Rationale and Goals

Cross cultural learning experiences will be structured to build a knowledge base and provide direct experience of another culture. Through both modes of learning, students interact more competently with people in a cross cultural context. The following goals guide the cross cultural program:

  • Cross Cultural Understanding
    Openness to a new way of experiencing the world will be developed through observing and interacting with people whose values, communication patterns, ways of knowing, and world view have been shaped by a different culture. Reflection and discussion of personal responses to cultural similarities and differences will be the focus of learning. Language acquisition, home stays, and a relationship with a host or host family or with individuals of another culture will greatly facilitate the development of cross-cultural understanding.
  • Cultural Self-Awareness
    An ability to understand and value one's own culture alongside the culture of another is an important counterpart of cross cultural learning. Interaction with a different culture creates many opportunities to better comprehend how North American culture has influenced one's personal values, beliefs, and assumptions.
  • Global Awareness
    Students will look beyond their own culture to understand social systems and institutions from the perspective of people in another culture. A conceptual framework that values the interdependent nature of cultures will be developed for examining the dynamic forces shaping any society-- religious, political, economic, social, artistic, geographic, and historical.
  • Religious Understanding and Formation
    Cultural awareness is the ability to discern where true reflections of God's image are found in both the home and target culture. Likewise, the cross cultural experience can help one discern religious understandings that are purely cultural and that may distort portions of God's truth in both the home and target culture. To facilitate this discernment, students will compare how faith and moral values are incorporated into the daily life of the home and target culture. Students will give particular attention to how the person and teachings of Jesus are made relevant to the social context by the Christian church. "All cultures reflect the image of God, and at the same time, all cultures distort the image of God" - Calvin Shenk .
  • Integration of Learning into Students Worldview and Lifestyle
    Students are encouraged to participate in ongoing activities related to their cross cultural experiences upon their "return" to campus. These could include involvement in service-learning programs, reunions, class assignments, chapels, mentoring and orientation of new students going on cross cultural experiences, participation in selected NNU activities, continued reading and journaling.