Cultural Mediation in International Exchange Programs: Personalization, Translation, and Coproduction in Exchange Participant Blogs
This study analyzes cultural mediation in international exchange participant blogs, exploring their significance for relational public diplomacy. We recognize exchange participant blogs as a site of public diplomacy at work. Moving beyond the dominant assumption guiding exchange programs as exporting values and ideas to foreign publics, we consider the extent to which the public engages in the processes of meaning making. Narrative inquiry of blogs written by participants of German and Japanese government exchange programs finds that the participants negotiate their everyday encounters with the host by personalizing, translating, and coproducing their experiences for and with the audience. The narratives convey a complicated and nuanced understanding of the host country that is interpreted through the lens of cultural and social identity embodied by the participants. The sequential and the fiction-like storytelling quality of the blogs transport audiences into the narrative world, resulting in enjoyment, emotional attachment, and identification with bloggers from their audience.