Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dimension #2 - The Host

Let's Talk

Okay, we've had a good break for 2 weeks now! 
Let's get back to work on understanding how we can plan our learning program in order to achieve our goals.  We're focusing in this section on the 2nd Dimension of 3D Dynamics - which is the HOST.

The story I want to share with you, to help you begin to grasp what it means to connect with the Host, comes from my alma-mater, Middlebury College.  It is about a student who recently received a very special scholarship award called the "Watson Fellowship".   Only 40 American students are given this award each year.  It pays for a student to travel and do research for one year following their graduation.   The student I want to tell you about, whose name is Austin Davis, spent the early months of his junior year in Egypt - which was the inspiration for his Watson research project.  Austin, a soon-to-graduate political science major, says his goal is “to spend time with people, listen to their stories, immerse myself in their everyday lives, and learn what ‘disability’ means throughout five strikingly different Arab societies – Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and immigrant Arab communities in Greater London.” 

As we look at how a person can enter a culture, to learn the language or anything else (like about how disability is viewed), we are going to see the importance of connecting with the Host, the people with whom you will live and work.  Austin plans to interact with disabled people in these various places...and the amazing part of his story is the powerful "in" he has with these people.  This is because, during his first stay in an Arab culture which was in Egypt during his junior year, Austin had an accident - and lost both of his legs.  That stunning fact combines then with Austin's recovery from this traumatic and disabling experience to finish his degree at Middlebury, and his plans now to return, to connect at deeper levels with his Hosts.  He describes it this way:  "I’m spending time in a culture from which I can learn so much, making up for the year abroad that I missed.  By focusing on disability in these communities, I get to understand the gap between me and the kid in the other operating room who doesn’t get to flee to America as soon as he stabilizes.”

This is such a beautiful example of a learner with specific goals for intercultural proficiency who understands the importance of Host awareness - and is planning very strategically to develop it!! 
(For the whole story, check out  This article is the source of the above quotes.)

Please share your comments in the space below...
The Task
So, how can Austin's story inform our own adventure in language learning? 
One way is to grasp the fact that in order to enter into a culture, and function effectively -
on whatever level you want to function -
you must make an effort to understand and connect with your Host

Who is your Host? 
This depends on your context and on what you choose to focus.  Your Host can be:
1.  an individual - or a group of individuals - fellow students, or colleagues at work.
2.  a family who welcomes you into their home, or a whole clan if the culture has a close-knit clan structure
3.  a community, where you live and study or complete a specific project
For Austin, his immediate Host will be the kids he mentions, and their families.  Then at a different level, it will be the organizations he contacts and works with in the various places he visits which are supporting those with disabilities.

For you, you decide - and then you begin to learn about your Host!

Please share your comments in the space below...
The Tools

There are so very many ways these days to learn about Hosts at whatever level you choose, what with the internet, other media resources, members of other cultures who may be living where you live, others who have already lived in your Host culture. 

It's good to get started before you enter the culture...
And to continue then as you start your experience there - as you meet people and begin to identify the Host or Hosts with whom you will choose to connect.

One tool I can offer you is called a "Host Profile".  It's a questionnaire to get you started.  Let me know if you want a copy.  Let me know too of ways you discover, or links you find helpful, as you begin getting acquainted with your Host.

Please share comments in the space below.

That's it for this time! 


  1. betsy, what an amazing and inspirational story - thank you for sharing. as i read this post, i realize a "host" pertains to all relationships (including work)...yes, i would appreciate receiving a "host profile" and learning even more. so glad for another post!

  2. Thanks, Karen! You are so right - we can all be independent lifelong learners! Where-ever we find ourselevs, whatever we are doing. One of the keys as we've seen here is to know our Hosts!