Journaling Across Cultures

Journaling Across Cultures

Tool Objectives:

  1. To record meaningful experiences and reflections, and to see writing as a tool for cultural exploration and self-discovery.
  2. To integrate experiences and reflections into academic learning and personal growth.
  3. To understand that writing is not just a tool for displaying knowledge but also for acquiring knowledge.

Tool Description:

Requiring students to keep a journal is a widely used teaching strategy because it helps students record their learning experiences, documents learning and growth, and helps students cope with intercultural adjustment. The journal is structured to encourage students to record thoughts and events experienced in the course, and also to reflect on them in the context of global citizenship and academic development.

Tool Procedures:

  1. The assignment should be described in the course syllabus and should contribute to the course grade. Students should be given the assignment description preferably a few weeks before the international travel component.  Explain the required structure for the journal (three sections), the evaluation frequency and criteria, and the top ten tips for effective journaling.
  2. The frequency for grading the journals will depend on the course length and structure of the in-country itinerary.  Determine dates periodically throughout the semester when the journals will be due.
  3. When grading journals, give an evaluative grade as well as written feedback. At the end of the course, students should turn in their journals for a final evaluation.
  4. Facilitate students’ involvement with journaling by allocating time in the day for the task and by pointing out events, experiences and comments/questions that students may later want to record in their journals.
  5. An excellent resource for supplemental reading on analytical writing in study abroad is Wagner and Magistrale’s, Writing Across Culture: An Introduction to Study Abroad and the Writing Process (1995).
  6. Optional:  When technology is available, consider allowing students to keep an electronic journal. (Also see Tool 6, Blog Abroad.)

Tool Evaluation:

Journals should be reviewed and graded at least once before the international travel component and then periodically during the time abroad. When appropriate, students should be requested to make post-trip journal entries. At each reading, assign an evaluative grade to each section as well as providing written feedback. When the journal is submitted for final evaluation, calculate a quantitative grade considering that evaluative grade.

Tool Time Requirement:

Approximately 20-30 minutes required for explanation of assignment (pre-departure)

Tool Author(s):

Adapted by D. Morais & A. Ogden, 2009 from Paige, R., et al. (2006). Maximizing Study Abroad (2nd Edition). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]:
Journaling Across Cultures Handout

Mark Beirn


An experienced global researcher and administrator, Mark Beirn brings a critical approach to risk management, factoring structural racism and identity-based violence into his rubric for supporting equitable global mobility.

Specialization Areas:

– Global Risk Management
– Education Abroad
– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in International Education
– Health and Safety
– Curriculum Development


Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

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Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.