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Postcards From Abroad

Tool Objectives: 
  1. To gather texts and images related to the underlying values, assumptions and beliefs of your host culture.
  2. To create cultural representations that target specific intercultural differences you are encountering during your international experience.
  3. To analyze your creative process in terms of how you perceive and engage in the world. 
Tool Description: 

Buying a postcard can sometimes be really difficult. For many students, it is hard to find a postcard that ideally captures what an experience is all about for them. So, this assignment will give students an opportunity to make their own postcards to better portray their experiences to others and discuss the intercultural differences they are encountering. In doing so, students become more knowledgeable of the host culture and its underlying values, assumptions and beliefs.  

Tool Procedures: 

  1.   Constructing Postcards. Prior to departure or shortly upon arrival, give each student five blank 4”x6” index cards with instructions to develop postcards that portray their experiences abroad. Students can affix their own photos, draw pictures, or somehow create an image on the card that best encapsulates their experiences. Allow students the option of supplementing one postcard with one that is locally purchased. 

2.   Message. On the reverse side of each card, ask students to write a brief message to a friend or family member. The message should describe why they chose the particular image and how it portrays their thoughts or feelings about the intercultural differences they have encountered at that point in the course. Remind them to think carefully about what message they want the reader to take away with them about this experience. Students should prepare and submit their postcards to the course professor at particular times while abroad.

3.   Reflection Paper. Upon return, have students write a 2-3 page reflection paper in which they reflect on creating their postcards. Students should comment on how this overall process has helped to shape their understanding of the host culture and its underlying values, assumptions and beliefs and how the experience has changed how they perceive and engage in the world.

4.   Open House. If time allows, consider hosting an end of course Open House, in which students present their postcards to each other and invited guests. This would allow students the opportunity to share their learning with others and thus, broaden the reach of the course. Consider uploading images of these postcards to a course-related website.

5.   Optional:  Consider having students write the postcard messages in the target language. 

Tool Evaluation: 

Evaluation happens in two parts: 1.) five postcards, and 2.) reflection paper. Together, the total assignment can count up to 20% of the overall course grade (10% for postcards and 10% for reflection paper). If possible, prepare a sample postcard with your own account of an international experience.

Tool Time Requirement: 

One class meeting for Open House (post-study abroad)

Tool Author(s): 

A. Ogden & M. Reinig, 2009

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]: 

Site copyright 2012, University of Kentucky, Education Abroad.
Toolkit Authors: Duarte Morais, Ph.D., Anthony C. Ogden, Ph.D., & Christine Buzinde, Ph.D.
More information about the toolkit authors.

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