Multi-Perspective, Culturally Responsive Students Within Experiential Education Paradigms: A Case Study of Select Programmes in Samoa
Thesis DisciplinePacific Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The following study was conducted over 21 months in the South Pacific. I served as Academic Coordinator for World Learning’s SIT’s Study Abroad program in Samoa for three semesters. While overseeing independent study projects, facilitating working relationships, and promoting cross-cultural communication among the American and Pacific Islander/Samoan tertiary students, I concluded that -- through cultural immersion, experiential education and deliberate, academically fostered communication and discussion both Western and Indigenous identities are capable of converging to better mutual and lasting understanding.
I spent ten months in Samoa completing my field research and five months in New Zealand completing my library research. Over the course of three academic semesters, this study evolved through my volunteer work with the group Rotaract Samoa, my research and teaching experiences with an experiential education programme, and indirectly incorporating 36 American students from various US tertiary institutions participating in the SIT Study Abroad’s Pacific Communities and Social Change semester in Samoa, and over 120 Pacific Island students and staff on the University of the South Pacific (USP) campus in Alafua, Samoa.
Encouraging American students to foster relationships with indigenous peoples offered insights into the process and progress of the students’ shared interactions. Students were uncomfortable and awkward in their initial associations, however, over time, through the program’s immersion techniques, the students learned valuable lessons, about Samoan culture and themselves as human beings. I found the use of experiential education programmes and convergence methodology in multicultural learning environments ultimately promoted multi-perspective, culturally responsive student development.
I collected my data through interviews, participant-observations, surveys, questionnaires, volunteering and teaching. I analysed my data using a self-reflexive anthropological perspective.