Discover Germany—Discover USA
2012 Heiskell Award Winner: Internationalizing the Campus
Nomination submitted by: Susan Carvalho, Associate Provost for International Programs
The twin programs of Discover Germany—Discover USA share a mission: to provide a mechanism through which students from underrepresented groups in both countries can reconsider their own concepts of identity through an international experience. The program sends 20 students of diverse backgrounds from the University of Kentucky (minority, Appalachian, or first-generation college students) to study in Berlin each June, and brings 20-25 German students who are immigrants or first-generation citizens to study at the University of Kentucky each September.
The Discover Germany—Discover USA program provides a fully-funded, five-week, academic experience for these students and is, moreover, an important component of the University of Kentucky's strategy to further campus internationalization. It is conducted in partnership with the German Fulbright Commission and receives additional support from the Hertie Foundation and Germany's European Recovery Program.
The overarching goal is to allow students to reflect on the concept of "otherness" in local, national, and global contexts. The first-generation and immigrant students selected for the Discover USA program represent a new Germany that is experiencing a spike in immigration. As they bond with each other and acknowledge their differences, they also affirm their German identity, and compare their feelings of inner versus outer identity with the ways that they are perceived by U.S. students. Similarly, U.S. students on the Discover Germany programs are members of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority or are first-generation college students. Whereas they see primarily their differences before the travel experience, once they are in Germany they also grapple with the dissonance between how they see themselves and how others perceive them.