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What about returning JYA students? Dominique Thiebaut Geneva JYA Director, Dept. Computer Science Smith College
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 The problem… (Black board animation…)
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 Driving back home from the airport, I glanced over at my daughter. I was so happy to see her. Somehow she seemed a little disoriented, though I knew she must be excited to be back, after spending four months in France on an SIT program. “Exhaustion and jet lag,” I thought to myself…
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 After a few days, the situation at home was becoming difficult. She wanted wine with every meal. She requested cloth napkins. She wanted to listen only to French music and look through her photographs. She kept describing the wonderful places she had been and the food they had eaten. She complained about the quality of our cheese. She didn’t want to call her old friends. She didn’t really seem to be happy to be home. Frankly, I was a little concerned and frustrated, as well. How long was it going to take her to readjust to normal life? Leonore Cavallero Surviving Re-entry
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 Signs of reverse culture-shock Overly excited Desire to tell everyone about her experience Depressed Feeling bored Being extremely critical Negative feelings toward American culture …
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 Signs of reverse reentry (cont’d) Feeling sad Feeling anxious Needing excessive sleep Feelings of alienation and/or withdrawal Disappointment with family and friends
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 “the hardest part of re-entry was people seemingly not caring how my life had been transformed”
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 Why would one feel that way? Had to adopt new behavior, learn new customs Had to fit in a new culture Ate different food Saw United States from the outside Interacted with people who had a more accute, or different sense of politics Has to face consumerism in US Friends missed the experience Friendships have evolved, here and abroad Was “special” in foreign country
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 “I definitely felt I had become Ecuadorian, and had no way to express that new part of myself”
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 “Re-entry is an emotional roller coaster that no one in the home community is likely to fully understand”
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 What can YOU do? Support Understand Encourage
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 What can you do, specifically? Make student aware of feelings as normal Listen Be patient; it takes time Be aware of what not to say Gentle coaching Suggest activities, channel the energy
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 “The turning point for me was when my best friend warned me that I was becoming a Euro-snob!”
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 Suggested activities Meet/seek people from country of JYA Make a photo album Seek people who have traveled abroad (ISO, CDO, faculty, language department, Admissions office) Keep practicing foreign language(s) Look at ways to go back (fellowships, work visas, grad schools) Get active with int’l organizations and/or offices Do volunteer work Offer to cook meals with food of country visited (Participate in ISO Day!) Find newspapers, radios or TV news from the foreign country (Web!)
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 Resourceson/off campus Int’l study abroad office CDO Counseling center SIT Political organizations on campus Language departments New England Study Abroad Reentry Conference Nov. 3, ’07, Northeastern U. Boston
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 “In total, return culture shock lasted about a year”
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 “It is not easy to go away, so it makes sense that it should not be easy to come back.”
© D. Thiebaut, 2007 References and credits Leonore Cavallero, “Surviving Re-entry”, SIT Study Abroad, 2002, Theresa Leary, former Associate Director of Admission at Smith College Alison Noyes, Associate Dean of Int’l Study at Smith College Fred Vanderbeck, former Finance Officer of Int’l Office at Umass Regine John, Education Abroad Office, Umass
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