The role of international student exchange in cross-cultural understanding
The research studies changes in attitudes of Russian students who spent half a year studying at one of the universities in Northern Norway. The research attempts to answer the question “How does the international educational exchange contribute to cross-cultural understanding and peace?” Theory of intergroup contact serves as a theoretical basis of the analysis. The main hypothesis of contact theory says that through the contact between representatives of different cultures an individual gains knowledge and experience that positively changes his\her attitude towards them. Nine former participants of Russian-Norwegian student exchange programs were interviewed. They shared their experiences before, in the course of and after the sojourn. The study of interviews showed that subjects’ attitudes towards the group focused on (Norwegians) did not change after the sojourn. The analysis explains such results by low extent of interaction due to the lack of common social settings; by initial attitude formed by the experiences of others; by the need to belong that strengthens “home” identity and leads to high extent of interaction with compatriots. However the main gain of the international exchange is the formation of translocal subjectivity that is shaped according to the place where the person resides. Having acquired knowledge and personal experience students changed attitudes towards their own society and themselves stepping out of ethnocentric cultural brackets.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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