Results obtained from qualitative and quantitative measures revealed growth across all research questions moving from Phase 1 to Phase 3 of the project, particularly in the adaptation and integration stages of intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, and increasing Setswana language and communication skills. Additionally, the collaboration between Botswana and United States teacher educators and teacher candidates during all three phases of the project was strengthened with team development of accessible curricular activities. For example, participants and teachers from Botswana created and maintained professional communications regarding instruction after Phase 3.

For intercultural sensitivity, participants reported the highest scores in the stages of acceptance and adaptation with growth also noted in integration during Phases 2 and 3. Acceptance is the stage where individuals recognize and appreciate patterns of cultural difference and embrace a deeper understanding of cultural differences. Adaptation is the next stage on the continuum where individuals shift cultural perspective and focus on learning adaptive strategies. Participant growth in the stages of acceptance and adaptation was further supported by generally high scores in “openness” and “empathy” on the Intercultural Knowledge and Competence Value Rubric. Integration is the final stage of intercultural sensitivity which is rare and difficult to achieve. This finding is also supported by the variable scores on the cultural self-awareness and worldview framework sections on the Intercultural Knowledge and Competence Value Rubric. Cushner et al. (2012) note that the integration stage requires “deep self-awareness and an individual being able to move in and out of their own worldview” (p. 165).

Unexpectedly, participants reported minimal growth in “perceptual understanding” on the Intercultural Sensitivity Survey. Perceptual understanding has been identified to include open-mindedness, resistance tostereotyping, complexity of thinking, and perspective consciousness (Olson and Kroeger, 2001). This finding may be due to participants already possessing many of these skills prior to departure or may be consistent with the variability in scores found on the Intercultural Knowledge and Competence Value Rubric with results displaying the uniqueness of each participant (i.e., differences in personalities, prior knowledge, learning styles, levels of independence, and background experiences). This was the first out-of-country experience for 7 out of the 12 participants and the first time to Africa for most of the participants. Morley et al. (2019) emphasized that programs can “inadvertently reinforce harmful stereotypes” which often occur when participants travel from the global north to global south (Morley et al., 2019, p. 5). Inequities, privilege, and power dynamics within educator study abroad programs need to be understood and reflected upon through all stages of planning and implementation.

All 12 participants reported growth in learning the Setswana language with “can do” statements changing from “this is a goal for me” to “I can do this” in categories of exchanging information, meeting personal needs, and expressing preferences. The ability to communicate in Setswana with children and teachers in the classroom setting and during activities in local communities helped make the program a success. Exposure to Botswana history and culture was interwoven throughout the experience with score increases on related questions on the Intercultural Sensitivity Survey and review of participant reflections.

Implications for Practice

Throughout the planning and execution of this project, the instructors noted several implications for practice. When providing study abroad experiences, it is important to provide a variety of experiences that include language seminars taught both at home and abroad, cultural content seminars taught both at home and abroad, experiential cultural opportunities, and time to communicate and spend with people from the host country. The richness and purposefulness of activities is significant in facilitating cultural competence and cross-cultural communication skills for future professionals (e.g., creating lessons for children to learn about Botswana).

The instructors found that providing pre-departure information, such as information about the Botswana culture and learning some key Setswana phrases proved helpful to participants. Additionally, creating opportunities for participants to interact directly with people from Botswana through a video platform was positively received. They could ask questions about what to wear, what to expect, how to greet others, and about specific needs experienced by children with autism and developmental disabilities along with their families and teachers. Clearly stating goals prior to leaving the country and revisiting these goals throughout the project activities in Botswana helped to keep participants focused and engaged. The instructors found that

Interprofessional Study Abroad Experience 163 sharing the Bennett’s Model of Intercultural Sensitivity stages during the predeparture phase helped participants know what to expect while experiencing a new culture and being far away from the comforts of home.

Team building was a component of the project that was emphasized from the beginning to the end of the project. During Phase 1, teams were formed and participants worked on team building skills using a step by step team building process that included setting goals, assigning roles, outlining steps to reach goals, types of communication, and strategies to evaluate effectiveness. This process was referred to and expanded throughout Phase 2 as participants worked in teams to create curricular projects and activities and Botswana partners worked alongside team members to assist with creating curriculum projects. While this project incorporated interprofessional education with special educators and SLPs, and the assessment variables involved interprofessional collaboration, a specific interprofessional measurement tool was not utilized. Consideration for future interprofessional educator study abroad experiences should include a tool from the Interprofessional Education Collaborative Core Competencies which addresses Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice, Koles/Responsibilities, Interprofessional Communication, and Teams and Teamwork (Interprofessional Education Collaborative, 2016).

The instructors cannot overstate the importance of the partnership created with educators and administrators in the host country and the support provided by the grant. Many of the participants would not have had the opportunity for an international experience without grant funding. Partners in the host country took the lead in preparing for school visits, accommodations, transportation, meetings, and cultural activities. Additionally, several of our host country partners accompanied the group throughout the trip and assisted with navigating challenges that arose. This close partnership facilitated participant growth in cultural competence.

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