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Diversity Abroad Welcomes 3 New Campus Engagement Representatives!

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 13, 2018
Updated: Friday, August 10, 2018

Diversity Abroad is excited to welcome three new staff members to the team! As Diversity Abroad Campus Engagement Representatives, Tiffany, Senait, and Mya will be part of The Passport Tour (TPT) this fall, a nationwide campus-based initiative designed to introduce study abroad resources and opportunities to students, faculty and administrators, particularly from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

Since 2008, TPT has brought Diversity Abroad to hundreds of campuses across the country to connect thousands of students to resources. Each campus visit looks different, but can consist of various on-campus outreach initiatives such as tabling at a study abroad fair, hosting information sessions, moderating alumni panels, making classroom visits, and more.


Meet Tiffany Brown 

Tiffany Brown

Tiffany Brown is the Southern Campus Engagement Representative for the 2018 Diversity Abroad Passport Tour. Tiffany is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in global educational and professional opportunities and believes that equitable access in international exchange is the ultimate medium for an educated and inclusive global citizenry. 

Shortly after graduating with a BA in Spanish (2014) degree from the University of Georgia, Tiffany moved to Medellin, Colombia and worked as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Universidad de Antioquia. There, she delved into the world of international education and continued to nurture her interest in the intersection between language, race, and narrative. Most recently, Tiffany worked as a Princeton in Latin America fellow at Yspaniola, a nonprofit in the Dominican Republic, where she bridged her interests in Latin America, experiential learning, social justice, and community education. Tiffany is excited to return home and represent the South on this year’s Passport Tour and encourage diverse and underrepresented students in their decision to pursue educational opportunities abroad! 



Meet Senait Chrisostomo

Senait Chrisostomo

Senait Chrisostomo is the Campus Engagement Representative for the Northeast region of the 2018 Diversity Abroad Passport Tour. Senait is an advocate for equitable access and opportunity to study abroad for diverse and underrepresented students and believes that cross-cultural exchange can serve as a medium for global understanding and academic and professional development.
Senait’s interest in global education sparked after completing multiple study abroad programs during her high school and undergraduate studies to Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil and Dominican Republic. She has since worked in education abroad in various capacities, including administrative and event coordination in higher education and non-profit settings in Seattle, Atlanta and New York City.
Senait is a recent graduate of the MA in International Education program from New York University and holds a BA in Business Administration, Marketing and a Certificate of International Studies in Business from the University of Washington.


Meet Mya Peters

Mya Peters

Mya Peters is a recent graduate of Trinity College-Hartford, where she received her BS in Psychology. Mya joined Diversity Abroad as the Midwest Campus Engagement Representative. During the 2018 Diversity Abroad Passport Tour, Mya will continue her personal commitment of advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion for underrepresented young professionals seeking global educational and professional opportunities.
Mya knows from experience how powerful and transformative global education can be on a person’s life. As an undergraduate, Mya had the opportunity to study abroad in Argentina, Uruguay, India, South Africa, and Brazil. During her time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she worked at L.I.F.E. Argentina as the Program Director’s Assistant, where she exercised initiatives to enhance the accessibility to education for underrepresented youth living in poverty. She further built upon her interest in serving underrepresented groups through her comparative research project hosted by the School for International Training. Her research focused on Health and Community: Globalization, Culture and Care across a diverse range of communities in India, South Africa, and Brazil. After acknowledging her privilege to have had such eye-opening global experiences, Mya developed a passion for increasing diversity within the realm of international education. She vowed to support diverse students through the process of applying to global opportunities, being abroad and re-entering into their home lives with their new set of knowledge and skills! 

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Diversity & Inclusion Among International Educators | Diversity Abroad Working Group

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 13, 2018
Updated: Friday, August 10, 2018

Diversity Abroad is delighted to introduce members of the State of Diversity & Inclusion Among International Educators Working Group. The results from the Diversity & Inclusion Among International Educators survey, conducted by Diversity Abroad in spring 2018, present an opportunity to examine how the practices, policies, and culture of international education offices support the recruitment, retention, and success of diverse professionals in the field. This group of global education colleagues -- with experience in conducting research on inclusive hiring practices, recruiting staff/faculty from diverse backgrounds, and/or advocating to promote a culture of belonging for professionals from marginalized communities within Higher Education -- will collaborate over the coming months to develop resources & thought leadership to support inclusive recruitment, hiring, and retention practices in International Education. 


