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Meet the Team: Associate Director

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 28, 2016

Trixie Cordova - Associate Director

 

Tell us about yourself:
My interest and passion in global education began when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy in the summer of my junior year. Like many of the students I’ve engage with, I was a first generation college student to immigrant parents, struggling with ‘imposter syndrome’ in my early college years. To me, the study abroad experience was foreign, intimidating, and exciting all at once; but I’m so thankful I did it. The experience left an indelible impression on me; one that made me reenvision what my future career goals would and could be. Like so many first-time travelers, all I could think of afterwards was, “Where to next?”

 

This question led me to pursue opportunities I never considered before. After graduating from UC Berkeley with my BA in Sociology and American Studies in 2005, I moved to rural Japan to be an Assistant Language Teacher with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program for two years. While there, I traveled throughout the country and extensively throughout Asia.

 

From Japan, I moved to New York City to pursue my MA in International Education Development with a concentration in Peace Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. After graduating in 2011, I’ve worked at a broad range of organizations and institutions that have all been rooted in social justice, multiculturalism and global education before coming to Diversity Abroad in 2014.

 

Why did you join Diversity Abroad?

I discovered Diversity Abroad purely by coincidence (or fate!). In the summer of 2012, I randomly met Andrew Gordon (Diversity Abroad Founder and CEO) in an elevator in New York City. Talk about delivering an elevator pitch! Once I heard about his work, I knew I had to get involved somehow. I’ve been at Diversity Abroad for 2.5 years now, and I’m so thankful to be part of a team that embodies my life’s passion. Diversity Abroad’s mission represents so much of my own lived experiences and who I am today because I’ve been able to go abroad. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.  

 

What do you do at Diversity Abroad?

As Associate Director, I oversee all of our Student Services. This includes organizing our online resources such as the DiversityAbroad.com website, administering in-house scholarships, and developing original content. I also direct our efforts on the ground, including The Passport Tour, our Campus Fellows program, as well as the Overseas Ambassadors program. Last, I assist with some Diversity Network programming as well, most notably to oversee our annual Global Student Leadership Summit, which is a collaborative effort between Diversity Abroad staff and our very dedicated planning committee.

 

Where do you see global education going in five years?

After this month’s election, this question takes on a whole new meaning. What I do know is that the number of diverse students in education abroad is still not reflective of the percentage they represent in this country. So my hope is that even more diverse students recognize the value of this experience, and pursue it now more than ever.

 

I’m not sure what the next administration might do to help our work take two steps forward or five steps back; but I do seek comfort in knowing that Diversity Abroad has cultivated an environment that embraces cultural differences for both student and professionals; both of whom are willing to fight to make this opportunity available for others.

 

What I hope is that in five years, we not only see an increase in diverse American students going abroad; but also an increase in on-campus cross-cultural engagement as well. If misinformation and negative stereotypes continue to plague students’ lives here at home; it may be increasingly harder to justify global education when so much work needs to be done stateside. As international educators, we have a responsibility to help facilitate dialogue on campus to make sure students are not misinformed.



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Meet the Team: Manager of Learning & Assessment

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 21, 2016

Pamela Roy - Manager of Learning & Assessment

 

Tell us about yourself:

 

I have been engaged in international higher education for more than 12 years and have published and presented on a wide range of topics in this field.


My transnational story began with my birth in Calcutta, India as I traveled back and forth between India and Toronto, Canada where I was raised, learning to speak Bengali and training as a classical Indian dancer and singer. After high school, I spent 16 years studying and working abroad in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Michigan where I developed a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion work.

 

In 2009, I engaged in an international professional development collaboration with faculty and administrators at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) which sparked a long-term commitment and passion for work on/about the African Continent. I spent the next five years building networks, making lifelong friends, guest lecturing and collecting data in South Africa which resulted in a published thesis on the lives and narratives of Black African, Indian, and Colored academic women in post-apartheid South African higher education.


More recently, I founded the Consultancy for Global Higher Education which offers personalized project management and strategic leadership to universities, non-profit philanthropic, and non-governmental organizations. Some of my clients have included the Global Internship Conference, the POD Network in Higher Education, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and The MasterCard Foundation, one of the largest independent foundations in the world providing access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Why did you join Diversity Abroad?

