ON DEMAND: Exploring Globalization at Mason: Discussions among Anthropology and INTO Mason Students
For this assignment, students enrolled in ANTH 332 (Cross-Cultural Perspectives of Globalization) in Fall 2019 and ANTH 114 (Introduction to Cultural Anthropology) in Summer 2020 engaged in meaningful conversations with INTO Mason students by leading part of a meeting of an INTO class in small groups. The INTO classes included were AE 073-001 (Dialogue with Americans) in Fall 2019 and AE 010-001 (Level 1 Core Class) in Summer 2020. The students in AE 073-001 are advanced-level Academic English students, while the students in AE 010-001 are beginning-level Academic English students.
Mason has an extremely diverse student body with many international students enrolled in its undergraduate programs, as well as in these two courses. What this assignment enabled the students in ANTH 114 and ANTH 332 to do was to take the concepts and approaches from anthropology that they learned in these courses and apply them in order to create a lesson plan for the session, which included preparing an ice breaker and short introductory presentation in addition to selecting a reading, video, or podcast that all students would review in advance, and to facilitate the discussion and activities about a particular topic with INTO Mason students during their class time. INTO Mason students study Academic English to prepare them to matriculate to graduate or undergraduate programs at George Mason University. Although INTO Mason students are engaged in intensive English Language study in the classroom, they offer have little opportunity to engage in substantive conversation with native English language speakers, particularly with domestic Mason students who will become their classmates once they matriculate. Such conversations assist in enhancing their English language skills and American culture knowledge, thus making them better prepared to become successful Mason students once they matriculated.
Having these two student populations in the same room—either in person or virtually—helped them all develop a better understanding of cross-cultural similarities and differences and provided all students a space to begin important dialogues that crossed international borders. Upon completion, students in the ANTH courses wrote a reflection about the experience and what they learned from it in relation to the course. One student commented on the course evaluation for Summer 2020: “I liked all the assignments and the presentation that we had to do because it helped me to understand the concepts. The presentation was a different experience than I had before, because we had to present in front of students who I didn't know at all.” These interactions allowed INTO Mason students deeper engagement with Mason students, which enabled them to further develop their English language skills and offered a more enriched experience of being on an American college campus. We will include this assignment from ANTH 332 (in-person) and ANTH 114 (virtual) as well as what was created for INTO Mason students.
This type of assignment has benefits for students who are learning the English language. Moreover, we often talk or hear about the global or globalization in an abstract sense. Frequently, regions are juxtaposed: West and East, Global North and Global South. However, in reality, these binaries may not exist, or at the very least, are extremely porous due to the rapid global flows of people, ideas, materials, and practices. The basis of this assignment can help instructors make the global or globalization more concrete for their classes by bringing students from around the world, or who have familial connections to multiple regions and countries, together in one room to talk about a topic that impacts people on a global scale. We also find that it helps students locate themselves and our university within the global network, question the cultural constructions and power relations that shape their everyday lives and experiences, and discover transnational connections that they did not recognize previously.
Copyright (c) 2021 Cortney Hughes Rinker
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