By Lael Shields, Contributing Writer
One of Asbury’s unique graduation requirements asks studetns to fullfill some sort of expereince that is considered “cross-cultural.” There are certain rules to decide what trips can count for the cross cultural requirement. According to Dr. Kathryn Hendershot, director of cross-cultural experience, the rules include the trip being at a location usually outside of the United States and Canada, exposing students to various levels of ethnic diversity and lasting a minimum of six consecutive nights. Students must fill out paperwork before and after the experience as well.
The cross cultural experience web page claims that the purpose of the cross cultural experience is to strengthen students’ ability to interact, increase cultural sensitivity, see how they fit in God’s plan of redemption and develop a competency to serve Christ in a global society.
The problem most Asburians have with this graduation requirement is not the money or inconvenience. Instead, graduate Mason Willoughby claims the problem is in the nuances of the rules. “I looked forward to my cross-cultural,” he said. “I believe it is a great way to make Asburians more rounded individuals. My problem comes when inconsistencies happen. The committee is human, and sometimes it is hard to choose what trips count and what do not.”
Inconsistency is not a new problem for cross-cultural leadership. When students go outside of the school, it is difficult to determine what is “total culture immersion” and what is not. Sophomore Shannon Kenny said, “Sometimes students think that a cruise or tours that stop in foreign areas should count for their experience. That is not cross cultural. I mean, you are still with Americans the majority of the time.”
Sophomore Philip Workman disagrees. “I have traveled quite a bit,” he said. “I think that cultures are different everywhere in the United States. A culture shock can happen even on a cruise ship. As long as students get out of the state, the board may want to consider being more lenient.”
There are many strong opinions for what should and should not count for the graduation requirement. Regardless, it all comes down to Hendershot and her experienced team. They must decide what fits with Asbury’s standards and what does not. Some may disagree with their work, but in the end, all still have to meet the given requirements. Hendershot has brochures that clearly outline what the board believes the cross-cultural experience should entail. “If you have any questions, any at all, the requirements we use are on our website too,” she said. “We really try to be rigid with them.”
This can be seen in their enforcement of the pre-trip paperwork. It is expected to be turned in before the actual trip. The woman’s soccer team took a trip to New York last summer and found themselves with no cross-cultural experience under their belts when they returned because their coach had simply forgotten the required pre-trip paperwork.