Bridging the Cultural and Linguistic Divide Through Virtual Exchange

Diane Ceo-DiFrancesco PhD et al.

full article in Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal


Abstract: The AUSJAL/AJCU Virtual Exchange Program maximizes the strengths of the Jesuit educational mission and its network to establish sustainable partnerships across borders, language and cultural divides. Initiated in 2006 as a grass roots project between two language instructors, the collaboration has grown to involve 22 universities, 29,561 students and 200 instructors in an innovative, high impact practice that leverages technologies to foster global engagement through virtual interaction. This study documents the perspectives of U.S. and Latin American students participating in virtual exchange experiences at five Jesuit universities. Specifically, research methodology included qualitative data collection to examine the impact of a strategically designed virtual exchange learning experience. Results of analysis of students’ written reflections indicate tendencies in the development of the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary for intercultural competence, and the role of virtual exchange in the development of empathy and compassion through encounter and dialogue that can lead to growth in global awareness and solidarity for and with others.

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