This page provides examples of innovative curricular resources used by your peers at Calvin as well as other colleges and universities. Our hope is that as you review the work of others, you will be able to adapt and or create similar resources to support the educational goals for your off-campus study experience.
Understanding Culture Shock - handout for students
Understanding Culture Shock - handout for students with sample answers
On the Trail of the Whiskey Robber - This is an assignment used in Budapest, Hungary which integrates Julian Rubenstein's book Ballad of the Whiskey Robber into a scavenger hunt exploring the city while discussing a number of important themes in the book. (Thanks to Jeff Bouman).
Culture Questions - This is a list of basic questions about your host country and culture which you can use as a guide as you seek information.
Ghana Cultural Challenges - This is an assignment to get students out into the community and exploring on their own. The Off-Campus Programs Office adapted a similar set of challenges for Grand Rapids when students return. What might challenges look like for your experience? (Thanks to Beryl Hugen)
Devotions - A series of devotions (one for each week of a 14-week semester) that helps students and faculty reflect on a number of themes and challenges from an off-campus experience. (Thanks to Cynthia Slagter and Mary Hulst for sharing).
Community Cohorts - Susan Felch shares this method of providing safe accountability groups for students in the Britain Semester program.
My Place in York - Want to develop a stronger sense of place in students for the city where they are studying? Work to adapt this awesome activity for your city or town. The assignment could be a part of your culture course or work to integrate it into the disciplinary course you will be teaching. As the open paragraph of this assignment states: "One goal of our semester is to learn about Britain--its history, culture, and people. We will use conversations with others, landscapes, cities, castles, country houses, churches, and theatres as primary texts, along with written documents. We’ll take regular excursions around Britain and learn from expert guides and local historians. We’ll reflect on these questions: how can we better understand historical and cultural change? What are the benefits of thinking about current social and cultural issues through the lens of earlier encounters with similar problems? How might we develop wise, nuanced responses to those things that may seem strange and off-putting in another culture? What do we learn about ourselves as we become immersed in other historical periods and encounter people from different cultures?" While travel and explorations of other places will be important in our learning process, but we must also learn to stay put, learning to care deeply about a specific place right here in our adopted community. The “My Place in York” assignments each week will help you to stay put. (Thanks to Susan Felch for this beautifully thought out assignment).
Seeing worship with new eyes: This Worship Handbook prepared by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship uses a series of questions to consider when you visit a new church. These questions are structured to help students become aware of the multiple levels of meaning in a worship service and to stimulate reflection on the relationship between theology, culture, and worship practices. As you visit a church, you are both a worshiper (participant) and an amateur cultural anthropologist (observer)! The goal is to have each role contribute to the other (Thanks to the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship for sharing this resource).