International immersion in Belize: Fostering Counseling Students’ cultural self-awareness.

Angel M. Dowden


International cultural immersion provides an in vivo, authentic, cross-cultural experience that can enhance multicultural awareness, knowledge and skills. This article examines the impact of an international immersion on graduate counseling students' cultural self-awareness using a qualitative approach. Five graduate counseling students participated in a 3-week study abroad in Belize where they interacted with persons from diverse cultural backgrounds and settings. Four major cultural self-awareness themes emerged from the analysis of participants' journals, (a) discrimination and prejudice, (b) cultural pride and appreciation, (c) cultural sensitivity, and (d) self-awareness. The findings are presented along with implications for future research and the use of international immersion as a viable experiential teaching strategy to enhance counseling students' cultural self-awareness.