Postcards From Abroad

Postcards From Abroad

Tool Objectives:

  1. To gather texts and images related to the underlying values, assumptions and beliefs of your host culture.
  2. To create cultural representations that target specific intercultural differences you are encountering during your international experience.
  3. To analyze your creative process in terms of how you perceive and engage in the world.

Tool Description:

Buying a postcard can sometimes be really difficult. For many students, it is hard to find a postcard that ideally captures what an experience is all about for them. So, this assignment will give students an opportunity to make their own postcards to better portray their experiences to others and discuss the intercultural differences they are encountering. In doing so, students become more knowledgeable of the host culture and its underlying values, assumptions and beliefs.

Tool Procedures:

  1.  Constructing Postcards. Prior to departure or shortly upon arrival, give each student five blank 4”x6” index cards with instructions to develop postcards that portray their experiences abroad. Students can affix their own photos, draw pictures, or somehow create an image on the card that best encapsulates their experiences. Allow students the option of supplementing one postcard with one that is locally purchased.
  2. Message. On the reverse side of each card, ask students to write a brief message to a friend or family member. The message should describe why they chose the particular image and how it portrays their thoughts or feelings about the intercultural differences they have encountered at that point in the course. Remind them to think carefully about what message they want the reader to take away with them about this experience. Students should prepare and submit their postcards to the course professor at particular times while abroad.
  3. Reflection Paper. Upon return, have students write a 2-3 page reflection paper in which they reflect on creating their postcards. Students should comment on how this overall process has helped to shape their understanding of the host culture and its underlying values, assumptions and beliefs and how the experience has changed how they perceive and engage in the world.
  4. Open House. If time allows, consider hosting an end of course Open House, in which students present their postcards to each other and invited guests. This would allow students the opportunity to share their learning with others and thus, broaden the reach of the course. Consider uploading images of these postcards to a course-related website.
  5. Optional:  Consider having students write the postcard messages in the target language.

Tool Evaluation:

Evaluation happens in two parts: 1.) five postcards, and 2.) reflection paper. Together, the total assignment can count up to 20% of the overall course grade (10% for postcards and 10% for reflection paper). If possible, prepare a sample postcard with your own account of an international experience.

Tool Time Requirement:

One class meeting for Open House (post-study abroad)

Tool Author(s):

A. Ogden & M. Reinig, 2009

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]:
Postcards from Abroad 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.