Diversity Abroad recently completed its ninth consecutive year of campus visits through its national outreach, The Passport Tour (TPT). This initiative continued to reach hundreds of college students throughout the country prioritizing students who are traditionally underrepresented in pursuing global education opportunities. As we began to plan our spring 2017 tour, the team considered our nation's current political and diversity climate and urgently committed to expanding our efforts to areas that we had not visited in previous years. We traveled to nineteen institutions throughout Michigan, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee with an emphasis on rural communities. With fewer study abroad fairs being offered during the spring, we have the unique opportunity to further personalize each campus visit. We work with Education Abroad, Career Services and Multicultural Affairs offices to create a series of targeted student outreach events and workshops on campuses and connect students back to Diversity Abroad resources. I’ll share a few of my experiences as I led most of the Tour’s visits throughout the country.
Highlights from The Passport Tour
As the Tour stopped in Michigan, I spoke to a group of peer advisers who worked in the study abroad office at their university. I facilitated a session where we discussed identity and how to navigate conversations with peers who have intersecting identities and the challenges they may incur abroad. We also discussed personal bias, how to avoid assumptions, and how to be aware of our dialogue especially when advising. The session comprised of candid conversations that led to enlightening discussions and it was one of my most memorable moments of the Tour.
In Tennessee, I collaborated with a couple of departments at a university to facilitate a Study Abroad and Your Career session — a workshop model that can easily be replicated at your institution. Students listened to my twenty minute presentation on the transferable global skills that can be developed abroad and how to professionally articulate their experience to employers. Students also received the coinciding Diversity Abroad booklet. The university’s Career Services department invited a professional from their local Chamber of Commerce to speak about the impact of study abroad from an employer perspective. The session ended with a brief presentation from a study abroad alumna who continued to network upon return to campus, which led her to be selected for an internship with a prestigious faculty member.
The Tour later stopped in Oklahoma where I spoke with students from rural communities, a demographic of students who are also underrepresented in education abroad, and discussed how studying abroad can have a positive impact on them and their local communities. In Colorado, my visit consisted of several opportunities to speak with non-traditional students with the conversations leaning heavy on how to balance family and a global learning experience. As The Tour headed south, my time in Texas was filled with curious students asking probing questions as they began to see education abroad as not just a phrase, but a reality they wanted to pursue.
Throughout The Tour, eighteen students (study abroad alumni) were video interviewed and openly shared their positive experiences and challenges while abroad. Student interviewees represent a diverse range of cultures, perspectives, and study abroad destinations. These interviews can be used as a resource to empower your students to learn abroad. Additionally, many of The Passport Tour visits were captured on our social media pages — Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Bringing Diversity Abroad to Your Campus
We frequently facilitate unique opportunities to engage in challenging conversations about awareness and access to global programs as it pertains to one’s identity. If you are interested in bringing us to your campus to facilitate these discussions and to share resources with your students, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org