Overseas student teaching and national identity: Why go somewhere you feel completely comfortable?
Keywords:Global Studies, International Student Teaching, National Identity
This article presents the findings of a study of emerging perceptions of national identity held by preservice teachers who completed their student teaching overseas. To help them become better global citizens and teachers in this constantly changing and increasingly diverse world, each in a unique international setting, and based on Crèvecoeur’s question, “What is an American?” reflected on what it means to be American in a foreign country and what it is that characterizes national identity in their host country. Several significant thematic findings related to the participants’ perception of national identity that emerged included observations about lifestyle, economic inequality, diversity, politics, religion, patriotism and perspectives on national identity. The most significant conclusion that can be drawn from the findings is that these student teachers were immersed in the experience to such an extent that they were unable to reflect back upon their American national identity. Clearly, the intensity of context in which they found themselves, did not allow them to identify the characteristics of American through their own eyes. When describing American identity, they did so largely from the generally negative perspective of the people they encountered in their host country.