Week 9: Ethical Global Engagement

Before reading and watching the texts on global volunteering, I thought that volunteering globally was very important and helpful to foreign communities. I thought that volunteering was volunteering and that it was all good. I never considered how different types of volunteering could have different levels of impact or how volunteering could even be harmful for the people you are trying to help. I found the article “To Get into Harvard, Go to Hatti” very thought provoking. I realized that it is true that many students go on extravagant mission trips for the sake of writing a story about it in their college essays. I remember in high school wishing that I had gone over seas so that I could have a profound volunteer experience to write about and impress colleges with. I do not believe that this type of volunteering is helpful, because the volunteer is going through the motions of what they should do without actually caring about the people they are “helping.” The people being helped can easily see through the facade and know that they are not being helped, but are being exploited. I was shocked when watching the video that shows the good and bad to volunteering abroad. I feel that voluntourism can do more harm than good, especially in the case of helping orphans. There should be more information provided to volunteers demonstrating to them the impact of their abandoning has on children. I believe that if people were more aware of this impact, fewer people would volunteer internationally for programs that cause more harm than good.


Over Thanksgiving break, I went to with my family to visit my grandmother in Nashville. She asked about school and I told her about Introduction to Study Abroad. My grandmother never went to college and she has always wanted to travel abroad. She thought the idea of spending a semester studying abroad would be an amazing thing to do. She was very excited about all of the traveling opportunities that would be available to me if I chose to study in Europe. She was concerned, however, because she thought studying abroad was expensive. I told her that that was a common misconception and that I could study abroad for even less than I pay to study at VCU. She was thrilled to hear this and she told me to send her lots of postcards from Europe!

Week 12 & 13: Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, it was just my mom and I. When I brought up going abroad, she sighed, rolled her eyes, and said, “Madelyn, not this conversation again.” She’s very aware that I want to go abroad, and she supports me 100% (and if she didn’t, I could easily bring up how my brother went to Rome for a summer to study Latin, so it’s only fair). She wants me to go to France, I want to go to Malta. However, after binging the BBC show ‘Peaky Blinders’ during break with her and falling in love with one of the lead actors who is from Cork, Ireland, we both want to go to Ireland. I haven’t looked into studying abroad in Ireland, but I imagine theres a nice program in place.

Week 11: Global Education

Part 1:  I think that international students feel isolated from American students because Americans are polite, yet distant. In the videos, the Israeli student thought that all Americans were fake because they would ask how you are doing and not actually care. He did not understand that extensions of compassion were actually just social norms meant to demonstrate politeness, rather than caring. There is an international student from Spain in one of my classes. He is on the tennis team, but he seems to mainly spend time with other Spanish students on the team. He never talks about spending time with American friends. I think that a lot of domestic students at VCU do not understand the difficulty of students who study abroad. To be honest, I never thought of studying abroad as potentially challenging socially until I took this class. I think that VCU could do a better job of informing domestic students that international students face a lot of challenges and that you should reach out to them, because they may be shy.

Part 2: In high school, I had a French teacher who had moved from France to Texas. She experienced major culture shock. She even remembered seeing telephone wires above ground and wondering if she was in a third world country. I expect to experience culture shock wherever I end up studying. All cultures are different. I grew up in northern Virginia, and even the differences in my hometown’s culture and Richmond’s culture are profound. I thought that the international student’s take on the “American Phrasebook” was funny. I had never thought about how as Americans, we say one thing, but mean another. I understand how this may be very confusing for an international student. From what the international student was saying, it seemed that many other cultures are much more direct. They say what they mean, not what is culturally acceptable.

Part 3: I think that study away experiences can be just as fulfilling as study abroad experiences, based on your goals. For some, getting out of their comfort zone and learning about a new culture is the goal. For these people, studying away can be a more cost-effective alternative. In high school, my mom was a part of a study away exchange program. She said that she learned a lot without spending a lot. Other students have goals of learning about a specific culture or a specific language. For these students studying abroad is more effective. While America can provide a global learning experience, there is no substitute for a full emersion experience in the country of interest.

Part 4: I believe that there is a balance that can be struck between allowing international students into American universities and aiding first-generation college students and low-income students into universities. From my own experience, I have learned a lot from international students from my short time at VCU. I feel that they have taught in ways that I could not have learned from a classroom professors. From my own experience, I see little downside of admitting international students into American universities.

Week 11: Global Education

Part 1

As we discussed in class, a lot of international students feel more comfortable around other international students because they have more in common with them. Also, with us Americans, I feel like it’s easy to meet us, but to get and maintain a relationship with us is hard, which is why many Americans believe in keeping minimal friends. The article mostly talks about the importance of forming new connections with different people. At my time at VCU, I have met international students but I haven’t genuinely made connections with them, nor would consider them as a friend.  I think to make this less of  a problem, it should be a club of people that want to ensure international students feel welcome.

