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Study Abroad for Student Athletes

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 29, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

Contributed by: Devin Walker - University of Texas, Austin (on behalf of the Task Force on Male Students)

While Black male student-athletes are only a small percentage of the overall student body at institutions of higher education (IHEs), they are often the faces that represent their respective school, locally and nationally, through their over-representation in the televised and revenue-producing sports of college football and basketball. While these IHEs benefit a great deal from the physical exploits of their male student-athletes, researchers and practitioners have questioned if these athletes are getting a fair deal. In his book, The New Plantation, Hawkins (2013) argues the current structure of college athletics leads to the institutional and ideological control of Black student-athletes. Black bodies produce a product, however, they do not get paid for their work. Instead, the money goes to figurative ‘overseers,’ who are coaches, athletic directors and departments, colleges, universities, and the NCAA. With millions at stake annually, researchers and practitioners must continuously examine institutional practices that lead to the exploitation of Black male student-athletes for the financial gain of such ‘overseers.’


Colleges and universities have initiated support programs that emphasize the development of alternative, salient identities to being a student-athlete, however, most programs have not been able to consistently enrich student-athletes academic outcomes and personal development (Harrison and Comeaux, 2011). Instead, many student-athletes suffer from identity foreclosure as they fail to develop other aspects of their identity due to their over-identification with their athlete role (Brewer et al, 1993; Beamon, 2012). Athletic identity foreclosure is especially problematic among Black student-athletes, as the role of athlete “may dominate their alternative social and personal identities” (Bimper and Harrison, 2011, p. 278). A critically important step in developing the student-athlete holistically is providing them with diverse psychosocial experiences to explore and learn about other aspects of themselves (Henry & Closson, 2012), which is often challenging in the high-stakes world of collegiate athletics.


Thus, if student-athletes were offered study abroad scholarships and opportunities as part of their collegiate experience like so many other students, would they take advantage of the opportunity? Studying abroad has been widely regarded as a collegiate experience that positively impacts identity development and negotiation (Wick, 2011), academic self-concept (Paige et al., 2009), career readiness and maturity (Preston, 2012), and critical consciousness (Wick, 2011), all of these aforementioned characteristics counteract athletic identity foreclosure. However, it appears that these opportunities are not readily available to student-athletes. In fact, some argue that student-athletes are discouraged and intimidated from participating in study abroad activities from athletic departments and influential university personnel. Why are the most valuable assets to so many universities (Black male student-athletes) denied some of the most valuable opportunities (studying abroad) in college? Even more, the potential benefits of studying abroad suggest an interruption in the process of athletic identity foreclosure.


Studying abroad offers an intervention into the prevalent athletic identity foreclosure that affects so many Black male student-athletes which commences as early as the teenage years but becomes particularly apparent on collegiate campuses. Additionally, studying abroad provides students with a global mindset necessary to be competitive in the 21st century global market.


International educational programs rooted in a critical pragmatic approach, would challenge students to re-negotiate their identities and subjectivities as they relate to: race, nationhood, Americanness, oppressor, privileged and oppressed. Education abroad can impact student-athletes personal, academic, and professional development all while helping student’s gain a greater critical consciousness of the world in which they live.

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Why Student Leadership in a Global Context Matters

Posted By Carla Sinclair, Monday, February 15, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

One of the goals of the annual Diversity Abroad Conference is to share best practices and resources on engaging the next generation of students in international education opportunities. But another key component of the three-day long program is harnessing the experiences of those who have done it already — and pushing them further. The Global Student Leadership Summit, which runs simultaneously to the conference, is a program packed with workshops, networking events, and opportunities for students to put their skills to the test.

The Summit is chaired by a committee of three international education professionals. One of these planners is LaNitra Berger, Director of Undergraduate Fellowships at George Mason University, who said she got involved with Diversity Abroad's Annual Conference and Global Student Leadership Summit due to its approach to diversity and international education.

