Feeling Our Way: Emotions and the Politics of Global Citizenship in Study Abroad Programming
Keywords:Study abroad, short-term, Guatemala, Canadian university, Privilege, Education abroad, Emotion, Global citizenship, Solidarity, Higher Education
The terms ‘solidarity’ and ‘ethical travel’ were used to frame a one-week study abroad program to Guatemala. The students involved came from a Canadian university and were primed through pre-trip meetings and program materials to expect their trip to produce good feelings of connection and support. However, many of the students experienced bad feelings that were variously described as frustration, disappointment, shame, and guilt. In this paper, we take the ‘bad feelings’ of this trip seriously to understand the relationship between this study abroad program and the (re)production of privilege. Based on interviews with student participants, we identify a trio of emotional responses –shame/guilt, frustration/anger, and critical empathy– that highlight the variability of student responses and their political implications. We argue that this critical analysis of emotional politics is an underutilized tool for examining how study abroad programs can simultaneously (re)produce and challenge privilege.
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