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Higher Education | International and Comparative Education | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning


For students participating in study abroad programs in seemingly familiar environs, ongoing cultural mentoring is critically important. This study looks at intercultural development using both the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and qualitative analysis of reflective writing assignments. U.S. participants in a semester-long faculty-led program in Australia experienced significant intercultural growth as measured by the IDI. Four writing prompts were analyzed in terms of how well they correlated with student IDI Developmental Orientation (DO) scores. Written reflection reveals how students write about intercultural issues at different developmental stages. Some writing prompts were found to facilitate intercultural development, allowing students to ‘write beyond’ their DO scores. While sojourners effectively wrote about cross-cultural issues pertaining to the host environment, more ethnocentric thinking was revealed when asked to reflect on cultural conflicts in their home community. The findings illustrate that significant intercultural growth is achievable in a culturally and linguistically similar host country, and that carefully designed reflective writing prompts can both illustrate and facilitate meaningful intercultural growth.