“The conference is so unique in terms of what it provides for professionals, I felt like providing something for students would be a natural next step,” she said. “It’s very quickly becoming one of the most important conferences in the study abroad field. It’s important for practitioners to be connected in the conference community, but it’s also really important for students to tap into some of these resources. My colleagues are some of the most talented, educated, well-traveled people around, and I think students need to start making these connections and meet those people.

The Summit, in its second year, gives students the chance to take the first step in using their international experience to focus on leadership in a global context. Or, as LaNitra described it, towards more proactive solutions.

“It’s becoming more and more clear that most of these global problems aren’t going to be solved just by people dropping bombs on each other. The more people who have had on-the-ground experience in other countries, the better we are as a country, the stronger we are, the stronger the planet is,” she said. ”Diversity of students, different backgrounds, having that one-on-one time and seeing other students that went through the same thing, that’s important.”

The committee has set up a variety of different activities at the conference for study abroad alumni to explore their skills. “We’re having some networking opportunities to meet each other, there’s going to be a keynote speaker to energize the group,” she said. “We’re doing a career session so they get a feel of using their study abroad experience in a career context, and a fellowship session to talk about postgraduate opportunities.”

“There’s also chances for them to network with the professionals in the conference, as well as a case-study opportunity where students work together to tackle a problem related to the field,” she said. “They won’t only be working on something, but they’ll be working together.”

The case challenge entails groups of students coming together and examining the obstacles that face underrepresented demographics in study abroad, and brainstorming ways to improve both participation numbers and the experiences of these students during their programs abroad. They will then have the opportunity to present their findings at the closing plenary to professionals on the last day of the conference.

“The conference is a really great opportunity for them to realize the significance of what they have done as students who have studied abroad. They’re significant statistics, and students need to understand that they’ve managed to pull off this great thing, that they’ve been able to study abroad,” she said. “But there’s also an expectation that they take that, and make it into something that’s meaningful for them professionally and academically.”

“That’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”

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Race Matters in Education Abroad Blog Series

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

Background on Race Matters Blog Series

Over the past year in particular, colleges around the country have grappled with how to respond and address student protests and concerns about police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and racial tensions that exist on their campuses. Some observers have called attention to a root issue related to the unrest: the fact that many university communities do not know how to constructively talk about racial differences and inequities that affect their students. Of course, this absence of effective dialogue and hesitancy to engage and be honest about the continued role of racial privilege and disadvantage is not unique to higher education. In the U.S. we struggle with talking about race and this uncomfortable reality affects everyone, regardless of background. People in privileged racial positions (such as Whites) tend to either minimize or deny that race still matters and shy away from engaging on the topic, or feel guilty and defensive about their own privilege, leading to a paralysis that prevents any truly productive action. As a result, marginalized races are often denied recognition of their continued experiences of microaggressions as well as very real discrimination that still exists. Additionally, minorities are frequently told that race “does not matter”. This approach denies an integral part of people’s identities and the human experience and prevents any progress towards significant social change. However, despite these difficulties, we believe that college campuses are the perfect place to start building effective and transformative conversations about race because of their stated commitments to diversity and inclusiveness.

So what does this have to do with study abroad? Our Race and Ethnicity Task Force has been charged with composing a series of articles over the next year related to support for racially and ethnically diverse students. When we came together this fall the racial tensions on our university campuses were very much on our minds. We have been discussing how the same lack of dialogue and unpreparedness in handling racial differences is likewise present in many education abroad offices and programs. While we as a field are making incremental changes, and organizations like Diversity Abroad have brought us together and advanced much of the conversations around diversity, much work remains. In the upcoming year, our Task Force will be writing about the various dynamics that prevent us, as a study abroad field and as professionals, from authentically discussing and addressing the role of race and ethnicity in study abroad programming and student and staff experiences.

We begin our four part blog series by discussing the first dynamic of colorblindness, a mindset that we view as detrimental to advancing conversations about race and the related support that we can provide to racially and ethnically diverse students: "Colorblindness" is Not the Answer

Contributed by the Diversity Abroad Network Task Force on Racially & Ethnically Diverse Students. 

