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Wake Forest to help faculty who teach abroad increase intercultural competency among students

February 2, 2009

Wake Forest University’s Center for International Studies will hold its inaugural Workshop on Intercultural Skills Enhancement (WISE) for faculty who teach students abroad on Feb. 27-28 at Graylyn International Conference Center. 

The workshop is titled “Navigating Study Abroad: Preparing Students Beyond the Classroom.”  Designed to address some of the key intercultural issues both faculty and students face while studying abroad, the workshop will show faculty how to more seamlessly integrate intercultural competency into their programs.

According to Steven Duke, director of International Studies at Wake Forest, the workshop is the first of its kind in the nation and will feature nine experts in international study who will address skills necessary to help better prepare students for successful study abroad experiences.  Interest in the workshop was so strong that it filled before registration deadline.  More than 55 faculty from schools in Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are registered. 

“We are excited about the response to this workshop.  For years, our colleagues here and at other universities nationwide have noticed that faculty who teach students abroad often share a common experience—their students are unprepared for cultural interactions in overseas study,” said Duke. 

Most colleges and universities require students to take preparation courses prior to studying abroad, which often cover pre-trip and mid-trip planning, logistics, academics and cultural issues.  But according to Duke, most students do well with the basic logistical and academic requirements, but tend to be overconfident in their cultural preparation, including their understanding of local cultures and cultural differences. 

The workshop will feature 10 sessions on topics including:

  • “Surviving & Thriving: From Culture Shock to Intercultural Competence”—an in-depth look at culture shock, cultural adjustment and intercultural competence.
  • “Cultural Identity Issues at Home & Abroad”—a panel featuring four Wake Forest students who will share personal stories and reflections on their challenges and experiences studying in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
  • “They’re in My Space! Managing Cultural Expectations & Obligations”—a session about some of the culturally-loaded expectations students face when living with families overseas or extensively interacting with a host culture.
  • “Shock Treatment”—a session about the impact of culture shock on faculty and how they can prepare for it.

The workshop speakers will include Duke, as well as:

  • Darla Deardorff, executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators at Duke University
  • Penelope Pynes, interim associate provost at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Bill Roberts, professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland

And five other faculty members from Wake Forest:

  • Jane Albrecht, associate professor of Romance languages
  • Terry Baker, associate professor of accountancy
  • Steven Folmar, assistant professor of anthropology
  • Mike Lord, director of the Flow Institute for International Studies
  • Gary Miller, associate professor of nutrition, health and exercise science

For complete conference details, visit


Note to Editors:  Advance interviews may be arranged with organizers or conference speakers.  Media are welcome to cover portions of the conference.  To arrange interviews or coverage, contact the News Service at (336) 758-5237.

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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