Academic journal article Education

International Education: A Case Study from the University of Jordan

Academic journal article Education

International Education: A Case Study from the University of Jordan

Article excerpt

Introduction

Throughout human history, scientific discoveries brought people closer together. The geographical discoveries of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries are just some examples. The advent of the telephone made great advances in the field of communications, and made it possible for people in far away places to speak to each other. Then came the great scientific and technological discoveries which started during the 2nd half of the 20th century. The advances in computer technology and satellite communications allowed people who were physically far from each other to interact easily and instantly. The world became virtually smaller, and the concept of globalization was born.

It was soon realized by governments, businesses and ordinary people alike that globalization had political, economic and other implications and consequences. Governments wanted to know, and sometimes influence what was happening in other countries. Businesses wanted to find needed resources and open new markets. Scholars wanted to study other societies and cultures. To do those things, they realized the need to study the languages and cultures in other countries, preferably by spending some time there. Thus, globalization was the environment in which international education was conceived. The geopolitical location and the abundance of energy resources in the countries of the Middle East increased the interest of foreign governments in those countries. Moreover, the September 11, 2001 tragic events in New York made many people in the world, especially Americans and Europeans, very keen to know the culture, traditions, beliefs and language in those countries. As a result, there has been a surge in the number of international students studying at universities in the Middle East, including universities in Jordan. Again, the recent upheavals in many Arab countries in what is known as the Arab Spring helped increase the number of students coming to Jordan because the country continued to be safe and stable.

This paper describes a research study on international education at the University of Jordan (UJ). The study was conducted at the end of the fall semester 2011/2012. It attempted to evaluate the benefits gained by international students in four major domains: personal growth, cultural awareness, knowledge of world affairs and career enhancement.

Literature Review

A number of organizations strive to promote peace among the people of the world by helping young people increase their knowledge and understanding of their peers in other countries. One of the strategies they use is the international or intercultural study programs. Moreover, living and working in today's global community, adults are expected to develop sensitivity to other cultures, practices, traditions, beliefs and communications. The ability of adults to adapt their behavior to cultural differences is becoming very valuable in the globalized business (Landis & Bhagat as cited in Anderson, Lawton, Rexeisen & Hubbard, 2006). One way to achieve that goal is through the study abroad programs.

A common benefit gained by students studying in other countries is their exposure to different social and cultural environments, refraining from stereotyping other nationalities and perceiving the world in a different perspective. The ability to grasp the discursive biases in our notion of the world makes up what Stier (2004) called "discourse awareness." Moreover, such students, compared to their colleagues who do not participate in study abroad programs, become more mature, their personal growth enhanced and their self- efficacy increased. Studying abroad transforms students' global perspectives and cross-cultural effectiveness (Dwyer as cited in Coryell, 2011) and can increase self-reliance and self- confidence (Corda 2007 as cited in Coryell, 2011). Those students tend to become more globally oriented, viewing themselves as world citizens, i. …

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