A Global Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Project to Develop Cultural Humility in Educators of Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities


  • Amy J. Rose Western Carolina University
  • Karena Cooper-Duffy Western Carolina University
  • Bontle Pauline Molefe Botswana Society for the Deaf




global interdisciplinary service-learning, cultural humility, special education, speech-language pathology


A four-week global interdisciplinary service-learning project to Botswana, Africa was developed to increase cultural humility and cross cultural communication skills in 12 current and future educators of children with autism and developmental disabilities. Participants worked alongside peer educators in eight different special education units across different regions of Botswana to create curricular activities that can be used in classrooms in both countries. Instruction in Botswana education, culture, language, history, and traditions was provided along with immersion in daily Botswana life. The present study examines the impact of these experiences on participant growth of cultural humility and cross-cultural communication skills. Results indicated increases in cultural humility for all participants, with the greatest increases for the stages of integration and intercultural communication. Individual growth varied based on factors such as previous experiences, chronological age, and flexibility. In this paper, we discuss details of the project, results, limitations, and implications for practice.

Abstract in Setswana

Lenaneo la beke tse nne go ya Botswana, le le akaretsang mafatshefatshe, ebile ele la dikitso tse di farologanyeng, le ne la bopiwa go oketsa kitso ka ngwao ya Setswana le ka ha go buisanwang ka teng mo ngwaong. Kitso tse tsa ngwao, di ne di itebagantse le barutabana bale lesome le bobedi. Barutabana ba, ene ele ba jaanong le ba isago, ba ruta bana ba ba nang le autism le bogole jo bo farologaneng. Batsaya karolo ba ne ba bereka le barutabana mo makalaneng a a farologanyeng a le boroba bobedi ko Botswana, a a lebaganeng le dithuto tsa autism le bana ba ba nang le bogole. Ba dira jaana go bopa ditsamaiso tsa thuto tse di ka dirisiwang mo dikolong tsa mafatshe oo mabedi. Batsaya karolo ba ne ba tlhatlhelelwa ka tsamaiso ya thuto, ngwao, puo, ditso le tumelo mo Botswana, le gore di amana jang le matshelo a Batswana a tsatsi le letsatsi. Dipatlisiso tse di leka go kala maduo a phetogo maikutlo a batsaakarolo mo go godiseng kitso ka ngwao le dipuisano ka yone mo Botswana. Maduo a dipatlisiso a supile fa barutabana ba nnile le kgolo mo go tlhaloganyeng ngwao, go gola mo go tona e nnile go tlhaloganya dingwao tsa mafatshe ka bobedi. Se se raya gore lenaneo le, le nnile botlhokwa thata mo go bone. Go gola ga barutabana ka bongwe ka bongwe go ne go ikaegile thata ka maitemogelo a bone pele ga ba ya Botswana, dingwaga tsa bone le ka ha ba amogelang diemo tse di farologanyeng ka teng. Mo mokwalong o, re ala ka botlalo ka ha lenaneo le tsamaileng ka teng, maduo le ditlhaelo/dikgwetlho le ka fa lenaneo le ka dirisiwang ka teng go ya pele.


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Author Biographies

Amy J. Rose, Western Carolina University

Dr. Amy J. Rose is an Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Carolina University. She has over 30 years of clinical experience serving children and adults with communication disorders. Her teaching and research interests include social skills and friendship development in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities. Additional interests include implementation of competency-based educational strategies; development of interprofessional collaboration in higher education; and international service learning, most recently in Botswana.

Karena Cooper-Duffy, Western Carolina University

Dr. Karena Cooper-Duffy is a Full Professor and coordinator of the graduate special education program at Western Carolina University. She has been teaching at the university for 20 years and specializes in teaching students with significant intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, autism, and team building with families who have children with disabilities. Her research is practitioner friendly and includes strategies on how to implement current research-based strategies to instruct students with severe intellectual disabilities.

Bontle Pauline Molefe, Botswana Society for the Deaf

Bontle Pauline Molefe is the Former Director of Special Support Services Department, Ministry of Basic Education in Botswana; Chairperson of Botswana Society for the Deaf; and member of Southern African Association for Learning and Educational Differences (SAALED). She has also worked as curriculum developer and also with teachers of both primary and secondary schools.


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How to Cite

Rose, A. J., Cooper-Duffy, K., & Molefe, B. P. (2023). A Global Interdisciplinary Service-Learning Project to Develop Cultural Humility in Educators of Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 35(1), 82–114. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v35i1.720



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