Thoughts about the other: A first-person inquiry

Stephen D. Kroeger’s blog introduces his forthcoming article.

“This paper uses first-person action research to provide a fascinating look into the dynamics of doing cross-cultural work.  It takes into account the complex political as well as cultural aspects of these relationships, providing valuable insights for action researchers or anyone working across social, political, economic, and cultural divides.  It is also very creative using both drawing and writing as a means for reflection.”  – Associate Editor Victor Friedman when recommending this paper for publication in ARJ.

The taxi we were riding in passing below a mural on the wall near the Bethlehem/Jerusalem gate. Drawing by the author.

Throughout my reflective process, I was frequently tempted to trivialize my experience, thinking it narcissistic.  After all, I was invited to work among a group of teachers and administrators living in the Palestinian West Bank who were living under the intense colonizing conditions of an occupation, where freedom of movement, access to water, land, and other basic human rights were relentlessly threatened.  

Nothing I would experience came close to the dehumanizing conditions of this multigenerational crisis.  Rather than ignore my own narrative as inconsequential, however, I attempted to interpret my own dilemmas in light of the experience of others in the hope of gaining deeper empathy that would allow me to act in ways that expressed solidarity.

There was a moment during my work that I wondered why I had passively accepted a particular change in the process that I felt sure would be less effective, but this acquiescence is not so uncommon.  Students where I teach rarely enter the classroom demanding power, and the status quo power of the teacher-student relationship is well established and rarely questioned. 

Those who do resist are often labeled or removed.

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 15-day access is available for this article beginning 8 April. 

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments section so we can continue this discussion!