Working Group Members

Lauren CollinsLauren Collins
University of Denver

Lauren Collins is a PhD candidate in the higher education program at the University of Denver. Her research looks at community experiences of study abroad programs, academic capitalism's relationship to international education, and critical global citizenship education. A trained educator, she leads immersive field education programs in China for Where There Be Dragons and teaches Global Citizenship at the University of Denver.  She also works as a Community Engaged Fellow for the University of Denver Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, as well as runs the campus food pantry.


Andrew Gordon
Diversity Abroad

Andrew Gordon is a social entrepreneur and CEO and Founder of Diversity Abroad.  With a passion for student success and international education Andrew founded Diversity Abroad in 2006 with a simple vision, that the next generation of young people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds have the confidence, experience, and skills necessary for success in the 21st century global marketplace.
As the chief national advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion within international education, Andrew speaks and writes extensively on such topics. He has consulted colleges & universities, non-profit and for-profit organizations, and government agencies on developing strategies for connecting ethnic and racial diverse, first generation and low income students to global learning opportunities. 
A native of San Diego, Andrew is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and proficient in French. He is a graduate of the University of San Francisco and has studied, worked and traveled throughout Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.


Alisha StantonAlisha Stanton, Ed.D
University of Denver

Alisha Stanton is a graduate from the University of Denver – Morgridge College of Education doctoral program, where she also completed a Masters in Higher Education. She entered the field of education after spending many years in broadcast sports and music entertainment. Following the completion of an internship in Lancaster England, and traveling throughout Latin America and Europe with secondary students, she developed a passion for global and international education.  Her current research initiatives focus on creating global experience opportunities for students of all economic and cultural backgrounds, and the inclusion of global and international understanding in graduate education preparation programs - specifically in colleges of education. As part of the inaugural administrative staff of the Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello (DCISM), a Denver Public School, she provided opportunities to promote global and cultural learning, and positive youth development beyond what is offered during the traditional school day. Her prior work with non-profit organizations such as The Bridge Project and Colorado Challenge Foundation - whose missions are to improve education opportunities and quality to a diverse range of students - created an opportunity to develop a cultural enrichment programing which focused on promoting global awareness among secondary students in Denver Housing Communities.  Her current research is inspired by the lack of diversity in fields of global and international discourse, and the need to increase access to global knowledge.


Angela MillerAngela Miller, PhD
University of Florida

Dr. Angela Miller is the Liaison for Outreach, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Florida.  She earned her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, her Master's Degree from George Washington University, and her undergraduate degree from Edinboro University.
Dr. Miller served as the Director of Study Abroad Services at the University of Florida, and the Assistant Director of Education Abroad, Coordinator of Faculty-led Study Abroad Programs, Study Abroad Advisor, and Assistant to the Vice-Provost for International Initiatives at Northern Arizona University.  She also served as the Coordinator for the Global Learning Initiative to implement global learning in the curriculum. 
Throughout her career in International Education, Dr. Miller has presented at numerous conferences on diversity in Study Abroad and Risk Management. She also served as the NAFSA State Representative for Region II, and Field Advocate for Arizona International Educators. Dr. Miller has coordinated multiple Faculty-led programs and co-led an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty to India.


Asabe PolomaAsabe Poloma, PhD
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Program

As Assistant Dean for International Students & Associate Director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Program, Dean Poloma is responsible for advising and providing academic support for international undergraduates; in that capacity, she serves as the main academic support dean for the international undergraduate community and is the liaison for the Dean of the College to the Office of Global Engagement. Dean Poloma also serves as Associate Director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program to coordinate a pipeline program with the goal of increasing the number of students from historically underrepresented groups who pursue careers in the professoriate.

Dean Poloma received her Ph.D. in Higher Education, with an emphasis on international and comparative higher education, from the University of Massachusetts Boston; she earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Hampton University, a Master’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in International Political Economy at Old Dominion University, and a Master’s degree in Management at Columbia University.

