Making sense of Bali. Unintended outcomes of study abroad programs

Robert Hill, Noel Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Study abroad programmes for teacher education students are increasingly being evaluated to determine their effectiveness in achieving intended outcomes. There is a danger, however, that such evaluations will ignore valuable but unintended and serendipitous outcomes of such programmes. This paper investigates an example of such an outcome, the development of a critical perspective towards media constructions of 'otherness'. In 2002 a group of Australian teacher education students undertook an intensive in-country Indonesian language programme. The course included mornings of formal immersion language classes and afternoons of cultural experiences with local students. Throughout and following the programme the students were interviewed and wrote about their changing perceptions of Indonesia and the implications of the experience for their professional development. Soon after their return Indonesian-Australian relations were challenged by the terrorist attack in the tourist heart of Bali. Two hundred and two people, including many Australian tourists, were killed in the bomb blast. In some cases the students were personally acquainted with Australian victims. As part of their reflection upon their in-country experience the students were asked to comment upon whether, and in what ways, the Bali bombings might have affected their perceptions of Indonesia. The students were highly critical of the ethnocentric and stereotyped way in which the Australian media depicted Indonesians in their reporting of the bombing. These students were concerned with the effect that such media constructions might have upon Australian attitudes towards Indonesia and were prepared to challenge such media constructions in the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalTeaching Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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