International Immersion in Belize: Fostering Counseling Students’ Cultural Self-Awareness

  • Shirlene Smith-AugustineEmail author
  • Angel Dowden
  • Angel Wiggins
  • LaCheata Hall


International cultural immersion provides an in vivo, authentic, cross-cultural experience that can enhance multicultural awareness, knowledge and skills. This article examines the impact of an international immersion on graduate counseling students’ cultural self-awareness using a qualitative approach. Five graduate counseling students participated in a 3-week study abroad in Belize where they interacted with persons from diverse cultural backgrounds and settings. Four major cultural self-awareness themes emerged from the analysis of participants’ journals, (a) discrimination and prejudice, (b) cultural pride and appreciation, (c) cultural sensitivity, and (d) self-awareness. The findings are presented along with implications for future research and the use of international immersion as a viable experiential teaching strategy to enhance counseling students’ cultural self-awareness.


International cultural immersion Cultural self-awareness International community service learning Pre-service counseling students 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shirlene Smith-Augustine
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angel Dowden
    • 1
  • Angel Wiggins
    • 1
  • LaCheata Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Services, School of EducationNorth Carolina Agricultural and Technical State UniversityGreensboroUSA

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