Junior Year Abroad Network Annual Report 2006-2007
December 1, 2007
In December 2007, an initial cohort of participants in Berkley Center's Junior Year Abroad Network (JYAN) presented reflections on their time spent living and studying around the world. As JYAN participants, students immerse themselves in diverse settings from England to Egypt to China and write several letters from abroad dealing with questions of religion, culture, and politics in a different part of the world. The letters are posted as a running conversation on a dedicated Berkley Center website. Through the letters, students engage in dialogue about their common experiences and perceptions of their different cultures, particularly the many roles that religion plays in their host countrys culture. They share stories about how to navigate new lands and the discovery of promising new directions for their lives. On their return, participants meet several times to reflect on their experiences and develop and present a publication for the wider Georgetown community and beyond.
In Georgetown classrooms, students are presented with texts outlining ideological contradictions, cultural clashes, and the challenges of fundamentalism, and they learn these are often intractable issues. However, the students letters do not speak of encountering intractability or hopelessness. Instead, they are engaged by the contradictions and invested in the possibility of achieving solutions. Their letters also display a new understanding of interstate and interreligious relationships as they confront the sources of bitterness face-on. Across the multiplicity of reactions and struggles to adapt to modernity, they discovered that, whether with angry or hopeful ears, people around the world are listening. The students' words demonstrate that now, more than ever, there is potential for deeper collaboration and richer dialogue across the divide between religious and secular life. Many students found religion where they had not thought to lookas a surprisingly under-represented but significant force within the development world. On a more personal level, the students spoke of finding a sense of original and evolving self alongside their varying encounters with other peoples, cultures, and religions. Flung across the four corners of the world, immersed in different languages, beliefs, and activities, they learned one lesson that was universal: the revelation that they shared a common humanity with each individual they encountered.
Table of Contents
About the Junior Year Abroad Network
Student Reports from Abroad
Learning About Religion and Culture
Traditional Religion Meets the Modern World
Seeing History Up Close
Religion in Spite of Secularism
Development and Religion on the Ground
The Global Challenge of Immigration
Learning about Others, Learning about Oneself