Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 5, No 1 (2016)

Cultivating Global Citizenship Abroad: The Case of Asian MBA Students in Dubai Introduction

Shelbee R NguyenVoges


Graduate business students come to the classroom with a minimum of three-years of professional experience to fine tune their skills in one of four content areas: IT, global Logistics/Supply chain, Management,, or Finance/Wealth management. The accelerated program combines coursework, an applied project in the area of interest, and an internship experience.The purpose of the research aims to explore the critical reflections and insights of graduate business students coming from the Asia and Pacific region, and interning in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The exploratory nature of this case study lends well to qualitative narrative analysis. A voluntary and anonymous space was created by the researcher (author) and informed by relevant literature and scholarship relating to facilitating critical reflection. Learners were offered a structured prompt at the end of their internship experience in order to privately reflect on some of the major cultural, academic and professional lessons learned while 'on the job' as an international intern in Dubai, UAE. Learners seek out a variety of people, places and spaces to make sense of the copious amounts of learning that occur over a condensed and intense international educational experience. 24 graduate students’ critical reflections reveal perspective transformations about 1) local and global identity, 2) personal/professional balance in career path and 3) the need for collaboration and shared experience abroad. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is fairly uncharted territory when it comes to understanding the nuances of 21st century experiential learning and development for students across the world. An evaluation of this type of pedagogical practice serves as an important piece of dialogue for how meaningful and transformative experiences can be fostered through other ‘learning by doing’ initiatives in the region and around the world. Exploring critical reflections from learners enrolled in a graduate business program offers insight about how their educational experiences are shaped by the context of the Middle East and what in particular encouraged meaningful learning from their individual perspectives. While there has been much debate and discussion about how experiential learning abroad can foster perspective transformations, the UAE offers an especially open, rich intercultural dynamic, which not only enhances understandings of global citizenship, but also enhances understandings about one's self.


Study Abroad; Narrative Analysis; Intercultural learning; Critical Reflection, global citizenship

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