Dear readers,

I am happy to say that I have presented and discussed my thesis in June 2010.

The report is now available on-line at Linköping University Press:

It has been a wonderful adventure!

Os(c) kar


Safe landing! And Happy B-day, Australia!

Kia ora my fellow ocean travellers!

As we approach the landing site after sailing across the seven seas, I just want to say: It was a pleasant journey!

And as I ponder over the experience, I wonder whether we have all reached the Happy Isles. Hopefully, we won’t get there in a disarray, as it was the case with the epic First Fleet after its arrival on the fair land of OZ, an event remembered each year at the upcoming January 26 Australia Day celebrations.

When the First Fleet left Botany Bay to sail north in search of a better future (little they knew that Sydney Harbour was just around the bend), they paraded before French Captain La Perouse’s expedition. The following is an account of what happened, excerpted from a great book, The Fatal Shore, by Robert Hughes:

“The departing English now gave the French a spectacular show of fumbling.  Friendship rammed Prince of Wales, losing her jib boom. Charlotte nearly ran on the rocks, clawed off and cannoned into Friendship. Lady Penrhyn just avoided ramming her amidships.”

….the birth of a nation!!!

Wish you all a safe docking, and see you on land.

Ka kite ano!

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles……

Ulysses, by Alfred Tennyson

UR – Research proposal (1)

COURSE: Understanding Research—UR

FORUM: Explore your research interests

TOPICS: Research, proposal,

Step 3 – Part 1

Keywords: research, methods, enactivism, ontology, epistemology, methodology, intercultural communication, sampling,

Link to process document

Link to forum

Link to blog

Thank you to all those who have helped me reach more clarity on this assignment and the research tasks that lie ahead! (-:

The following is a condensed version of my reflections on the several stages of my research proposal. I welcome your feedback and comments.


The research will explore issues of globalizations related to the personal learning experience of long-time international sojourners. This qualitative study will examine the dynamics of personal transformation affecting international sojourners and the relevant development of global-mindedness as processes of learning ensuing from intercultural contacts, reflection, acculturation, increased cultural and intercultural awareness, development of intercultural communication competence, and personal growth.  To contain the scope of my research, I could (still undecided) consider the theoretical framework and taxonomy in Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (see below) against which to analyze my findings.

Possible Themes: global learning, identity building, intercultural competency, identity negotiation, avowed and ascribed identity, intercultural learning, cross-cultural/multicultural identity, intercultural communication, tolerance for ambiguity, adaptedness, experiential learning, long-life learning, reflective learning,

These themes seem to suggest a link between one’s intercultural experience and learning. Intercultural competence emerges as the outcome of such interplay. One’s continuous contact with a different culture sets in motion certain learning mechanisms that preside over his or her ability to develop intercultural competence.

How does this study relate to my participation in the ALGC?

This tentative proposal relates to the relevance of learning in the experience of people who live and work outside of their original culture. The themes also relate to one of the core aspects of the ALGC, i.e. Global Learning, which has been broadly defined in a previous course as “that aspect of learning that includes an understanding of human interactions and knowledge across cultural boundaries in light of the cultural differences affecting the participants’ diversity of communication styles, values and beliefs. Global Learning occurs within a collaborative and transformational context of world-wide networks. Global Learning may eventually promote a paradigm shift that would ultimately redefine people’s identities on a personal and potentially global scale.”


This study is directed to all those who are interested in learning more about the experience of international sojourners and the development of intercultural competence as a process of learning, identity negotiation and ultimately personal transformation. It may be of interests to scholars, interculturalists, cross-cultural trainers, people working internationally, educators, and to the many people who are living the life of international sojourners at the start of the third millennium.

This study will contribute to increasing acceptance and understanding of a new way of contracting one’s own cultural identity beyond the limitations and allegiances imposed by monoculturalism. Recognizing and promoting transnational attitudes will hopefully play a significant part in defusing current nationalistic/ethnic strives.


Having grown up in a bi-lingual area close to an international border has certainly contributed to my interest in the learning opportunities presented by cross-cultural experiences. After living abroad for many years and through my experience in the ALGC I have realized the importance of learning for our human experience. This realization prompts me to start this research on the link between intercultural learning, personal transformation, and the shaping of identity in a globalized society.


As I believe that culture plays a fundamental role in our learning processes, I am approaching this research from a contextual constructivist approach as suggested by Cobern (1993). In his view, “construction takes place in a context – a cultural context created by, for example, social and economic class, religion, geographical location, ethnicity, and language.” (Cobern, p.1)

In the course of the research, an enactivist perspective will allow for additional meanings to emerge from the narratives.

This research will be both descriptive and explanatory. The research will follow a phenomenological approach within a qualitative research strategy. Accordingly, the focus of the research will be on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of the world. It will therefore develop from a hermeneutic perspective.