Prior to coming to Brown, Dean Poloma served as Executive Director of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT), a selective national pipeline program with the goal of increasing the number of historically underrepresented groups who pursue careers in elementary and secondary schools and the professoriate. She also served on the program staff at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation where she supported grant management, program development, and the fellowship selection processes of the Foundation. Asabe has taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the United States National Defense University Joint Forces Staff College. In addition, she has worked at the Hampton Roads Refugee and Immigration Services. As an administrator, advisor, and scholar, Dean Poloma has a passion for understanding and advocating for issues related to access and equity in education, global engagement, and the public good.

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Diversity Abroad Welcomes New Fellows!

Posted By Arielle Gousse, Friday, July 20, 2018
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2018

Diversity Abroad is excited to introduce four new fellows who will be supporting Diversity Abroad initiatives over the course of the 2018-2019 year. The Diversity Abroad Fellowship Program has invited graduate students and new professionals interested in pursuing careers or gaining professional development experience in global education to apply for the 1-year program. After a very competitive review process, Diversity Abroad is delighted to welcome four fellows to join the Diversity Abroad Team. Fellows will be collaborating with the Diversity Abroad team within the following areas: Student Support Services, Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Engagement, Educational Resource & Member Engagement, and Event Coordination.


Event Coordination Fellow


Care Allen

Care Allen 

Care Allen currently serves as a Program Services Coordinator for TRiO Student Support Services at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. Care graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Michigan State University and a Master of Education degree in College Student Affairs Leadership from Grand Valley State University. She has published work in GLACUHO TRENDS Magazine as well as research on High Achieving African American students at community colleges. Care has presented at the Michigan College Personnel Association conference, Diversity Abroad National Conference, and Grand Valley State Universities Leadership Summit as well as their Teach-In. Care has also participated in several case study competitions and presented to students all over campus about leadership opportunities.

In her spare time Care owns a True 2 Size shoes an online store exclusively for women wearing shoes sizes 9-13 (www.true2sizeshoes.com) and Fashion with Care and personal styling company and blog. (www.fashionwithCare.com).


Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellow


Nicole Barone

Nicole Barone

Nicole Barone will serve as the MSI Engagement Fellow for the 2018-2019 year. She is a doctoral student in the Higher Education program at Boston College. She received her masters degree from the University of Washington and bachelors degree from Western Washington University. Though it was challenging navigating college as a first-generation college student from a low-income background, she reflects on how higher education and international experiences have positively shaped her life - both personally and professionally.

She sought a career in higher education in order to create equitable experiences for students from historically marginalized backgrounds. Her research and professional interests center on college access, diversity and inclusion in international education, and study abroad at community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions. Her tentative dissertation topic will explore the role of faculty in community college students' decision to study abroad.When she isn't working or studying, Nicole enjoys traveling, dancing, visiting family and friends, and searching for good coffee.


Student Support Services Fellow


Austin Dixon

Austin Dixon

Austin Dixon is a native of the small town of Trenton, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received his bachelor's degree in interpersonal and organizational communication studies. In his senior year, he received the Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship which allowed him to spend time in Portugal, Spain, and France. Currently, he is a graduate student at Louisiana State University working to obtain a masters degree in higher education administration. His functional area of focus includes study abroad, where he would like to contribute to diversity and inclusion efforts in hopes of seeing more first-generation and male college students of color gain access to global education and exposure.


Educational Resources & Member Engagement Fellow


Simone Francis

Simone Francis

Simone Francis is a current masters student at Indiana University Bloomington in the Higher Education & Student Affairs (HESA) Program. She received her B.A. in Biology from New York University, where she worked extensively with student organizations and administration to support underrepresented students on campus. In 2015, she took her talents to New York University Shanghai in China to enhance the diversity initiatives offered by the Office of Student Life.


Now as a graduate student, Simone works with Residential Programs and Services as a Graduate Supervisor for Diversity Education. She has served IU's Diversity Council of the Graduate and Professional Student Government and as an ambassador for the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).

Approaching her final year in the HESA program, Simone is working with the International Institutes of Stanford University's Pre-Collegiate Studies Program for the summer, and throughout the year will be the Scholarship & Research Chair for the Pan-African Network of ACPA. Her experiences navigating new spaces as a first-generation, West-Indian, and Black woman in China, Australia, Cambodia and other countries have contributed immensely to her dedication in examining the intersections of social justice and global education. She is thrilled to be a Diversity Abroad fellow, and hopes the opportunity will propel both her professional and academic goals to create and support transformative educational spaces forward. 