Part 2

I could definitely relate to the students’ responses about culture shock. When I was younger, I saw culture shock on a smaller scale, as in culture shock within your own nation. In the United States alone, I’ve observed with my own eyes people not being familiar with their own neighbors. Even the way different American cultures talk is different. Sometimes, you can even tell which area a person is from just because of their accent. As for what international students could get confused on, a lot of our slang doesn’t make sense in America.

Part 3

I do think It is possible to have a valuable global experience without leaving the US, although, I don’t think it would be as significant as actually leaving. One of the things this article taught me was that 40% of the United States population are minorities and 10% are foreign born. We have the opportunities to immerse ourselves in different cultures right in our own backyards. In my opinion, even though it’s easier to just not go abroad, going abroad could single-handedly have a way greater effect on you. Being in the place where the culture originated had the greater chance of you really learning and understanding their traditions and customs.

Part 4

After reading this article, I can see why international students are important, yet I can see why they can affect the American college experience as well. It’s important that American students be culturally aware, but also, colleges make it such a priority to get international students and end up neglecting those in the United States. College recruiters spend time, money, and resources on ensuring international students are covered rather than us.

Week 11: Global Education

PART 1: I think the reason international students are having trouble making friends is because Americans view those international students as objects, rather than actual people. Yes, like the Inside Higher Ed article said, American students are helpful and friendly but they don’t know how to take it a step further and engage in a friendship. I have interacted with international students, but only in a classroom setting. I haven’t had the courage to ask one of them to hang out (well, I haven’t had the courage to ask anyone to hang out yet, international or American student…) I think a good way VCU can intergrate international and non international students is through the buddy system (like what VCU’s Globe does but on a larger scale). Any willing American student would be paired up based on interests and lifestyles with an international student. I know I would participate.

PART 2: I can mildly relate to his sense of culture shock. I’ve never been out of the country (or anywhere out of Virgina really) so I haven’t felt ‘international culture shock’ but i’ll say I experienced it to a smaller degree when I came to VCU. When classes started, I felt like I had a target on my back, like everyone knew I was a freshman. I know that is absolutley absurd and no one actually cares who or what you are, but it took a while to adjust. Like the student in the video felt, I also felt anxiety, loneliness, and frustration. I think, no matter where you go in the world, culture shock is the same (up to a certain degree). I think what he says about ‘the American Phrasebook’ is absolutley true. 100%. Especially after hearing from those 3 international students in class and how confused they were by someone asking ‘how are you?’ and keep on walking. An example of one of these phrases is “Later!” To Americans, ‘later!’ is just a harmless saying we use when leaving. But, in the French culture, it’s considered rude. I learned that from a French exchange student I befriended Senior year.

PART 3: I do think it’s possible to have just the same ‘cultural enriching’ experience in the States as it is ouverseas. Instead of living with a host family in Mexico, you could live with one in Texas or Los Angeles. They have the same exact culture, the only thing thats different is the location. The only difference I can think of is missing out on the travel or scenery, but then again you can travel in the U.S and see breathtaking sights just the same. In my opinion, people want to study abroad to leave the U.S., to go somewhere that’s a vacation, instead of culture. In other words, they chase the location and potiental ‘photo-opts’ instead of the culture.

PART 4: I think there should be a healthly equilibrium between how many domestic and international students there are at any given university. I think it’s important to have first generation U.S. students and international students considered for admission equally. I do think that lower-income students feel odd to be surounded by higher-income students, but that happens anywhere. The only example of ‘costs outweighing the benefits’ of having too many international students is just that- too many. If the majority of students at a university are international instead of domestic, then I think it would be appropriate to revaluate  the admission process.


1)What college did you attend?

2)What did you study in college and how long?

3)How old are you?

4)Is the Sensory Integration approach useful and necessary in Occupational therapy?

5)Does it have a huge affect on children if you choose to use different methods on kids rather than just using the Sensory Integration (SI) approach

6) What is the best way to separate personal feelings and work? I know it’s hard to try hard with something or someone ad no progress is made, so is it best to keep your emotions and professionalism together?

7) Do you enjoy the school atmosphere for your career field? Why?

8)What are the major problems in the career field?

9) What do you feel is the best way to fix or solve these problems?

10) Have you ever been or studied abroad? Do you think going abroad is beneficial to being an Occupational Therapist.


