“Life Is Bigger than New York:” Students of Color, Global Competence, Cosmopolitanism, and Travel

Anne P Desrosiers, Fordham University


This qualitative case study explored how, if at all, high school students of color who attended a segregated school, enacted global competence during a five-day trip to Stockholm, Sweden. How did students of color describe their short-term international trip, and how, if at all, did they enact, and reflect on global competence? The researcher used cosmopolitan, experiential, and social learning theories to analyze the qualitative data. Findings revealed that the four focal students noticed differences and enacted global competence by making comparisons and drawing conclusions. Participants described the positive impact traveling for five days had on their personal development, open-mindedness, and increased sense of responsibility. Furthermore, participants expressed a desire to travel more and viewed themselves as global citizens. For some of the other students, complaints about physical conditions limited their observational capacity. Despite these complaints, findings revealed that for a majority of students, five days overseas led to slight changes in openness to ambiguity, and greater tolerance for racial and socioeconomic differences. Although global competence reflects important skills, when combined with situations where students of color experience racism, global competence may silence youth. Students of color may conform to a “nice traveler” identity, instead of reacting to discrimination. This study shows that there is a specific need for exploring travel experiences of students of color in particular. Given the discovery of racial nuances of global competence, this research highlights possibilities for the inclusion of students of color in the literature, to extend empirical understanding of this unique group.

Subject Area

Education|Behavioral psychology|Black studies

Recommended Citation

Desrosiers, Anne P, "“Life Is Bigger than New York:” Students of Color, Global Competence, Cosmopolitanism, and Travel" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13903154.