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Game Time: Engaging Student-Athletes Abroad

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Contributed by 2017-2018 Diversity Abroad Athletes Task Force members:
Louis Berends – Syracuse University; Tara Michael - Global Players Study Abroad for Student-Athletes; Susie Duke - Grinnell College Erin Polnaszek Boyd - University of Wisconsin Madison; Robert Bennett III - The Ohio State University; Chris Haynes - University of South Florida; Eboni Preston - Laurent - US Lacrosse 



As a sequel to Pre-Game Changing the Conversation with Coaches, the 2017-2018 Diversity Abroad Athlete Task Force sought to provide more insight on how to actually engage with student-athletes while abroad. Therefore now it’s game time, and we will shed some light on successful program models and resources to reach this target demographic. First and foremost let us debunk some myths around student-athletes studying abroad.



Myth #1: Coaches generally do not support study abroad

According to a recent survey which garnered the responses of 830 coaches across all sports and divisions, 49% ‘agree or strongly agree their athletes should go abroad during their collegiate experience.’  These champions would most likely understand that studying abroad provides student-athletes a unique opportunity to further distinguish themselves and make them more competitive in a global economy. They understand the value in international experiences and the positive impacts these experiences can have on their student-athletes and their futures.  

Myth #2: Coaches are more concerned with training and team cohesion than studying abroad

In a personal survey, coaches were more concerned with the cost of a study abroad experience than an associated training regimen. Again, coaches want student athletes to succeed anyway they can. Coaches are just as concerned with the financial feasibility of a program than they are with a training regimen that aligns with their current program. Coaches need to be educated on these options for students to help them guide students towards programs that best fit their financial and team needs.  

Myth #3:  Athletic departments are money makers and can assist student athletes study abroad.

It is extremely rare to find an athletics department that makes more than it spends. In fact, according to a study by the NCAA, only 24 FBS schools made a profit off of athletics in 2014. In smaller DIII schools, general enrollment is highly dependent on athletic programs available.  These major concerns of coaches preoccupy their time. This is where the aid of other stakeholders comes in to assist coaches and athletes alike not only study abroad, but find ways to support it financially.


Myth #4: Coaches are the gatekeepers to all student athlete decisions

Coaches know their practice schedules, rosters and recruitment itineraries like the back of their hands leaving academics and other university related items to others including advisors, enhancement officers, peer leaders and yes...study abroad offices. These stakeholders hold massive influences over student athletes and can guide them through processes and conversations with coaches.

Program Models

Faculty-Led Programs (with or without Athletic Programming): Many schools offer education abroad programs for academic credit led by faculty and staff whom are identified as resident directors. These courses often include in-country instruction to further enhance the international experience giving learners a unique firsthand experience. Courses can be designed present students to different themes like sport management, educational access, marketing, and sports law. These types of topics provide students with a sense of how sport is ever-changing in a global context. Further learning can be enhanced with workshops, class discussions and activities, along with site visits.

Internships (with or without Athletic Programming): Many students seek internships to prepare them for the rigors of their respective fields after the completion of their baccalaureate degree. Build a network and relationships that will benefit them professionally with on-site training. As is common with internships, students will garner skills and experiences that will set them apart from their peers while engaging communities and cultures in an international context. Thus, global competencies are gained in the area of language acquisition, problem solving, self-awareness and the development of self-reliance and problem-solving skills.

NCAA Foreign Tours: For schools looking to engage international communities the NCAA supports foreign tours but there are regulations member institutions must be cognizant of as they make arrangements to ensure their students comply with the governing body’s guidelines. The optimal time for coaches and administrators to consider travel with foreign tours is during a vacation period that involves no classes or exams. There are also restrictions on the number of contests that can be held. In all, foreign tours allow student-athletes to participate in athletic competition in an international context. Learners can promote their sport as part of a goodwill effort.

Mission trip/ volunteer/service: Service learning and volunteering have long been deemed critical components to the educational experience. Such activities mix classroom learning with hands-on experience with community members in the respective country. Such opportunities along with mission trips can lead to personal, academic, and professional development. Courses that utilize such learning opportunities allow learners to have a historical sense of life in the communities visited. Students also develop communication, civic, and leadership skills through these particular excursions.

