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Cross-Cultural Engagement

Rationale for CCE Core Requirement


CCE Learning Objectives:

--to gain skills in cross-cultural communication

--to understand how the world might look from the standpoint of another community of interpretation and experience

--to learn how to discern and, where appropriate, adapt to the cultural expectations of the other

--to witness other cultural embodiments of faith, and thus to reflect on the substance and definition of one's own faith by comparison

The experience of Calvin faculty and staff who have been involved in cross-cultural engagement courses suggests that 20 hours of interaction with people from another culture is the bare minimum needed to begin to understand that culture in any depth. Given the logistics of placement and the need to introduce students to the culture with which they are going to be engaged, it is estimated that students in a semester-long course would be able to spend
approximately 10 weeks in a particular setting. Considering the demanding nature of many students' schedules, two hours of direct experience a week for 10 weeks appears to be a reasonable minimal expectation. It is assumed that additional time will be spent in class
engaging in the knowledge and reflection components of the experience—components also necessary if the objectives are to be met.

In addition, the requirement that the engagement be in a culture "significantly different from one's own" requires justification. It is difficult to define what would be a "culture significantly different from the student's own culture" for students at Calvin College. Proposals for courses intended to meet the CCE requirement should outline the nature of culture differences that exist between the students in the class and the community of engagement. For all such courses, the dimensions of time, intensity, and cultural difference should be seen as related. That is, for experiences of short duration or limited intensity, the culture differences should be greater; for semester or year-long experiences, smaller differences may be able to accomplish the same purpose. For Caucasian, North American students, if the engagement is done in North America, it should be with a different racial or linguistic community (e.g., African American, Hispanic, or non-English speaking immigrant.) In cases where significant cultural difference is not apparent, the proposal should explain how there are sufficient differences to enable the goals of the course to be met, and how the course will use these differences to meet the goals for the CCE requirement.