Date of Conferral
Teachers are being asked to implement cultural awareness into their instruction in the 21st century classroom, yet many lack the requisite knowledge and skills to accomplish this. The purpose of this inquiry was to explore the perceptions of teachers who are returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCV) regarding what in their long-term international experience influenced them to include cultural awareness in their instruction. Bennett's developmental model of intercultural sensitivity and Mezirow's transformative learning theory were the conceptual frameworks. The research questions for this qualitative study asked how a long-term international volunteering experience impacts teachers' pedagogy and what instructional practices RPCV teachers consider to be influenced by their Peace Corps experience. From 11 interviews, codes were identified and categorized into patterns and themes. There were three key findings. The first was that teachers who are RPCVs recognized their Peace Corps experience provided them with a deep cultural experience that brought about the realization of their own culture. The second was their recognition of their ability to adapt to cultural differences more easily than before they had their Peace Corps experience. The final finding was that RPCV teachers choose to use deep and engaging teaching practices with varied approaches, forms, styles, and subject matter in their classrooms upon their return to the United States. Given the current problem of preservice teachers entering teaching jobs with a lack of cultural understanding, these findings could contribute to positive social change by providing a practical approach for policy makers and universities to increase attention to promoting international volunteering and implementing cultural awareness in their curriculum.