Co-Curricular Option: Expand the menu of short-term offerings by encouraging faculty to collaborate with coaches. Consider producing co-curricular opportunities that combine an academic concept with an element of sport. These co-curricular courses would embed a travel experience within a course. Coaches who are also current faculty may be more apt to integrate this model to combine their academic and athletic interests. In the same way, faculty who conduct research in a particular discipline related to athletics could form a strong partnership with a coach to generate this sort of model.

On-campus course work would be bolstered by travel to carefully selected destinations, and the travel component may or may not include training- or game-time. Dependent upon the time available as well as time of year, these options could be limited to 1-2 credits — still they give participants valuable time abroad. Not only that, but the participants need not only be student athletes. Improve group dynamics by integrating athletes with other students who are simply interested in the course topic. Co-curricular options could include students who are interested in sport but who are not involved in a team sport. The key is that the co-curricular model can give more student athletes more avenues to engage in a successful experience abroad.

Engaging Stakeholders

Academic Advising Staff

It is common for coaching staff to be pulled in many different directions making it difficult to discuss opportunities your office/organization might be able to offer. If you are encountering this situation, you may want to consider the other support staff working with the athletics department. Typically there are many people involved in supporting student athletes, ranging from advising teams to development teams. These other staff members are great resources as they are in frequent communication with the students and are usually tasked with ensuring the students are engaging with campus in ways beyond their sport. They know their schedules, availability, and other details that can assist you as you prepare materials to share with the student athletes. These support staff members can help you funnel marketing materials through their pre-existing list serves, newsletters, etc. using language and resources that the student athletes are already connected to on campus. They can also serve as strong liaisons between your office and the coaching staff to assist in messaging that you want to share.

Alumni Support

Build events around athletic contests on campus and allow alumni to connect with your current players.  Have your current students talk about study abroad opportunities or have a former player share the value of their global education experience.  A personal touch is invaluable. It’s all about connecting former student-athletes back to your program in a unique and meaningful way.



Global Players -- in conjunction with The Athlete Network -- distributed a survey to coaches and received 800+ responses among all divisions to collect info about coach’s perspective on study abroad & team travel among student athletes.Top 2 expressed priorities: performance (49%) & life skills (46%); life skills could include internships, time management, as well as other skills facilitated through an abroad experience. Approx 50% of coaches believe student athletes should participate in study abroad; 68% believe they should compete and train while abroad. 


Tags:  athletes 

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Losing (or Gaining?) My Religion

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 21, 2018

Contributed by: 2017-2018 Diversity Abroad Religious IdentityTask Force members:
Vivian-Lee Nyitray – Univ of California System; Lillian Read - Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University; Ira Kirschner - Rothberg International School, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ashley Metz - University of Minnesota, Learning Abroad Center; Daniella Lubey - University of San Francisco


It is safe to wager that most students studying abroad in recent, current or future years are not familiar with the 1991 R.E.M. song referenced in the title of this article. While the song's lyrics are not actually about losing one's religion (in fact, it is a southern saying akin to 'being at the end of one's rope'), like all good art – it can be about anything you want it to be about. Appropriately, the song's lyrics (such as “...life is bigger… than you, and you are not me…”) can be relevant and significant to the religious identity experience many students go through while studying abroad.


For many people, religion is an invisible identity, unless they choose to wear clear religious symbols or religious dress. Those who don't 'show' their identity, can also choose whether to 'out' themselves as religious (or as secular, if they are in a religious society). The choice to visibly identify as religious is just one choice that many people can make regarding identity throughout their lives. It can be a challenging decision due to anticipated perceptions about the reaction from others – will my identity be disrespected? Will I be ridiculed for believing, or not believing, in a higher power?  Is my religious practice legal in my current location? For others, it is not so much a concern, but more that they consider religion a private or personal matter and not something they need or want to share with others.

