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Internationalizing the Curriculum: Study Abroad as a Tool for Redefining and Reconstructing National Identity in a Global Context
Unformatted Document Text:  France & Rogers 17 admitted, “I thought we were going to be roughing it a lot more than we really were.” Brian also remembered thinking that because they were going to a “third world country there would be beggar children on the street. If we didn’t bring it in, we wouldn’t have it.” Notably, ideas of the “first world” had been equated with unlimited access to consumer goods informed their perception of what would be available to them in Cuba. Because they were traveling to a “developing country,” they assumed that there would be less available, when, in reality, there were a variety of products available for purchase. Cuban Perceptions of American Identity As students negotiated their American identity in Cuba, what became evident was how Cubans’ perceptions and images of America forced students to examine American society. The students expressed that Cubans had a false sense of what it meant to be American. According to Lisa, “They see the U.S. as a land of opportunity; you can get higher and higher if you want… but in the U.S. if you’re not one of those people who’s going to the top…or you’re doing something different…you’re not going to have the same [state-subsidized] support as in Cuba.” Sue Ann thought it would be interesting for a Cuban to see someone living within the U.S. who wasn’t able to get a job or who couldn’t find housing; “they don’t seem to understand all the problems that are created by our class system.” She shared an experience in which a British teenager backpacking in Cuba asked her to explain to a Cuban the income gap within the United States. She didn’t have an answer. Since she’s returned, she has been thinking more about class and employed some of the critiques of the U.S. system through a socialist lens. She admires how the Cuban government provides its people with a livable amount of food, housing, and jobs, and even thinks that “a certain amount of controlled socialism would be good in the U.S.” She has CIRCULATION OF THIS PAPER IS NOT PERMITTED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE AUTHORS.

Authors: France, Hollis. and Rogers, Kaylee.
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France & Rogers 17
admitted, “I thought we were going to be roughing it a lot more than we really were.” Brian also
remembered thinking that because they were going to a “third world country there would be
beggar children on the street. If we didn’t bring it in, we wouldn’t have it.” Notably, ideas of
the “first world” had been equated with unlimited access to consumer goods informed their
perception of what would be available to them in Cuba. Because they were traveling to a
“developing country,” they assumed that there would be less available, when, in reality, there
were a variety of products available for purchase.
Cuban Perceptions of American Identity
As students negotiated their American identity in Cuba, what became evident was how
Cubans’ perceptions and images of America forced students to examine American society. The
students expressed that Cubans had a false sense of what it meant to be American. According to
Lisa, “They see the U.S. as a land of opportunity; you can get higher and higher if you want…
but in the U.S. if you’re not one of those people who’s going to the top…or you’re doing
something different…you’re not going to have the same [state-subsidized] support as in Cuba.”
Sue Ann thought it would be interesting for a Cuban to see someone living within the U.S. who
wasn’t able to get a job or who couldn’t find housing; “they don’t seem to understand all the
problems that are created by our class system.” She shared an experience in which a British
teenager backpacking in Cuba asked her to explain to a Cuban the income gap within the United
States. She didn’t have an answer. Since she’s returned, she has been thinking more about class
and employed some of the critiques of the U.S. system through a socialist lens. She admires how
the Cuban government provides its people with a livable amount of food, housing, and jobs, and
even thinks that “a certain amount of controlled socialism would be good in the U.S.” She has
CIRCULATION OF THIS PAPER IS NOT PERMITTED WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE AUTHORS.


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