1st Edition

Becoming World Wise A Guide to Global Learning

By Richard Slimbach Copyright 2010

    As world travel is growing exponentially, “alternative” travel has grown apace: from ecotourism, gap years, short-term mission trips, cultural travel-study tours, and foreign language study, to college-level study abroad, “voluntourism”, and international service-learning. This book is intended to help the new generation of ethical and educational travelers make the most of their international experience, and show them how to broaden their cultural horizons while also making a contribution to their host community.This book guides independent and purposeful learners considering destinations off the “beaten path” on connecting with a wider world. Whether traveling on their own, or as part of a group arranged by an educational institution, humanitarian organization, or congregation, this book will enable them to make their international encounter rewarding, authentic, enriching, and learning-oriented. This book draws on the author’s extensive travel and many years of guiding college students’ global learning. Richard Slimbach offers a comprehensive framework for pre-field preparation that includes, but goes beyond, discussions of packing lists and assorted “do’s and don’ts” to consider the ultimate purposes and practical learning strategies needed to enter deeply into a host culture. It also features an in-depth look at the post-sojourn process, helping the reader integrate the experiences and insights from the field into her or his studies and personal life. This book constitutes a vital road map for anyone intent on having their whole being—body, mind, and heart—stretched through the intercultural experience. Becoming World Wise offers an integrated approach to cross-cultural learning aimed at transforming our consciousness while also contributing to the flourishing of the communities that host us. While primarily intended for foreign study and service situations, the ideas are just as relevant to intercultural learning within domestic settings. In a “globalized” world, diverse cultures intermingle near and far, at home and abroad.

    Introduction A World in Motion Pathways to Global Learning Raising the Bar The Common Good Mapping the Journey Gratitudes 1. Wise For The World A Drowning Creation A Distant World Only? Competing Purposes Millennials Rising Bridging the World Rethinking Development Choosing the High Road 2. The Story We Need Misadventures Abroad No Loom to Learn By The Great Dream Redemption Story Awakening from the False Dream 3. The Mindful Traveler When Ethics Travel Travel Worlds All About Me? The Journey towards Mindfulness 4. Making Preparations What Type of Program is Best for Me? Should I Travel Alone or With Companions? How Do I Obtain a Passport and Any Necessary Visas? How Should I Prepare for Potential Health Risks? What Should I Do to Stay Safe and Secure in the Country? How Do I Go About Making Travel Arrangements? What’s the Best Way to Handle Mail and Money? What Personal Details Do I Need to Settle Prior to Departure? How Do I Decide What and How to Pack? 5. Carrying Knowledge Cultivating Relationships Contacting Experts Reading Ethnographies Viewing Select Films Conducting Electronic Searches 6. Living With Paradox Losing Cultural Footing The Belly of the Whale The Path of Transformation From Travail to Transformation 7. Getting Oriented The First 48 Hours Settling In Wandering About Crossing Thresholds Community Reconnaissance Regions Beyond 8. The Journey Home “You Can’t Go Home Again” Somewhere Over the Rainbow? Bringing the World Home “I Didn’t Expect That” The Ambivalence of Home Thriving at the Margins Hidden Within the Linings


    Richard Slimbach is Coordinator of the Global Studies Program at Azusa Pacific University. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative and international education and has extensive experience living and working abroad. Slimbach founded Azusa’s Los Angeles Term and Global Learning Term programs, the latter as a self-directed, full-immersion study and service abroad program that has enabled students to conduct small-scale community research and academic service-learning projects in over 50 countries. He continues to design cross-cultural programs aimed at linking learners from the global North with those from the South in ways that promote deep intercultural learning and help mend the fractures of the world.

    "Becoming World Wise is a superb resource for educational travelers... Because the content is not country-specific, the book can be used in courses and workshops enrolling students going to any destination. In short, Becoming World Wise is an excellent pedagogical tool."

    NAFSA Resource Library

    "This engagingly written book provides helpful guidance to anyone going on an educational, service or mission trip abroad and guidance in how to make the experience an optimum learning experience. Rich in anthropological and sociological insight, this is the perfect book for those who wish to combine travel with learning and service."

    Robert J. Priest Director, PhD Program in Intercultural Studies

    Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

    “Richard Slimbach is one of the most engaging and provocative thinkers and writers about global education. In this book he reminds us that educational travel in its best form involves our entire being. By opening ourselves completely to the communities that host us in our travels, we not only come to know our hosts more deeply, but also ourselves more intimately. This is essential reading for all of us involved in global education.”

    Brian Whalen, Ph.D.

    Executive Director, Global Education, Dickinson College

    “Too many Americans are traveling abroad without really ever leaving the country. Richard Slimbach provides us with the tools to do better. This is the kind of thoughtful, engaging and useful book that we have needed for a long time. It should be read by every educator sending students abroad, every student getting ready to study abroad, and any adult/professional traveler who wants to become a mindful traveler and a global citizen."

    Adam Weinberg, President and CEO, World Learning

    “Slimbach’s book raises an important question about the rush to internationalize college students’ educations. He asks, 'Globally competent for what purpose?' and proceeds to give some thought-provoking responses. He describes education as a public and common good that should be applied to improving the human condition. His words challenge students and international educators to make choices that will foster full cross-cultural engagement in their communities. Addressed directly to students going abroad, it discusses both questions of purpose and direct practical concerns of students preparing to study overseas. He invites all of us to use our international experiences to make a difference.”

    Mell Bolen, President, BCA Study Abroad

    “Richard Slimbach has skillfully taken on a gargantuan task in writing a comprehensive guide to global learning. His broad reach to students, volunteers and other global travelers is held together by a search for the common good defined as ‘the healing of a broken world.’ The resulting pedagogy for global learning guides the reader through a process of focused reflection, information and preparation to consider both ultimate purposes and practical learning strategies for entering deeply into another host culture. This is a much needed and valuable resource for both faculty and students engaged in global learning."

    Orval Gingerich, Assistant Vice President of International Programs at Augsburg College

    "Becoming World Wise comprehensively examines all facets of the study abroad experience and provides invaluable information and important resources to help bridge cultural gaps and make the most of an educational journey. But the book is more than a great planning guide. Through penetrating discussions and reflective questions, the author offers a gateway to personal transformation and a greater global consciousness concerned with humanity's welfare. Becoming World Wise is recommended for students who not only want to connect to the world but who also want to think and act for the world.

    J. Michael Adams, President, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and President-Elect, International Association of University Presidents