Bluffton University students are required to take six semester hours of a foreign language or go on a cross-cultural experience. Cross-culturals offer students different cultural experiences, either domestically or abroad. Kayla Nelson, a senior English and writing double major, and Aaron Johnson, a junior music education and history double major, recently went on their cross-culturals and reflected on their experiences in Botswana and Great Britain respectively.
Which cross-culturals did you consider? Why?
Nelson: I wanted to go on the trip to Japan, but the program was canceled so I wasn’t able to go. My
second choice was the Great Britain trip, which the Camerata Singers were going on, but I didn’t get placed in. My third choice was Botswana because I liked the idea of living in a village and being part of the community, not just visitors.
Johnson: I was fairly set on going to Great Britain with Camerata, which I’m a part of. I liked the focus the Great Britain trip had on the religious communities of Britain, though I also thought about going to Israel/Palestine or Iceland.
What sort of things did you do to prepare for the trip?
Nelson: There were classes and meetings we had to attend with other students. We were required to read a book on Botswana to get us into the culture and we learned a little bit of the language before we got there.
Johnson: I’d been to Great Britain before going on this trip, though the locations we visited were different from the places I had already been with the exception of London. To prepare, we took classes and practiced singing. We also had to research a city and a topic that was an issue in that city, like the conflicting views of the Catholic Church and the Church of England.
Describe your experience.
Nelson: It was amazing. The people were wonderful and I learned a lot about myself and the community. The families were really accepting of us and we became part of their family while we were there. Some of the families fought over who got to host us, which they saw as a great honor. My host mother referred to me as her daughter.
Johnson: It was very cool. We did a lot of traveling. At one point we spent six hours on a bus going from Scotland to England, though that was the longest trip we had to take during the whole experience. It was a lot busier in Britain than it is here.
Was there a particularly memorable experience from your trip?
Nelson: Teaching my host niece how to blow bubbles. We spent most of an afternoon doing that.
Johnson: Visiting the Durham Cathedral was pretty cool. We got to talk to different priests and discuss the division between Catholics and the Church of England. We learned a lot about the history of that and got to talk to the people of Britain and get their opinions on it.
Would you recommend this trip to other students?
Nelson: If you’re fine with living away from home for two weeks in a different culture from your own then yes, I highly recommend it.
Johnson: Yes. It was a very good informational based trip. I learned a lot about the community. It was a good way to experience another culture.
For more information on cross-culturals students should contact Assistant Director of Cross-cultural Programs Elaine Suderman at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the cross-cultural section of Bluffton’s website.
— Compiled by Megan Good