, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 363–377 | Cite as

How Preservice Teachers Engage in the Process of (De)Colonization: Findings from an International Field Experience in Honduras

  • Suniti Sharma
  • Jubin Rahatzad
  • JoAnn Phillion


Critical multicultural education and its promise of cultural inclusion face a crisis induced by powerful neoliberal forces that view education as an economic enterprise rather than open dialogue and inclusive pedagogies. With this in mind, this article uses interpretive phenomenology to examine how US American preservice teachers engage in the process of decolonization to challenge neoliberal influences in education and develop multicultural awareness during an international cross-cultural field experience in Honduras. Participants in this study comprise seventy-six preservice teachers from a Mid-Western university who went on a study abroad program to Honduras. Data for the study were collected through interviews, discussions, class assignments, reflective journals and researchers’ field notes and observations. Multiple levels of data analysis reveal that international cross-cultural field experiences promote a deeper understanding of colonial social relations and questioning of powerful neoliberal networks that perpetuate the status quo to disadvantage diverse and minority students. Findings also indicate that through reflexive and critical dialogue preservice teachers negotiate difference, engage with the self and other, and question their own knowledge and practices in sustaining colonial relations of privilege and domination with implications for classroom practice. This study suggests that ongoing multicultural awareness at every stage of teacher preparation, beginning at the preservice level, has the power to effect change in future classroom practice so that all students, including diverse minority populations experience educational equity and equal opportunities for academic success.


Preservice teachers Neoliberal influences Decolonization Multicultural awareness International field experience Study abroad 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher EducationSaint Joseph’s UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education, College of EducationPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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