AREAS OF INQUIRY (more can be added)


  • Degree of adaptation experienced by the participants (adaptation is used here broadly to cover different levels of intercultural engagement)
  • Shaping of identities
  • Learning about the new cultures (ABC, i.e. Affective, Behavioral, Cognitive)


  • Importance of fluency in the local language


I will use snowball/purposive sampling to select a small group of people (max 15) who have an experience relevant to this research.

The main selection criteria will include the following:

  • Participants will be individuals that have lived in more than one culture different from their original ones for a certain number of years.
  • Participants will be independent movers who left their original country following a personal call.
  • Participants will be based in different countries across the globe.
  • Participants will be somewhat fluent in the language of their relevant host country.


This research will be a world-wide scale descriptive case study emerging from in-depth interviews of a selected population.

Data collection will occur in two phases, which will ensure that the research questions will be adequately addressed. This dual collection process will allow each participant to reflect upon her or his intercultural experience. In accordance with the scope of this research and its hermeneutic nature, I will encourage participants to explore their multicultural experiences from whatever angle they may wish to do it. This will ensure credibility.

This study will follow Guba & Lincoln’s (1985) taxonomy on credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability.


Respondents’ thick narratives will be collected through semi-structured interviews in the form of qualitative “write in” questionnaires.


This will allow respondents to reflect on their experience and formulate written descriptions that will be analyzed without the need to transcribe them. Respondents, particularly non-native English speakers, will have the opportunity to find the words that more accurately describe their experience. This method is also inexpensive when done though through the e-mail, and doesn’t have a time limit.


No opportunity to observe para-language patterns such as non-verbal communication cues. No immediate opportunity to ask follow-up questions.


This may be done at a later stage to address certain aspects as they emerge from the narrative analysis. It will serve as a triangulation tool. Rather than implementing additional theoretical sampling, I will attempt to clarify and deepen the findings collected through the available written narratives. This will be done iteratively with the examination of available, relevant literature.



A new cultural environment exerts an influence on people’s experience, which may have an impact on people’s identities. I see the process of identity negotiation as a learning experience.

  • What is the influence of culture on personal identity
  • How is one’s experience influenced by perceived and/or projected avowed and ascribes identities?
  • What are the building blocks of personal identity?

Individual’s ability to successfully engage cross-culturally:

People who live outside of their original culture develop skills and knowledge to deal with their everyday reality. This process lies at the foundation of how successfully (however that may be defined) they engage with their context.

  • What are the difficulties encountered when living in another culture?
  • What are the perceived benefits of such experience?
  • What are the learning outcomes of such experience?
  • How do international sojourners balance their original cultural identity with the need for functionality in a new cultural environment?
  • What are the learning mechanisms at work?

Stages of Intercultural competence:

Stages of intercultural development are not set in stone; they accurately reflect the main levels of experience through which people refine their intercultural competencies. They can be considered stages of global learning.

  • How does one develop intercultural competence?
  • In what ways do peoples’ narratives reveal issues of denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation, integration as defined in Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, and of transformation, an additional step in the development of intercultural competence as defined in the literature?

LITERATURE AND THEORY (very tentative)

The literature will serve as a foundation for the formulation of the interview questions; it will also serve as an aid for the iterative analysis of the finding as they emerge from the narratives.

The literature will include literature explored during the ALGC program and relevant scholarly publications on issues of intercultural communication. As an example, Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity could be used to inform my research questions.

Relevant literature will include publications on relevant topics, e.g.  Cross-cultural Adaptation, Multicultural Identity, Third-Culture Identity, Intercultural Communication Competence, the “A-B-C approach,” Culture Shock, Achieved Identity, experiential learning, perturbation, schemata.



Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards Ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Cobern, W. W. (1993). Contextual Constructivism: The Impact of Culture on the Learning and Teaching of Science. In K. G. Tobin (editor), The practice of constructivism in science education (pp. 51-69). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Retrieved on Oct. 15, 2008 from

Lincoln, YS. & Guba, EG. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

UR – link to essay

Understanding Research. A critical, comparative analysis of the methods and methodologies employed in the course case studies (link)

Link to E-portfolio (login required)

Learner: Oscar Vallazza – Linköping University

Course: Understanding Research (Linköping University)

Instructor: Martin Lundberg, Emilia Fägerstam and Fredrik Sandberg

Tutor: Fredrik Sandberg

Group: Indian Ocean

Essay 2 Date: December 5, 2009 Words:  2139

FLIP: reference to Adult Learning: Context and Perspectives


Link to forum

Remember when we were young koalas?

do you remember when we were young koalas? when we were still learning the ropes in the ALGC and were enrolled in Adult Learning: Context and Perspectives?

Today I found a post that I had written for that course. I found it relevant to our current stage of learning and the FLIP’s discussion. Specifically, I addressed an issue that this week Edouard brought to our attention again: the role of English in our learning context. I found it both refreshing and empowering to re-read those great comments.

You can find my comments here (Itslearning acces only)

I hope this is helpful. If you think it distracts you from our current discussion, please just disregard this post

safe travells everyone!

