The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Students advise Americans abroad

Talking with your hands in your pockets in Belgium is considered rude. Pointing your feet at someone in Tibet may start a fight.

Cultural insights like this are vital for students when studying abroad, and the World Citizens Guide provides this for those students. The guide is a manual presently made by SMU students to inform other students on how to be mentally prepared for cultural practices and customs while studying abroad.

The idea for this manual was sparked by a global listening endeavor, headed by DDB Worldwide – an advertising agency – Chairman Keith Reinhard, to ask foreign countries how they would advise Americans to be better global citizens. With the responses The Business for Diplomatic Acton, an organization formed to reduce anti-American sentiment abroad, asked Southern Methodist University’s Temerlin Advertising Director, Dr. Particia Alvey, to compose a booklet for students studying abroad. She recruited five of her best advertising students for the job; Lisa B. Cole, Ben Lipsett, Meredith Mathews, Meredith McKee, and Katie Springfield.

While the students were researching presently offered study abroad information they noticed it only offered logistics of travel like hotels, currency exchanges, tourist attractions, etc. They wanted to make a booklet focusing on how to make students abroad experience better.

They surveyed students across the country to get input, which developed the approach of the guide. From the input they realized students needed a guide angled towards preparing them for societal difference, which intern would make their experience more enriching.

The guide is designed as a utility for the long term, something students can look back at numerous times during their abroad journeys for information and insight.

The guide begins with a brief explanation of the purpose of the guide.

This is not a travel guide. It’s not about where to eat, shop or find the best new clubs in town. That’s another book. This World Citizens Guide was put together for you by students like yourself…to find out more about the specific cultures you’re about to immerse yourself in so that you can have a better adventure.

The guide is divided into different chapters delving into different cultural aspects of abroad studies. It emphasizes how students are no longer in America so American customs no longer apply, and they should open themselves to the rituals of their environment.

In South Korea… if you order a beer or glass of, then your dinner partner may feel as though they must order the same and you could double your bill.

It encourages students to familiarize themselves with the countries laws and not restrict themselves to American points of view.

Do yourself a favor and bypass the American newspaper. Sure, there are some great publications…but you have left the States to experience another culture and gain some sort of knowledge of the outside world.

It provides information on handling conversations about religious beliefs and on being sensitive to the financial situations of foreign people and foreign communities. It also offers a crash course on world languages, containing an index of the 50 most valuable words in some of the most popular spoken languages.

Nin hao, hola, namaste, ahlen, ola, nomaskaar, zdravstvuite, konnichi wa, guten tag, They all mean one thing: hello.

With all its valuable information the guide is definitely a necessity for Americans going abroad, since the United States is not thought very highly of around the world. According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which globally surveyed 16,000 people around the world, the image of America has gone down significantly. It has gotten so bad that the Forum on Education Abroad, an association of over 200 universities and colleges, is demanding schools take up new standards for students in their study abroad programs, as stated by The New York Times.

“From a public relations stand point, the Citizens Guide is just one tool that may help students studying abroad consider their actions as a reflection on America,” said SMU CCPA Professor and Director of SMU in London Nina Flournoy, “never before has this been more important considering how much anti-American sentiment Americans experience in Europe.”

Rienhard believes “American college students are a ready-made diplomatic corps to help change perceptions overseas. This generation also has more at stake in a world where respect is eroding for the values of our nation.”

Presently the guide cannot be distributed on an individual basis, but the demand is high so it will be released soon.

“SMU has been given the opportunity to offer good works to the world,” said Alvey. “I believe this has been one of those perfect opportunities where exactly the right thing to do and the right learning experience has come along for our students.

More to Discover