Beliefs, barriers, and benefits of a faculty abroad experience in mexico
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Prior research has emphasized the need for international agricultural experiences for students. However, university faculty members have the ability to greatly impact students in their preparation to be global citizens if they have participated in international experiences. Qualitative content analyses of preflective and post-reflective questions were used in this study to determine beliefs, barriers, and benefits to participation in a faculty abroad seminar held in Mexico. The analyses of perceived changes indicated that (a) contacts and interest in collaboration with Mexican institutions were not as difficult as originally thought, (b) personal relationships were critical for international collaboration, (c) Mexico's political climate was complex, and (d) all participants had a greater appreciation of the diversity of Mexican culture after participation. Data pattern analyses revealed that (a) Hispanics gained a greater appreciation of their own history and culture, (b) non-Hispanics felt that language was a barrier, and (c) traveling was more difficult for those with families/young children. Lack of funding for travel was a major barrier for the sustainability of long-term bi-national projects. Workload and time constraints were more common among Assistant Professors who had the added pressures of tenure and promotion. This seminar contributed to the internationalization of faculty by directly exposing them to the culture, history, government, business, and language of Mexico. Future studies to compare these results with other faculty abroad programs should be conducted.