Religious Identity in Study Abroad

While studying abroad, students are faced with establishing support networks in a new environment that can feel far from the comforts of home. This can place students who want to explore a religion in a situation they haven’t experienced before – do they out themselves and risk being, at best, acknowledged as "the (non)religious one", or at worst, ridiculed as "the (non)believer"? This question echoes even stronger for students coming from a country where they were a religious majority, and are studying abroad in a country where they are a religious minority - such as Christian American students studying in a predominantly Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist country. Being in the religious minority abroad raises questions about accessibility to religious services and resources, personal safety, and more. Being perceived or treated as a "minority" while abroad can be a valuable learning opportunity for students who may have no prior experience being "othered" at home. Although this is a unique experience for students to better understand the everyday challenges of their peers from minority or underrepresented communities, it can still be a jarring experience for students who have never experienced a minority status before. Many of these experiences were indicated on a recent student survey distributed by Diversity Abroad and members of the Diversity Network Religious Identity Task Force. An American Christian student who studied abroad in a diverse religious community in South Africa reflected on her time as a religious minority stating: “[studying abroad there was] a learning and humbling curve for me to realise that I ought to also be tolerant to other people's religions and not feel so superior and conceited.”

Exposure of religious identity is also a critical issue for students with other visible identities, and raises the topic of intersectionality and legitimacy of dual identities. Due to the way that some religious leaders treat those who identify as LGBTQ, there are members of the queer community that are not comfortable around religion. Does this mean that an LGBTQ observant Muslim will be unwanted in an LGBTQ group due to their religious beliefs? There are also implications for race and ethnicity. In Israel it is not uncommon for a person of color to be Jewish. However, outside of Israel, Judaism is not a religion often associated with a person of color. Will that person not be believed to be Jewish, simply because of the color of their skin? Additionally, students may find that their ethnicity means that their host culture assumes they practice a certain religion. A Christian student studying abroad in India reported,I am Indian by heritage, so when I went abroad many people assumed I was Hindu since majority of Indians are.”

Supporting Students in the Religious Minority                                                                                                         

These are not easy questions, and often require bravery from the student to insist on the legitimacy of their intersectional identity. In regard to "outing" one's self as non-religious/religious, it is important to keep personal safety in mind and the specific country the student is in. Sometimes, people are curious about those that are different than they are and other times, they may be afraid of those that are different than they are. Open communication about faith, or lack of faith, is extremely conducive to learning about the other, building bridges and dismantling fears. Additionally, students going to a country where religion is a dominant and highly visible part of the host culture may need advice on how to interact with that aspect of society while abroad. A Christian student who studied in Oman stated, “I felt comfortable with what I am (Christian), but I was more worried on how to show I do not judge religion of any sort and I am open minded, while being in the Middle East.”


The same is true about becoming a religious minority while studying abroad. No one should be afraid to ask about finding resources and a religious community. Religious minority students will often find a desire to support their religious needs because they are a religious minority – as opposed to denying them access to resources because of that.


Religious students also need to be aware that they might be held up as an example for their entire religion, and might be called out if they defy the religious stereotype. For example, a Christian student that identified as religious might be reminded by their roommates not to forget to go to church on Sunday – even if the Christian student wasn't planning on going. A Jewish student might be called out for eating pork, and a Muslim student might not be invited to a pub crawl because their peers might assume that they don't drink alcohol or don’t want to be in an environment that serves it. It's important also to acknowledge Atheist students, who might be criticized for any portrayal of a religious belief, whether intentional or not.


Ultimately, these decisions are personal, and are up to each student. Individual factors also play a part and include the specific country's religion and climate, the student's comfort and level of self-confidence, and more. It is necessary for study abroad advisors to feel comfortable asking students if religious identity is a consideration for their study abroad experience; if students don’t feel comfortable talking about it, they can opt out of the discussion (but at least the responsibility of bringing it up won’t be on them). Staff at the hosting institutions should go out of their way to address this issue by normalizing the topic of religion, making sure that all advisors have a general familiarity with religious identities, and designating a staff member who will help connect students to the relevant resources in their host community. Students should feel comfortable asking all staff, from advisors at their home universities to their host institutions abroad, about resources for their religious identity. The comfort of discussing religion can be created by providing resources for students (that advisors can present to them without having in depth familiarity of specific identities), of alumni discussing their experiences abroad in relation to their identity - blogs, vlogs, interviews, or even a list of alumni who are willing to be contacted by prospective students. We should all remember that making religious identity visible or invisible is a choice that everyone can make, that intersectionality of other identities with religious identity is not only legitimate but common, and that religious journeys are full of ups and downs (not to mention lefts and rights). It is a valuable experience for students to go through the processes of losing, or gaining, their religions while studying abroad.

Tags:  religion 

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