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Meeting the other and oneself: experience and learning in international, upper secondary sojourns
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of the study was to investigate into and characterise students’ experiences of learning from their having taken part in an international upper secondary exchange in an intercultural context. Focusing on educational and intercultural dimensions, the thesis contributes knowledge of the implications of increasing internationalization and student mobility in education. The study builds on audio-recorded qualitative, in-depth interviews with Swedes and Chileans who respectively sojourned in Chile and Sweden as upper secondary students. The analysis of the narratives draws on theories regarding qualification, socialization and subjectification - the three educational functions or processes identified by Biesta (2010) - and learning from experiences, particularly experiences of disjuncture leading to feelings of disturbed harmony and experiences from encounters and engagement with others (Jarvis, 2009; Biesta, 2010; Hansen, 2011). As extracurricular activities with 'recreational' elements, upper secondary sojourns are often not taken into account by students' educational institutions. However, the results from this study show that sojourners experience transformative changes and extensive learning related to qualification, socialization and (particularly) subjectification. Furthermore, they perceive the as different, more holistic and complete than learning in other contexts. When leaving the familiarity and comfort in the home environment and engaging with the relative unfamiliarity of everyday activities in an international, intercultural the sojourners commonly confront perceived limitations and cross both physical (geographical) and conceptual boundaries. Such confrontations and crossing often lead to experiences of disjuncture and disturbed harmony. The complex processes of resolving difficulties, understanding and meaning making are sources to learning that infuse a sojourn with potential to foster learning as a 'bildungsreise’. There are notable potentials for transformations of sojourners' views of both the other and themselves, involving increases in self-confidence, personal growth, connectedness and feelings of being qualified, capable and empowered, which promote synergistic developments in all three educational functions. Notably, the homestay, communicative situations and interpersonal interactions provide such situations of potent learning opportunities that boost personal growth. In sojourners' engagement and interest in the other, and willingness to consider other perspectives and modify one’s own there are apparent potentials for further developments of an intercultural and cosmopolitan attitude and outlook. A major conclusion, based on the presented evidence, is that even short stays (potentially less costly than longer stays) provide extensive learning rooted in social and subjective transformations (in addition to their value for qualification per se) that may have benefits extending well beyond upper secondary school years. Furthermore, they may also have prolonged benefits for wider society through the enhanced understanding of others and other perspectives. Thus, they appear to have high educational value beyond recreational pleasure. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2014. , 166 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 54
Keyword [en]
Sojourns, international, Intercultural, experience, Learning, Sweden, Chile, Upper Secondary
National Category
Humanities Educational Sciences
Research subject
educational work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-93026ISBN: 978-91-7601-102-7OAI: diva2:745667
Public defence
2014-10-03, Humanisthuset, hörsal G, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2014-09-12 Created: 2014-09-10 Last updated: 2015-04-20Bibliographically approved

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Perez-Karlsson, Åsa
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