Study Abroad Participants’ Reflections on Relationship Development: The Role of Context, Curriculum, and Community Engagement




Global South, international service-learning, relationships, study abroad, teaching


University students often share that studying abroad was a life-changing experience. We explored how one short-term, faculty-led study abroad, Tanzania Study Abroad Program (TSAP), contributed to the participants’ lives after their experience. Through a web-based survey, we collected responses from 82 former TSAP participants. We used corpus and thematic analysis to determine prominent themes of participants’ memories and perceptions of how TSAP impacted their lives. Respondents reflected on the people they interacted with throughout their study abroad experiences, both with those abroad and their peers. Furthermore, the program leaders’ intentional actions in the planning of the context, curriculum, and community engagement informed participants’ opportunities to develop relationships that were non-transactional in nature. Participants also reported that their cross-cultural relationships with Tanzanians positively influenced their subsequent interactions with people from diverse communities. Prioritizing relationships with host community members and peers on study abroad shows promise for supporting participants’ intercultural development.


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Author Biographies

Michael Lolkus, CPM Educational Program

Michael Lolkus earned his doctorate in Mathematics Education at Purdue University. Michael develops and explores the promise of culturally sustaining and social justice-focused mathematics curricula for an educational nonprofit organization. His research centers on social justice mathematics and site-based professional learning communities with Tanzanian teachers.

Laura Duke, Purdue University

Laura Duke is a secondary Social Studies Teacher in Central Indiana and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University. After traveling to Tanzania with Dr. Newton in 2018, Laura became interested in international education and service-learning when she was introduced to this research. She hopes to continue and expand her research as she pursues her graduate degree.

Jill Newton, Purdue University

Jill Newton is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Purdue University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate students and leads a study abroad program. Her research focuses on secondary mathematics teacher education and study abroad programs. She earned a B.S. and Ph.D. in Mathematics Education at Michigan State University and an M.A. in International Education at George Washington University. She taught mathematics in Bulgaria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, and Venezuela.


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How to Cite

Lolkus, M., Duke, L., & Newton, J. (2022). Study Abroad Participants’ Reflections on Relationship Development: The Role of Context, Curriculum, and Community Engagement. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 34(4), 53–90.



Research Articles