 

I was thrilled to learn about Diversity Abroad’s tremendous efforts in raising the profile of diversity and inclusion within global education during my tenure as a research and scholarship associate for Michigan State University’s Office of Study Abroad.


In 2016, while guest speaking on the best practices and ethical considerations for engaging with host communities in the Global South at the annual NAFSA Association for International Educators Conference I was introduced to Andrew Gordon, the Founder and President of Diversity Abroad. We spoke about the organization’s mission, goals, and strategic plans for assessment and learning. There was a direct alignment with my professional interests, expertise, and aspirations so I was keen on contributing to the organization’s successful legacy.

 

What do you do at Diversity Abroad?

 

Learning and research are key aspects of the work undertaken by Diversity Abroad. As the Manager of Learning & Assessment I ensure that the organization maintains its leading voice on access, diversity, equity, and inclusion in global education. Some of my responsibilities include but are not limited to:

 
  • Guiding and managing curricular developments and ongoing improvements for Diversity Abroad’s eLearning trainings, short courses, regional workshops, and the Access Inclusion & Diversity Roadmap

  • Developing and administering surveys of Diversity Abroad members and other stakeholders in higher education

  • Analyzing organizational and survey data resulting in scholarly and non-scholarly articles

  • Leading educational initiatives and conference management for the Global Institute for Inclusive Leadership, the annual Diversity Abroad Conference, and the Minority Serving Institution Summit.

  • Co-planning strategic initiatives and identifying research priorities of relevance to the field of global education and diversity/inclusion

 
 

Where do you see global education going in five years?

 

The next generation of young people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in the United States will need the skills and experience to compete in the 21st century global marketplace. One way of doing so is through equal access to meaningful international education programs and adequate support from culturally competent professionals before, during and after their participation in these programs. Diversity Abroad has a major role to play in serving these populations through our advocacy, trainings, programs, and initiatives.


Diversity Abroad is also committed to supporting international students to North America; one such population are students from the African Continent which is home to approximately 600 million people under the age of 25, the world’s youngest population. By 2035, Africa will have the largest labor force in the world and the education sector will continue to grow exponentially. By educating young people in Africa, enabling them to become entrepreneurs, and by building ethical and sustainable partnerships in communities facing challenges, we can all help ensure that these young people lead the transformation and growth of their respective communities and nations.


Tags:  assessment  diversity  Diversity Abroad Staff  learning 

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A Message to the Diversity Abroad Community

Posted By Andrew Gordon, Friday, November 11, 2016

Andrew GordonTen years ago when I founded Diversity Abroad it was based on the notion that all students should have equitable access to global educational opportunities. Over the last decade, Diversity Abroad has grown into a vibrant community of students and professionals from all racial, national, economic, ability, sexual, and religious backgrounds. We’ve come together, behind this movement, because we share a common vision for the future; one of mutual understanding and one in which all young people have equitable access to the type of educational experiences that will help them appreciate other perspectives, develop empathy, and be prepared to take on the global challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

 

There is concern in our community, across the U.S. as well as throughout the world, for what the future holds. Based on the tone of the presidential campaign and the climate on our campuses, even before a single vote was cast, many of our colleagues and students expressed concern and fear. These feelings are real and should not be cast aside. Regardless of one's politics, as professionals we have chosen to work with and support students, domestic and international, from all backgrounds and walks of life. If we are to build trust and credibility with the students we serve we must be there to support our students during challenging times. We cannot hide behind the shield of international education and think that we do not have an important role in supporting our domestic students from diverse and marginalized groups. We all have a role in fostering an inclusive climate where students are able to thrive and succeed. Further, we work with colleagues from marginalized groups who share the same fear and concern that many of our students have. Being an ally and supportive of our colleagues will foster the kind of inclusivity that makes an office or an organization truly great.

