Infusing Intercultural Learning into Teacher Preparation

It was wonderful to return to my native Colombia last October to meet so many globally minded teachers and administrators at the conference. Leading global engagement for the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Missouri for over ten years, I have seen our field become more globally minded and intentional in expanding opportunities for intercultural learning for pre-service and in service teachers. As proposed by the Council of Europe’s Youth Partnership in their T-Kit 4: Intercultural Learning, 

in intercultural learning processes, it is important to give enough space for people to explore their identities, to create opportunities for self-analysis and self-understanding, both individually and in relation to others. 

    In our college, high impact practices to promote intercultural learning take various forms at home and abroad. Locally, our pre-service teachers engage with refugee, immigrant and asylum-seeking students and families at schools and community agencies. In collaboration with the University of Illinois, some students are participating in a IGlobal, a virtual opportunity to engage middle schoolers from around the globe in solution based lessons tied to the SDGs.   Since 2011, our Teach Abroad programs have paired MU students with local collaborating teachers in Greece, India, Rwanda, South Korea, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Each program has been purposefully curated to have students and their faculty leaders prepare for and fully participate in the socio-cultural context of the receiving schools and communities. While abroad, local (host) educators lead the educational immersive practice for our students while the MU accompanying faculty and in-country facilitating teams lead the students’ self and group reflections, encouraging self-analysis and self-understanding. Engaging in these reflective experiences while away from one’s home culture requires a degree of detachment and acceptance of the unfamiliar that opens doors for intercultural understanding in ways that merely reading or listening to accounts of the lived experiences of other humans never would.   Whether the educators we are preparing will practice in the U.S. or abroad, it is paramount that they be prepared to genuinely engage with and learn from peers, students, and families from diverse cultural backgrounds. We look forward to further contributing to the development of globally minded educators who can enhance learning for students from diverse backgrounds in the U.S. and abroad.  To this end, I welcome opportunities to learn from those of you already in the field of international education in the Tri-Association region.

Council of Europe’s Youth Partnership (2018) T-Kit 4: Intercultural Learning, retrieved Dec. 18, 2023, from: