Diversity & Inclusion in Global Education Blog
Blog Home All Blogs

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 

Share |
Permalink
 

Getting the Word Out: Is it Enough?

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Monday, July 13, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

Through participation in the Global Access Pipeline (GAP) and other venues, many organizations are committed to connecting students from diverse backgrounds to the prospect of international experiences as they move along the “pipeline” from K-12 through college. This “pipeline” provides innumerable opportunities to convey the message that international experiences are valuable and attainable for all students, especially for those from traditionally underrepresented communities. As professionals seeking to advance diversity and inclusive excellence within international education, awareness of how students move through this so-called “pipeline” from K-12 through college is imperative. International Educators at the higher education level often wonder if students are exposed to information about education abroad throughout their educational careers, at different stages along the pipeline. But is it enough to expose students from diverse backgrounds to these messages during their formative years? Or do we also need to consider who is delivering these messages?

A quick review of the demographic background of public school teachers and faculty members across the country indicates that students from diverse backgrounds are taught primarily by white educators. The National Center for Education Statistics indicates a mismatch in today’s classrooms. Now that “minority” students constitute the majority of public school students, the teaching force remains over 80% non-Hispanic white. Within higher education, faculty statistics are even more dismal. Not only is the faculty predominantly non-Hispanic white, Native American faculty member participation has been stagnant while faculty participation among Black males has actually been decreasing in recent years. Anecdotally, we know that students from diverse backgrounds are often drawn to study abroad when they are encouraged to do so by a faculty member, particularly when the faculty member represents the student’s background.

While research examining the academic impact (see here and here) -- often measured through test scores -- of same-race teaching instruction is inconclusive, many argue for other benefits.  

Leslie T. Fenwick, Dean of the Howard University School of Education, outlined some of the benefits to African-American and Hispanic/Latino students in schools with large percentages of same-race teachers in her recent Diverse Issues in Higher Education article entitled “Who’s Teaching Whom?”:

Tremendous benefits accrue to African- American and Hispanic/Latino students who attend schools with high concentrations of African-American or Hispanic/Latino teachers. These students are less likely to be expelled or suspended; more likely to be recommended for gifted education; less likely to be misplaced in special education; and more likely to graduate high school in four years.

Likewise, in the recent New York Times article “Where are the Teachers of Color?”, professor of education at Stanford University, Thomas S. Dee, said, “When minority students see someone at the blackboard that looks like you, it helps you reconceive what’s possible for you.”

Professor Dee’s statement is particularly relevant to our efforts to encourage students to consider international opportunities along the pipeline. For many of the traditionally underrepresented groups within international education, students are coming to college as the first in their families. This often means that they have not had role models at home who have pursued international study and other such opportunities. It is paramount, then, that the International Education community (from K-12 to higher education) prioritize hiring and retention practices to ensure that student backgrounds are proportionally represented amongst their educators. If we are taking the statistics and related implications seriously, there is no time to wait. Here are some areas for consideration:

What other resources and initiatives have been effective at your institution/organization to promote diversity and inclusion within global opportunities?

Tags:  global education  inclusion  Minority Students  Outreach  Study Abroad 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

DACA Students and Study Abroad

Posted By Trixie Cordova, Friday, June 26, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

At Diversity Abroad, our mission is to increase the number of diverse and underrepresented students that are aware of and take advantage of global opportunities. Recently, I attended a NAFSA session that delved into the unique needs of undocumented college students. As one of the most underrepresented student groups, I was curious to learn more about how those of us in international education can better support these students. During this session, professionals that work closely with undocumented and/or otherwise underrepresented students (first generation, high financial need, etc.) discussed this issue at length, from the stigma students face once identified as undocumented, to their own personal challenges dealing with “imposter syndrome” in college. This session really made me reflect on what can be done to better support undocumented students -- aiding them both to succeed in college, as well as potentially study abroad.

I discovered that there is still so much to learn about what makes their experience as students so much more challenging than any other student group. As institutions await or take action based on federal and state level policies (see: DREAM Act definitions below) dictating what they can provide, educators find themselves in a unique position overall, but especially if and when those students express interest in studying abroad. So what do we know about undocumented students and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and how can we ensure that our work ultimately helps us maintain student dignity within the process?

Below are some definitions of the various ways students may choose to identify. These have been provided by the presenters of the NAFSA session, Best Practices for Working with Undocumented and ‘DACA’-mented Students:

Undocumented Student:

A foreign national residing in the U.S. without legal immigration status. It includes persons who entered the U.S. without inspection and proper permission from the U.S. government, and those who entered with a legal status that is no longer valid.

DACA-mented Student:

An immigrant youth who has obtained benefits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (work authorized and deferred action from removal) that was established by Executive Action on June 15, 2012. These benefits do NOT provide lawful status.

Federal DREAM Act:

A proposal that will lead to legal status for undocumented youth who entered the U.S. before the age of 16, have good conduct, other requirements

State DREAM Act:

Vary by state, do not give lawful status, but can allow undocumented students access to in-state tuition, financial aid, and/or other benefits

DACA and the DREAM Act are NOT the same, but one of the key benefits for ‘DACA’-mented students is the potential to travel abroad with advanced permission from the Department of Homeland Security, for employment, humanitarian and of course educational purposes -- including study abroad.

It’s important to understand the mere fact that students self-identifying as undocumented is both an incredibly courageous and frightening declaration. Meng So, the Director at UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student’s Program (USP), spoke about how USP began in part due to one student’s experience with a UC Berkeley professor he had admired. After seeking out this professor for a potential mentorship and revealing his personal hardships to get into college, this professor not only refused to be a mentor; he also questioned how that student was even admitted in the first place.

Unlike the aforementioned UC Berkeley professor, I believe it is every educator’s responsibility to put personal politics aside and provide support to those students who are courageous enough to expose their hardships and ask for help. While some educators may not understand the stigma associated with referring to students as “illegal,” it is important to have this conversation at an office, if not at the institution-wide level. Doing so can truly transform the environment in which these students find themselves, and allow educators to become allies in a greater social justice movement.

While we await for the federal DREAM Act to further bring peace of mind to some students, it is my hope that undocumented and ‘DACA’-mented students can at least feel safe in confiding in international educators about how they identify, and that we can continue seeking opportunities to support undocumented students to succeed -- either on campus or abroad.

Tags:  advising  study abroad  Underrepresented Students 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Meet the Summer 2015 DiversityAbroad.com Scholarship Winners/Video Bloggers

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Friday, May 8, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

Diversity Abroad is happy to announce the winners of our DiversityAbroad.com and Diversity Abroad Network Scholarships. Each year, we aim to help meet the needs of students from diverse academic, economic, ethnic, and social backgrounds. Many thanks to our partners CEA Study Abroad and the Intern Group for their partnership and support in making international opportunities possible for these students.

Please join us in congratulating the following students and supporters:

Diversity Abroad Network $500 Summer Scholarship 
for students at Network Member Institutions
(Name, Major, University, Study Abroad Country)
Ashley Young, Broadcast Communications, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, India
Ardilla Deneys, Interior Design, Virginia Commonwealth University, Denmark
Sarah Swaney, Early Childhood Education, University of Georgia, Costa Rica
Estrella Quiroz, Public Relations, University of Florida, Italy
Jamie Pearson, Special Education, University of Illinois, Australia

CEA & Diversity Abroad $1,000 Scholarship
(Name, Major, University, Study Abroad Country)
Tatiana Gheybi, Human Biology, UC San Diego, France
Julianne Capati, Marketing, University of Arizona, Czech Republic

The Intern Group Diversity Abroad Full Summer Internship Scholarship 
This full scholarship covers the full cost of participating in an internship this summer in Medellin, Colombia (including transportation, housing, and tuition)
Luis Sosa, Double Major: Diplomacy & International Relations + Latin American Studies, City Hall University, Colombia

Our scholarship recipients will be blogging about their experience and sharing photos and videos on the DiversityAbroad.com blog. Check out their first posts to see what their biggest concerns are as they prepare for their upcoming semester abroad experiences by visiting the blog at blog.diversityabroad.com.

We hope to see more of your students applying for future scholarships with Diversity Abroad! To learn more about our scholarships, please visit http://diversityabroad.com/study-abroad-scholarships.

Tags:  Education Abroad Diversity  Funding  Scholarships  Study Abroad 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

First, But Not Alone

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Friday, May 1, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

As many organizations and institutions align with the Generation Study Abroad Initiative to double study abroad participation over the next 5 years, it is imperative that the international education community continue to reach out in effective ways to the student groups who have traditionally been disproportionately underrepresented in study abroad, such as first-generation college students (first-gen students). Study Abroad participation statistics nationwide, while slowly shifting, continue to mirror socioeconomic and racial disparities also present in the US higher education system. While not always the case, first-generation college students often identify as racial/ethnic minorities and/or with low income backgrounds.

For the purposes of this blog post, first generation college student, in line with the  federally-funded TRIO programs definition, will refer to a student whose parent(s) (adoptive/birth/custodial) did not complete a bachelor’s degree. Much of what we already know about increasing access to college for first-gen students is also applicable when addressing education abroad opportunities for these students. As we consider new strategies to increase involvement in education abroad among first-gen populations, both access and support are crucial factors. 

Often, although not always, finances are a big concern for first-gen students. Despite the availability of funding options for education abroad through a student’s home institution, the Gilman Scholarship Program, among many other funding sources, the belief that education abroad is out-of-reach financially still persists for many first-gen students. Maintaining a job (or several) while pursuing a college degree, and sending money home to the family, are often of primary concern for first-gen students. A study abroad experience may be perceived as a luxury or an expensive “vacation” that doesn’t fit into a first-gen student’s budget or tight academic plan. What strategies and policies exist within education abroad offices to address these concerns? How might education abroad offices adjust messaging campaigns to more effectively communicate with first generation college students? How is the value of a study abroad experience, especially as it relates to future career plans, demonstrated in campus outreach efforts? Where, on campus and beyond, would messaging reach first-gen students?

In addition to finances, first-gen students are sometimes hesitant to leave the “comfort” of the college community to embark on an overseas experience. The New York Time’s recent piece entitled First-Generation Students Unite, describes a national movement, primarily among the more elite US institutions of higher education, where first-gen students are “coming out” on their college campuses to create communities of belonging. On many campuses across the country, institutional culture assumes that students understand how to navigate the college environment. For first-gen students who may not have been previously exposed to college life through family members, navigating the college environment and its many unspoken norms can be overwhelming and even isolating. Programs such as the federally-funded TRIO program and the POSSE Foundation are including community-building components into the college experience for first-gen students in an effort to address this. These efforts often include intensive summer pre-seasons for incoming first-years to build a cohort of student and staff support that can be accessed throughout a student’s college career. As demonstrated in the New York Times article, first-gen students are also forming their own student groups, even across campuses, to create this needed community. With this in mind, education abroad can seem like a step in the opposite direction, potentially severing ties with a close-knit community on-campus. Study abroad can be intimidating and possibly even threatening, especially when time and effort have been invested in cultivating a supportive community on-campus.

These represent only a few things international educators may consider as we work to provide access and support to the first-gen communities on our campuses. How are we adjusting our messaging and support to address implicit bias? What do we currently understand about first-generation college students? Where do we need to invest in further research? What cohort or other community-supportive models for study abroad may appeal to first-gen students?

Tags:  Education Abroad Diversity  first generation students  inclusion  Study Abroad 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
Page 1 of 4
1  |  2  |  3  |  4