Building Bridges Across the International Divide: Fostering Meaningful Cross-Cultural Interactions Between Domestic and International Students
Keywords:conversation partner program, cross-cultural interactions, international students, international friendships, narrative
In this article, we consider the ways in which both formal and informal social practices at colleges and universities can lead domestic and international students to engage in meaningful cross-cultural interactions. Employing a narrative-based approach, we reflect upon our own personal experiences as domestic students who developed close friendships with international students at two higher education institutions in the United States at the turn of the twenty-first century. In one case, an internationalfriendship grew from a formal, university-sponsored conversation partner program organized by the university’s international office, and, in the other case, a close friendship with an international student emerged through informal social interactions on a college campus. Taken together, these cases suggest that higher education settings have the potential to be spaces of meaningful cross-cultural interaction. However, this requires an active commitment on the part of both domestic and international students to engage in social interactions across the international divide.
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