 

It is abundantly clear that now more than ever our work is needed. There is a need to engage with those who hold different perspectives and beliefs and to develop mutual understanding here and abroad. There is a need to renew our commitment to partnering in support of marginalized communities and for self examination as we ask ourselves,“How can I be an ally to my colleagues and students who are from traditionally marginalized groups?” More than anything there is a need to recognize that the work we do isn’t just about student mobility. It never has been. The work we do has the power to change lives. It opens minds and can help young people develop an appreciation for difference and empathy, qualities that are essential if they are to become positive agents of change. This type of understanding is crucial for our society to be one where everyone can feel included, prosper, and be successful.

 

For Diversity Abroad nothing changes. We will continue to do the following:

 
  • Lead the field of international education and exchange toward diversity and inclusive excellence and ensure that our policies and practices equitably support all students.

  • Advocate for equitable access to global education at the local, national, and international level

  • Support marginalized groups, domestic and international, before, during, and after participating in an international education or exchange program

  • Provide resources, training, and guidance to the thousands of students, young people, and professionals who are part of our community

 

One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill who says, “The pessimist sees the challenge in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every challenge.” Yes, we face an uncertain future and challenging times may lie ahead. However, we can choose to remain optimistic and not allow the negative tone to dampen our spirits or our resolve. In doing so, whether we work with education abroad students or international students coming to our campuses, we will find the opportunities to support our students and continue the movement to develop the next generation of leaders by making international education diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

 

Onwards and upwards.

 

All my best,

 

Andrew

Tags:  Diversity  Elections  Inclusion  International Education  Study Abroad 

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#UnlockYourPassport: Highlights of The Passport Tour

Posted By Daneen Johnson, Monday, November 7, 2016

The Passport Tour (TPT) has traveled to more than 20 institutions across 6 states; impacting more than 1,000 students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. TPT is one of Diversity Abroad's (DA) initiatives to engage students, staff, and faculty with the ultimate goal of "preparing the next generation of global leaders.” This national outreach effort is eminently rewarding and enables us to spark an interest among students who have not considered studying abroad before, and to connect students to Diversity Abroad’s resources.

 

Each campus visit is unique and tailored to reach as many students as possible. This year our student events have included:

  • Study Abroad Fairs

  • Study Abroad 101 Information Sessions

  • Resource tabling in Student Unions

  • Classroom Presentations

  • Open advising sessions in Multicultural Student Centers  

  • Recording student interviews

  • Leading diversity and inclusion discussions for staff and graduate students

  • Moderating a panel consisting of students who have studied abroad

 

Upholding our Commitment

 

We meet students where they are-- on campus, in classrooms, and within inclusive academic spaces. TPT has visited a diverse array of locations and institutional types such as colleges and universities in rural and urban areas, ivy leagues, and institutions with limited access to global opportunities. The diversity of campuses may vary considerably, but the commonality is all institutions have underrepresented students who are not studying abroad. Students are seeking diverse perspectives on the personal (career) significance and overall community impact of this educational endeavor. That’s what makes Diversity Abroad’s impact on campus so unique.

 

Additionally, we are upholding our commitment to increase visits to Minority Serving Institutions, and during this semester alone, almost half of all TPT visits have been at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

 
 

Memorable Moments:

 

Open group discussions with students about their excitement, and conversely their barriers to studying abroad create our top memorable moments of the tour. These conversations that we facilitate on campus not only allow students to hear from each other and help their peers critically think through topics of concern, but they also allow faculty to understand their students' needs. This is why we encourage faculty members to also review study abroad resources to prepare students who seek their advice.

 

Likewise, one-on-one conversations with students are just as valuable as the group discussions. In conversing with students, many have told us that they see a reflection of themselves in the DA team. May it be that we share the same race/ethnicity, religious identity, passion for travel and food, immigration story or ambition to thrive in life, students quickly open up and share their thoughts. For example, I recently shared a meal with a student who promptly connected with me based off of physical identity. With much excitement, she recommended we eat at the best new restaurant near campus where she anecdotally walked me through her recent semester abroad in South America. Giving students undivided, unadulterated attention, be it in a group or individualized settings, helps them to reaffirm and improve self-efficacy, which is the desire of all educators.

 

Also, while visiting campuses we are able to meet a few of our Diversity Abroad scholarship recipients. Seeing them glow with joy as they share their memories of the “best experience of their lives” is always a lasting memory for the team.


