I wrote Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences to facilitate my work of advising American students going to study in Africa. I was painfully aware that there was no book I could rely on for the kind of orientation I wanted for these students. I therefore decided to write my own book.
I am grateful that other people like this book. Lately, Elizabeth M. Cannon and Carmen Heider, professors at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, have written about their experience of using this book. In a recently published article, they discuss their experience of leading a study abroad program in Tanzania, including the challenges of motivating students and providing them socio-cultural orientation. They led the program several times, learning from each experience in order to improve the program. Here is what they did during the third year:
We also thought carefully about how to design our on-site class sessions to reflect our commitment to active, student-centered learning, and provide general guidance to our students. We decided to focus these classes on Mbele’s Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, one of our readings from 2008, because this Tanzanian author challenges stereotypes through the presentation of his cultural experiences. Before we left the United States, we divided students into four groups and assigned each a section of this text on which they would lead one of four on-site class sessions. On-site discussions focused on comparisons between Mbele’s views of Tanzanian life and students’ interactions with the people they met and the places they visited. Frustration was replaced with excited conversations. These classes shifted from tense obligations where learning was stifled to an exciting component of the trip where insights flourished (p. 68).
I am happy and grateful that the book is such a helpful resource for others.