When I graduate college , I plan on becoming a pediatric occupational Therapist. For my interview, I wanted to ask questions that I always ponder, and things I knew were going to be useful for me in the long run. Renee Kotva is someone I look up to because of her accomplishments at such a young age. She is a 26-year-old pediatric Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) at an elementary school in Indianapolis, Indiana, hoping to be a OTR soon. Ms. Kotva attended Brown Mackie College in Indianapolis for her COTA degree but before that she received a B.S of Human Biology at Logan University. Also, as of last year she was in the OTR program at the University of Findlay in Ohio. She expressed to me that having her bachelors was cool for her because she feels like knowing background knowledge of the human body and it makes her a better COTA. As for using a type of approach or method for her counseling she says, “I do not use a specific approach or frame or reference to treat” however she believes “many children benefit from sensory accommodations more than any other aspects of treatment. When I had asked her about separating her emotions from her work, she responded by saying “this is a hard question”. She continued to go on about how some nights she’s stayed up countless hours thinking about a certain caseload and patients, but she finds that taking her feelings out, would make her less effective. Ms. Kotva loves doing her job in the school atmosphere very much. She likes the fact that her caseloads maintain the same throughout the school year, allowing her to form genuine connections and there is so much excitement when she sees progress. As fa as the problems in her field, she feels there is a disconnection between administration and the therapy staff. The special education department is comprised of mostly teachers at not only the school where she worked, but schools all over the country.  She says, “it’s frustrating because they do not know or sometimes understand different laws, regulations and rules that therapists have to go by, including OT, PT, speech and psychologists.”. This issue can be resolved by ensuring that the school districts should have some type of therapist not only in each school, but one represented in the administration. Lastly, she feels like going abroad is important in being a pediatric occupational therapist. A lot of kids are from different cultures are in need of assistance so going abroad would really help with that. As for her going abroad, she has traveled a lot and has recently moved to Anchorage, Alaska. She said she’ll update me on all her Alaskan adventures because “she’s only a phone call away”. 

Professional Interview

I interviewed Nurse Laura Benn for my professional interview assignment. Laura’s daughter is studying abroad currently, so Laura is very excited about the opportunity to study abroad. Laura told me that studying abroad would be helpful in any job because it provides the opportunity for personal growth and independence (these characteristics will transfer to the workplace). America is geographically isolated, so it is important for students to seek out study abroad opportunities in order to be competitive in a global job market. Laura said that communication and flexibility are key to being a good nurse. She believes these things could be practiced and pushed to your personal limits by studying abroad. Laura sees patients from many backgrounds and nationalities. She told me that she interacts with patients based on their culture as not to offend them and to comply with how they prefer to receive health care.

On a more global, broad view, nursing is very global. You may think of your nursing staff and healthcare services as local and personalized, but the medical world is very globally connected. For example, the majority of surgical equipment used in American hospitals comes from Germany. As a nurse, Laura could become involved in politics relating to healthcare. To do this, it would be helpful to understand how other countries’ health care systems work. Studying abroad would help understand this.

Week 10: Danger of a Single Story

As a middle class, white college student, people expect me to be fairly closed minded about the world and how others live. My background is the “single story” held against me. People think that because I have a certain level of privilege that I can’t empathize with the problems and suffering of others or understand what makes us different. I know that there are people out there who are different than me. I am not racist because I am white, and I am not homophobic because I am straight. I take classes like World Religions and Study Abroad to increase my understanding of diversity and learn how to be more inclusive. I want to study abroad to appreciate and celebrate differences between people and cultures rather than to polarize and discriminate against them. I hope and expect my study abroad experience will make me more culturally aware and that people will recognize and see this in me.

I met my roommate in high school and she seemed like almost every South Asian woman I had ever met: hardworking, family oriented, and wealthy. She told me that her father and mother moved to America for better opportunities and I assumed she meant that her father came here to become a heart surgeon and her mother a computer wizard. What I have learned recently, though is that her father is an entrepreneur, who never went to college and her mother is a stay-at-home-mom. The only entrepreneurs and stay-at-home-moms I had ever known were white and I was surprised to learn that this is what her parents did. My single story of South Asians was that they were usually doctors or worked in information technology.

Week 10: The Danger of a Single Story

There are many single stories I feel that people hold against me, but the two most common is race and religion. Because I am African American, many people think I should act a certain way. They believe black people are all loud (although I am loud), talk a certain way, that we’re from the hood and know no different, and that black women are “angry black women”. I find that often times people mix up the culture with the stereotypes, and the stereotypes most of the time don’t apply. It’s like we don’t get credit or are noticed until someone does something wrong that everyone else thinks proves how they think we act. Something Chimamanda Adichie said that really stuck with me was that the single story creates stereotypes that aren’t necessarily wrong, but they are incomplete, meaning the single stories made on people about their race isn’t what’s all to them as a person. Another single story people hold against me is my religion. They think just because I am a Christian and I’m not afraid to show it, I have to act a certain way. And if and when I neglect to act the way they expect, they’re quick to call me out on it and say I’m doing something wrong. A single story that I hold to others and absolutely need to get over is probably political affiliation. I preach freedom of speech but If I don’t agree or at least see where another persons political beliefs are coming from, I quickly dismiss it. This just means I should really keep a more open mind.

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