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Student Perspectives on the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS)

Posted By Trixie Cordova, Thursday, February 8, 2018

The 4th Annual Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) is being held on from April 7-10 in Miami, FL concurrently during the 6th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference. GSLS is an innovative and unique opportunity for students returning from global opportunities to gain leadership and professional development skills among a cohort of diverse young leaders from around the country.


We’ve written at length about the benefits of GSLS as a unique re-entry opportunity for diverse students who have recently been abroad. GSLS students have shared incredible insights with us following their experience at the conference; and you can read more about their experiences through their firsthand accounts here:


By sharing their feedback with us about GSLS, students have confirmed that GSLS is a much-needed space for first abroad students and global leaders. We’re excited to feature two student alumni who have shared with us exactly how GSLS has impacted them personally and professionally.


Amira Beasley, Miami University Graduate, GSLS 2016 Alumna

In May of 2015, I boarded a flight flying from Madrid, Spain to Cincinnati, Ohio. Although I had spent five months studying in Madrid, my semester abroad felt surreal. I was grateful that my family, friends, and study abroad advisor had helped me knock down the obstacles that came with being a first generation student of color studying abroad. While on the plane home, I promised myself that I would find a way to help other students like me study abroad.

 


 

As the questions from friends and family died down, I decided to get to work in fulfilling this mission, but I had no idea where to start. Outside of my pictures and passion for international education, I felt like I didn’t have the right tools or platform to work on my mission. That’s where GSLS came in.


GSLS built the foundation of my international education activism. It surrounded me with exceptionally bright students and educators from all around the country who were equally as passionate about international education as I was. The two things about the conference that created lasting memories for me were the amazing sessions and the amount of support I received while there.


The hardest part about attending GSLS was picking which sessions I wanted to attend. Each session was an opportunity to learn an essential skill to help me make sense of my time of abroad and learn how to share that experience with others.


In addition to getting the opportunity to attend some incredible sessions, my experience at GSLS was also characterized by the amount of support I received while there. I not only felt immensely supported by my peers, I also felt supported by the educators. During the student presentations, they picked our brains to see how they could better support diverse students like us in the future. This made me feel like I had a stake in future efforts of diversifying international education. This was key in making me 100% invested in the mission ahead.

After the conference, I couldn’t wait to put everything I had learned from my peers into action. The first thing I was able to accomplish using my experience from GSLS 2016 was assisting in the creation of my university’s first Multicultural Student Symposium. It was a one day conference where students, particularly underrepresented students, were invited to a series of sessions about finding resources to study abroad, unpacking your study abroad experience, and more. One of the highlights of the conference was speaking with famed travel blogger and #travelgoals, Oneika the Traveler.

 

A few months later in the summer of 2016, I began an amazing year as a Diversity Abroad intern. During that year, I was able to work to fill the gaps that I found when searching for information being a person of color abroad. Before studying abroad, I had no idea what it was like being black in Spain, how to take care of my natural hair abroad, and how to unpack uncomfortable experiences triggered by differences in culture. Today, Diversity Abroad has articles about all of those topics... and MORE.


As a GSLS 2016 alum, I would encourage students to run, not WALK, to sign up for the next GSLS. Don’t let your experiences abroad die out once you return home. Let them live on by helping others experience the same. Unsure of where to start? Let GSLS be your guide.



Kiara Brown, The Ohio State University Graduate, GSLS 2016 Alum

My name is Kiara Brown and I was a student at the 2016 Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS), and later attended the Diversity Abroad Conference in 2017 as a young professional. I would certainly say that GSLS made an impact on me in relation to my academics, career aspects, and personal growth.


Before going to GSLS, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Uganda for a month with my peers at The Ohio State University (OSU). As the first person in my family to go abroad, my experience in Uganda opened my eyes to how few people of color go abroad, (for various reasons) and I wanted to help change that. My experience abroad was so fulfilling, and it is because of this that I want to become a study abroad coordinator and do what I can to change the narrative that few people of color go abroad (and even less go to Africa). I believe that more underrepresented people should be able to go abroad; not just to have a good time in a new environment, but to grow and learn something new that can positively impact their communities. Many people I have spoken to want to go abroad but are scared to do it. But when I tell them about my own experience, I encourage them that they could do it, too; and many have!

 


GSLS encouraged me to continue these conversations with people of color and to change the narrative of who can go abroad. I learned how to become an international educator through networking opportunities with professionals, future mentors, and fellow GSLS students with similar interests. After GSLS, I started working with my study abroad office as a student outreach assistant and gave advice on how I studied abroad in Africa as a first-generation student of color, while also explaining how my experience gave me professional skills that employers truly desire from their employees. I also had the opportunity to return to the Diversity Abroad conference as a young professional and was inspired to study abroad in Senegal before graduating in August of 2017.


I plan to continue encouraging people of color to go abroad through mentorship opportunities domestically. I am also considering becoming a high school teacher (focused on world history, visual art, and/or French), do mission trips abroad, and eventually go to graduate school in order to advise college students. I would love to create opportunities for people of color to go abroad where they can use the things they’ve learned abroad to develop their communities at home.


In conclusion, if you were to ask me “Why should students go to the Global Student Leadership Summit”, I would say that this opportunity will provide students with a space to adequately reflect and understand their experience abroad, network, develop leadership skills, develop their resume, and become inspired to start something new on campus or in their community.


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