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Updates from the Inaugural Task Force on International Students

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 4, 2016
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

Guest Post by the Diversity Abroad Task Force on International Students:

BJ Titus (Chair) - University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Stephanie Leahy - New York University
Jacquis Watters - Maryland Institute College of Art

As the International Students Task Force begins its inaugural year, we have started to reflect on why this student population is of particular interest. This task force was created to begin exploring and developing resources for professionals working with international students.

While many colleges and universities have been interested in international students who choose to study abroad (again) for some time, the college experience overall for international students continues to become more and more relevant. When looking at the Open Doors data, almost 1 million international students studied at US colleges and universities last year, it makes sense to start looking at this population more closely than we have in the past. We all have international students on our campus, but once they arrive, how are you working with this population and how does this international student population impact diversity on your campus?

Often times International students are lumped into an identity of international student as their primary identity, but as we all know international students are not monolithic when it comes to their identities. International students may fall into many other diverse categories: student of color, class diversity, or sexual identity among others.

International students coming in to your colleges and universities have a rich narrative. How can we celebrate and use it to educate ourselves and the student body of your campus?

Throughout the academic year, our task force will continue to reflect on these very important questions to compile what we believe to be the “10 Things All Advisors Should Know When Working With International Students.” We have identified why this work is critical -- it’s time to start identifying how we can make a difference.

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Diversity Abroad Awards Over $34,000 in Scholarships

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 11, 2015
Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016

Here at Diversity Abroad, our mission is to increase access, inclusion, and diversity within international education. One of the ways we do that is by partnering with many of you to provide study abroad scholarships to our diverse audience. This semester alone, we have awarded over $34,000 to 15 students to make study abroad possible during Spring, Summer, or Fall 2016. Almost ⅔ of these students indicate that they receive a Pell Grant and 87% identify as a racial/ethnic minority. We look forward to connecting with more of your students to further diversify international education programming. You can find more information about our scholarships and access the Summer 2016 Scholarships by visiting our scholarships page at DiversityAbroad.com. These scholarships would not have been possible without the support of our scholarship partners; thank you to the AIFS Foundation, CEA Study Abroad, CISI, and Semester at Sea for their commitment to diversifying study abroad

This is the first term that we have awarded the Diversity Abroad & CISI Planning scholarship - available exclusively to students attending Diversity Network institutions who may not have made the decision to study abroad just yet. This is a pre-decision scholarship that includes additional support from Diversity Abroad as students identify programs and need access to scholarship money to purchase items such as passports, flights, application fees, and other costs that may be incurred before institutional aid is disbursed.

Please help us in congratulating the Diversity Abroad Scholarship winners from this semester. You can follow along their journeys on the Diversity Abroad blog (blog.diversityabroad.com) and we will be profiling each of them over the course of the next semester.

Semester at Sea Diversity Abroad Scholarship ($5,000 + flight)

Ines Boussebaa, Boston University, International Relations & Journalism

Qian Cen, University of San Diego, International Business

Thu Duong, University of San Diego, International Relations

Kristen Garcia, University of San Diego, Marine Science

Diversity Abroad & CISI Planning Scholarship ($2,000)

Catherine Chenault, Texas A&M University, Special Education

Rita Ebhaleme, The University of Georgia, International Affairs

Austin Mahler, University of California San Diego, Cognitive Science

Andre Ray, University of Michigan, Screen Arts & Cultures

DiversityAbroad.com Scholarship ($500) sponsored by AIFS Foundation

Jamillah Kelly, Berry College, Animal Science

Nadia Lopez, University of California San Diego, Sociology & Social Inequality

Selina Macias, College of Mount Saint Vincent, English

Luis Sanchez Casanova, Universidad del Este, Marketing

Najah Yasin, Temple University, Architecture

 

CEA Study Abroad & Diversity Abroad Scholarship ($2000)

One Awardee

 

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