What is a "Cross-Cultural Experience"?
Requirement | The Cross-Cultural Experience | Plan Ahead | Benefits of Cross-Cultural Experience Navigate Sections
As a part of the Lee University general core requirements, students must fulfill a minimum of two Global Perspectives credit hours in order to graduate:
GNST-200: Global Perspectives Seminar (1 credit hour) – GNST-200 is the required 2-week seminar that serves as the prerequisite and pre-departure orientation for the actual cross-cultural experience.* It involves three in-person class sessions and additional online modules. This course is taken directly prior to participating in the Cross-Cultural Experience (GNST-250, 251, 252, or 253).
- If you compete your cross-cultural experience in the fall semester, you will take GNST-200 in September, as part of the fall term.
- If you compete your cross-cultural experience over Winter Break, you will take GNST-200 in November, as part of the fall term.
- If you compete your cross-cultural experience in the spring semester, including Spring Break, you will take GNST-200 in January, as part of the spring term.
- If you compete your cross-cultural experience over the summer, you will take GNST-200 in April, as part of the spring term.
- If you will be away for a full semester for your cross-cultural experience (UK Semester Abroad or other off-campus semester-abroad), then you will take GNST-200 in the semester preceding your trip.
*If you have completed LEEU-102, then you have already fulfilled this requirement.
GNST-250, 251, 252, or 253: Cross-Cultural Experience (1-3 credit hours) – This GNST course is the actual experience of interacting with another culture. This is not a class which meets throughout the semester or summer term but is the credit you receive for the actual cross-cultural experience, where you can earn 1-3 credit hours depending on the length and intensity of cultural interaction. See Cross Cultural Experience Options for information about the various ways to fulfill this requirement.
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The Cross-Cultural Experience
It is important to understand what qualifies as a cross-cultural experience. For your cross-cultural experience, we want you to go beyond a tourist-type experience. We want you to actively ask questions about family, politics, language, economics, religion, and daily life in another culture. We want you to learn how other people think about the world and how they think about you. We want you to listen to what they say, without injecting criticism. We want you to talk to people in this other culture, do things with them, and reflect on what you learn in order to decipher what it means and compare it with your own culture. For more extensive information defining the cross-cultural experience, please check out What Is a Cross-Cultural Experience, an excerpt from the GNST-200 Global Perspectives Seminar textbook, Go Global: An Anthropological Approach to Studying Abroad (Go Global 33).
Choosing a cross-cultural experience is about finding the right destination and program for you. Input from parents, friends, and professors may be helpful, but ultimately the best cross-cultural experience is the one that meets your needs and goals. Understanding what you want to get out of your cross-cultural experience takes time, research and reflection. For more information to assist in your decision, check out Cross-Cultural Experience Considerations.
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PLAN AHEAD! We encourage you to start planning as early as possible in order to determine the best option for your cross-cultural experience. If you plan well, you will be better prepared to handle any unexpected circumstances that might prevent you from completing the requirement in the timeframe expected. The Global Perspectives courses are part of every student’s requirements and must be successfully completed in order to graduate. Students must take the GNST-200 Global Perspectives Seminar course in the semester directly prior to participating in any type of cross-cultural experience. You must first decide what you want to do for your cross-cultural experience before you can be enrolled in the Global Perspectives Seminar.
Any student planning to complete an international cross-cultural experience should look into Obtaining a Passport as soon as possible so they are ready when the opportunity arises for the perfect trip.
Students who wish to participate in one of the Faculty-Directed Cross-Cultural Study trips must make a decision early in the fall semester of the academic year in which they plan to participate. For example, if you plan on going on a trip in the summer after your sophomore year, you must make your decision and pay your deposit during the fall of your sophomore year. A $1,000 deposit is required for students planning to participate in a Lee University Global Perspectives trip. This is necessary in order to make reservations and to obtain reasonably priced airline tickets. It also allows the Financial Aid Office to determine how much, if any, financial aid can be applied to the student’s personal trip cost.
Students who choose to participate in an Individual Cross-Cultural Study, must submit an application well before their trip in order to be approved by the Global Perspectives Committee. Individually arranged cross-cultural experiences must be approved in advance in order to receive credit. There are different deadlines throughout the year depending on when you plan to participate in your experience. No retroactive approval or credit will be given by the committee. Also, it is important to note that not all international experiences are considered to be cross-cultural; short-term missions travel does not always meet the requirement. Cultural differences are encountered through interactions and, therefore, cross-cultural experiences must involve significant one-on-one personal interaction with members of a targeted culture. It would be wise to get approval from the committee before financially committing to any type of trip for which you wish to receive cross-cultural experience credit.
Students who have had significant cross-cultural life experiences prior to coming to Lee may qualify for an Exemption to have the cross-cultural requirement waived. These students must still complete GNST-200. A student who qualifies for exemption may still participate in a trip through Global Perspectives if they want.
Students who believe they are eligible for exemption should submit a Petition for Exception early in their college experience so that if they do not qualify they will still have plenty of time to plan a cross-cultural experience for which they can receive credit. There are clear institutional guidelines in place for students who may be waived from the cross-cultural requirement. These guidelines have been approved by external accreditation agencies. Granting students academic course credit for experiences that do not fall within the stated parameters would be both illegal and unethical.
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Benefits of Cross-Cultural Experience
Studying abroad is often described by students as the most enriching, formative and exciting experience of their college careers.
You’ll have the opportunity to:
- Travel and explore other countries
- Learn about another culture first-hand to expand your world view
- Experience personal growth in response to living, adapting, and functioning in another culture
- Be challenged in your faith as you learn what it means to live it out in an unfamiliar setting
- Make friends from around the world
- Gain an international perspective and develop skills
- Become more conscious of yourself and cultural perspectives
- Break out of your academic routine – take a chance by challenging yourself
- Learn a language through immersion
Most students expect their education to equip them with the skills and experience necessary to give them a competitive edge professionally. Dr. Richard Jones, Professor of Anthropology, asserts that, “All other things being equal, people who are bilingual and/or who have some sort of experience in cross-cultural settings have the edge in today’s market in nearly every sector. Few large corporations can ignore the world markets for their products, and people who command knowledge of other languages and cultures have opportunities available to them that people without that knowledge do not have.”
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Jones, Richard and Dirksen, Murl. Go Global: An Anthropological Approach to Studying Abroad. Lee University, 2015.