participants focuses on topics associated with diversity, equity and inclusion within schools and educational contexts. Candidates explore these concepts through literature, direct experiences and joint lectures from the faculty from both universities. The second course was only recently added and is focused on community engagement, with candidates seeking to explore NGOs or other community-based organizations in South Africa that support schools and students within the broader municipal area and the historically segregated township that is a few miles from the university. Notably, the program includes direct opportunities for candidates to observe and teach in local elementary schools over the final 3 weeks in South Africa. These visits are facilitated by the faculty at Stellenbosch University as they identify and work directly with the schools to schedule these opportunities. In doing so, they seek to provide 2—3 different school sites that are visited by all candidates to enable them to experience the diversity inherent within the South African educational system.


Given the broader focus on education as well as the teaching and observations that occur within elementary schools, which are described within the recruiting efforts, the program is comprised of participants who are primarily undergraduate candidates majoring in elementary education. Consistent withthe demographics of the major and profession, most participants are Caucasian females between 18 and 22 years old. However, in recent years, participation has been expanded to undergraduate students who have a specific interest in education. As a result, the program has drawn participants from other majors, including public health and computer science. The outcome of this expansion has been a diversification of the participants. On average, the program attracts between seven and nine participants each year.

Culturally Responsive Content

Given the importance of developing foundational knowledge associated with South African culture prior to departure, the culturally responsive aspects of the program begin 1—2 months before departure within orientation sessions facilitated by the faculty member leading the program. Most program participants have very limited knowledge of South Africa before attending the orientation sessions, thus focus is on the introduction of the history and socio-cultural aspects of South Africa. For example, few participants know about South Africa’s multilingual society where there are 12 official languages, including sign language, so we introduce them to basic greetings in isiXhosa, which is one of the languages spoken in the South African elementary schools they visit.

Prior to the study abroad program, the participants also read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. We use this book as a foundational text for debrief discussions that occur over the 4 weeks in South Africa. Throughout the program, candidates read other texts about diversity, equity and inclusion. They also attend presentations about the South African education system and the legacies of apartheid inherent in the education system. Excursions to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held, and the District Six Museum, which documents the forced relocation of a community near Cape Town, further demonstrate aspects of apartheid and the history of the country.

Global-Itifused Content

As part of the content introduced within coursework, the faculty member leading the trip is tasked with determining content that has both local and global significance and integrating it within the overall experience. Given the applicability to the locale, global-infused content within prior trips has focused on poverty, quality education, language, and sustainable cities and communities. When possible, we coordinate with South African peers to identify university personnel or local residents with expertise in the content. During our 2018 study abroad program, for example, Cape Town was facing the threat of “Day Zero”, when the city would run out of water entirely. Given this situation, the participants engaged in an investigation of Sustainable Development Goal #6: Clean Water and Sanitation. This engagement included a day-long field investigation with a local professor

Global Citizenship 1-2-3 and Study Abroad 27 who showed the teacher candidates the impact of water, sanitation and health (WASH) issues and the accessibility of clean water to residents who live in townships, which includes the children who attend the schools where candidates are placed.

Experiential Opportunities

The experiential opportunities within the program offer dual-level benefits. First, the cultural immersion associated with going abroad and living in South Africa creates a sense of cognitive dissonance as participants experience constant “feelings of being an outsider” (Willard-Holt, 2001, p. 515). Second, the participants engage in more than 40 hours of observation and teaching at local elementary schools. These field experiences are divided among schools designated at different levels within the school classification system within South Africa. For example, during one trip, one school was classified in the second quintile, which means there are no school fees; while the second school was in the fifth quintile, which meant student fees were substantially higher to attend this school. The schools were selected by faculty at the South African university based upon the authors’ wishes to create experiences in schools with varying resources and diverse student populations. We held daily debrief sessions about connecting the international teaching experiences with the study abroad program readings.

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