Shift Perspective

 

Build authentic connections with students and don't assume that a student knows how study abroad is defined or it’s permanent impact on their personal and professional lives. Therefore an attentive ear is essential. If a student says “I can’t study abroad”, perception can lead a professional to believe the student isn’t interested, when in reality they may be concerned about the multitude of valid reasons that, unbeknownst to the student, can be overcome. Just this week while on a campus in Florida, a student walked past our resource table and mentioned that she would love to study abroad but has a child and can not be gone for a long duration of time. I countered by explaining to her that her school’s study abroad office offers short-term, week long programs. In that moment, her perception of study abroad shifted from completely unrealistic to possible and her perspective on the opportunity was more optimistic.

 

Our challenge to you: listen with intentionality, connect with integrity, educate with care, engage in critical conversations, and challenge students to pursue a global opportunity. It’s a straightforward and healthy reminder for all of us to better refocus our students perceptions to help them have a clearer view of reality.

 

The Passport Tour will be on back on the road visiting campuses across the country in spring 2017! If you are interested in hosting Diversity Abroad on your campus, please contact Daneen Johnson, Community Engagement Coordinator at djohnson@diversityabroad.org.

 

Also, celebrate International Education Week with Diversity Abroad and IES as we host Embark to Excel: A Virtual Student Conference on Study Abroad and The Socially Conscious Global Citizen! Reserve your virtual seat here: http://bit.ly/e2econference2016

 

Tags:  diversity  iew  international education  TPT 

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Meet the Team: Manager of Operations

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Monday, November 7, 2016

Christopher LeGrant - Manager of Operations 

 

Tell us about yourself

I have been working in global education for 9 years, a career choice that was solidified after completing my last year of college in London, England.  Soon after returning to the States I began working for the volunteer and teach abroad organization, GeoVisions, helping to build the outbound division of that organization from scratch. During my six years with GeoVisions, I traveled to 17 countries on five continents and also got to speak with thousands of people about the rewards and challenges associated with living, teaching and working in another country.

These experiences (especially in the Global South) lead me to pursue a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of San Francisco, which instilled a deep understanding and appreciation of global issues, cultures and theories.  This experience was heightened by living on a farming cooperative in rural Nicaragua, where I worked with the cooperative members and conducted over two months of sociological fieldwork. This life changing period reinforced my affirmation for social justice and appreciation of cultural diversity that underlies all of my work.

Why did you join Diversity Abroad?

Having experienced it myself, I believe deeply in the transformative power of global education. As globalization continues unabated, it’s more important than ever that young people develop the interpersonal and intercultural skills that will allow them to thrive and that these opportunities be made accessible and relevant to all people. Because of this I’m thrilled to bring my skill set and experience to an organization that’s dedicated to ensuring diverse and underserved students access global learning opportunities.

What do you do at Diversity Abroad?

In addition to managing all daily internal operations, I also develop and administer the finance, human resources and operational policies and processes within Diversity Abroad.  The fact that we are a small (but mighty) organization allows me to become involved in many of our initiatives, from helping to plan our Global Institute for Inclusive Leadership in Brazil, to contributing to new and powerful features for our website.  I also get work with our Founder and President to expand our network and further assist our partners in reaching more diverse and underserved populations.  There’s never a dull moment and it’s really a pleasure to work with such an exceptional team!

Where do you see global education going in five years?

We still have a long way to go until we see participation in global education programs that is truly representative of the diversity of the US population.  That being said, we have seen an increase in participation of underserved populations in recent years, which is very encouraging.  Because of the committed work of professionals throughout our industry, I hope we will begin to see diversity initiatives, not as additional campaigns but completely incorporated into the outreach and operations of global education institutions and providers.  I believe more young people will begin to see global opportunities, not as a mere luxury, but as vital to their personal and professional development.  Because if this, I see global opportunities increasing in places like community colleges and graduate programs.  Ultimately, I see education abroad becoming an even more important way for young people to participate in shaping a more inclusive, shared future for the world and that’s certainly something worth fighting for.

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