The Belize Project: A Host School Perspective
Keywords:teacher education, global competence, study abroad, qualitative study
While the research literature is replete with studies on student perspectives and their
development of cross-cultural sensitivity, research on the perspectives of educators who host international preservice teachers is woefully lacking. This study seeks to fill that gap by assessing the experiences of 15 educators at an elementary host school in Belize. It draws on their experiences with hosting the Belize Project, a week-long international field experience.
Our findings lead to two major conclusions. Culture and completing a field experience in a classroom in another country are two closely intertwined and difficult to disentangle experiences. It is a reciprocal process in which both participating partners, the teacher candidates and host school community, reap the benefits of both a cultural and educational exchange. Not only does it benefit the student teachers, it also contributes to the professional development of the host school community and its educators. Despite the short length of the project, the mentor teachers and administrators unanimously agreed that its benefits clearly outweigh its challenges.