FLIP: conducive learning environment


Link to forum


I just read your post and I feel like I have to respond. I am speaking for myself, though I believe others may also agree with this: you have given us powerful feedback! I really appreciate the way you worded it: it’s constructive, respectful, synthetic, all-inclusive, forward-thinking, and in my opinion characterizes your role as transcending the teaching-learning dichotomy — we cohorters are learning and teaching and you, as a valuable resource person, are doing the same by considering students’ suggestions and feeding them back into the learning circle. Your summary is also very helpful.

One more thing: thanks for keeping an eye on the group dynamics and for adjusting our sub-groups as we move along. In spite of the idea that students “make it happen,” I believe that at some level, like this particular one, intervention has its merit, also considering the limited duration of the course.

I look fwd to the remainder of the course with renewed energy and confidence.


FLIP: Similarities and differences in “good education”

COURSE: Fostering Learning in Practice

FORUM: Koala 5

TOPICS: similarities and differences

WEEK 7 – TASK 2: Similarities and differences in “good education”

Link to blog

Share your ideas by (a) capturing one issue in 200-300 words using the following questions to prompt your selection AND (b) giving feedback on at least two people’s posting:

1) Similarities and differences that you see in your own and others’ representations around ‘good’ adult education?

I will summarize the differences and similarities found in the Koala group, and

add my comments. I will group them as follows:

Course requirements

Relevance to our Professional practice (educator)

Role of  English

Intercultural communication dimension

Our learning context / space

Course requirements:

Gursev and Kerrian talk about their difficulty in abiding by the words limit imposed for the written assignments. Jeanette also mentions having the feeling that she has forgotten all the readings.  Edouard talks about “heavy readings.”

Oscar shares Yolanda’s need for time efficiency and her task-oriented approach to work and learning.

Helga talks about the “being allocated to a group where other students don’t participate very much, or are on a different wave-length.”

Relevance to our Professional practice (educator):

Helga seems to be working full time in hers; I am working part-time, and Edouard is not currently working in education. Michiko, Oscar and Edouard recognize their marginality with respect to their respective educational professional practice. Michiko also talks about the “rubber band effect,” i.e the varying degree of proximity to the different subjects in the ALGC, and also mentions that she has “no background as a professional educator.”

Edouard talks about how other commitments may interfers with his participation.

Role of  English:

COMMENTS: There are varying levels of proficiency and comfort with regard to using English as our instructional language and main means of communication. I believe that such issue is understated, based on the assumption that proficiency is a requirement that was considered at the admission stage.

Helga is a native speaker; Oscar currently uses English as his first language but is aware of the implications related to being a non-native speaker; Edouard talks about ‘a lack of good command of english’.

Intercultural communication dimension:

We all see to share an approach embedded in multiple cultural experiences. We recognize the need for having intercultural communication embedded into our educational professional practice. Edouard advocates for closer examination of his country’s cultural assumptions.

Our learning context/space:

Helga talks about issues with the technology, others’ level of participation in group work, and “lack of response or lack of clear directions from some teachers.”

Oscar would add that – at least in this course – the amount of readings was fair and manageable. Issues with the technology side of Itslearning have been voiced by many.


A version of “good education” that would collate the similarities found in our group would include:

  • A manageable amount of readings (Oscar, Gursev, Jeanette), “less is better”
  • Less emphasis on group work (Helga, Oscar)
  • Relevance to personal capability envelop (Michiko, Helga, Edouard, Oscar)
  • Inclusion of Intercultural Communication components (Helga, Gursev, Edouard, Oscar)
  • Time-managed, task-oriented approach hopefully agreed upon by all (Oscar, Yolanda, Helga)
  • Available technology assistance to participants (Helga, Edouard, Kerrian)

2) What you see as missing or hidden in the representations?

Intercultural dimension:

As I pointed out at different stages of the ALGC since we started the program, there is an understated representation of our cohort’s intercultural communication dimension. Aside from recognizing the cultural and geographic diversity embedded in our program, little is offered in ways to interpret and deal with the nuances emerging from such diversity. I believe there is the assumption that “things will sort themselves out.” This dimension also includes issues related to our language of instruction – as mentioned above – and the cultural assumptions embedded in the Anglo-Saxon approach to higher education.

Pedagogical assumptions:

Another hidden representation is the ALGC is the pedagogical assumptions on which it is based. We have been exposed to several approaches to teaching, learning and working and had opportunities for discussing relevant issues, but there has been no indication about the pedagogical parameters that inform the ALGC. In the readings I found several learning contexts that may apply to the ALGC, but they are at times contradicting. In the past, the instructional “strategies” adopted in some courses clashed dramatically against the academic content and ensuing discussions, which has affected my learning, and left me confused and at a loss.

3) An example (eg. an image) that shows how your cultural embeddedness shapes your view or expectations of adult education? Try to make this explicit in writing for your group.

I see myself as a bridge. This is a metaphor that has been used by others (e.g. Alexander Langer) and in other settings (the Mostar Bridge in Bosnia; the Europabruecke in Tyrol) to convey the idea of connectedness across differences.

Mostar bridge

Mostar bridge

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