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Community Colleges and Access to Study Abroad

Posted By Trixie Cordova, Friday, April 17, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

It’s extremely important that students of all backgrounds and life experiences have access to information about going abroad. During the Go Global Tour, I travel across the country visiting colleges of different sizes, in rural and urban areas, with diverse student populations.

I am so grateful when I have the opportunity to visit community colleges. Unlike some larger 4-year colleges or universities, community colleges don’t necessarily have the same resources, professional support (for example, a study abroad office or advisor), or program options. And of course, students continue to cite financial constraints as the primary barrier, either real or perceived, to considering study abroad as an option.

The 2013 IIE Open Doors Report shows that the majority of community college students going abroad are still overwhelmingly white and female. The Institute for International Education further verifies what we all know to be true of the community college experience:

Community college populations are historically comprised of non-traditional students, including minority students, those with high financial need, and first-generation college students, all populations that currently are largely underrepresented in study abroad. If this trend is allowed to continue, these underrepresented groups will remain on the sidelines and will not have equal access to the life-changing opportunities that will prepare them for today’s global society.1

Additionally, community college students are sometimes older, work full-time to support their families, and in part choose to attend community college due to its affordability. For this reason, it isn’t necessarily a surprise to know that very few students are going abroad at the community college level.

So what kind of real solutions currently exist to support increased funding opportunities and program options that are both realistic and affordable for community college students? There are lots of state and nation-wide consortia committed to making education abroad opportunities feasible for community college students. Some examples include the California Colleges for International EducationCommunity Colleges for International Development, and the Washington Consortium of Community Colleges for Study Abroad.  

But with initiatives such as Generation Study Abroad, coupled with President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, in which he proposes making community college tuition-free for two years, it is my hope that more programs and funding opportunities with specific regard to the needs and concerns of community colleges become available.

If you work at a community college and have a success story about students from your campus, please tell us!

1Expanding Education Abroad at U.S. Community Colleges:

Tags:  community colleges  education abroad  Education Abroad Diversity  Study Abroad 

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Learning and Sharing about Diversity and Inclusion in International Education

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 10, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

In 2012, the Diversity Abroad staff set off on a track to develop a national conference that would allow international and diversity educators a space to talk specifically about how to increase access to and improve services in international education for diverse and underrepresented students. Some three years later, the Diversity Abroad Conference is going strong and provides a space to speak candidly about the challenges and opportunities related to diversity and inclusion efforts in international education programming.

The Third Annual Diversity Abroad Conference took place on March 22-24 and saw an unexpected increase in participation with a more than 60% increase in registration from the inaugural conference in 2013. With professionals representing various institutions, departments, organizations, and providers, this year’s conference was abuzz with conversations addressing challenges and sharing good practices related to access, inclusion, and diversity in international education. Sessions represented a wide range of topics that included addressing the needs of specific student populations, developing collaborative partnerships, developing inclusive advising strategies for all students, and more. The conversations didn’t stop in the sessions, though. Those who were in attendance can attest to the fact that participants carried the dialogue into the hallways and beyond the conference space!

There was also an addition to the conference this year that added an element of insight we haven’t seen at other events. The Global Student Leadership Summit, a student track to the Diversity Abroad Conference, brought 23 students from around the country together to participate in the inaugural summit. Students did not only participate in sessions focused on building up their skills, they also engaged with professional conference goers during several all conference events. They added an energy to the conversation that reminded many of us why we do what we do.

The conversations from the Diversity Abroad Conference didn’t stop after the closing reception on Tuesday, though. Many of the conference participants continued on to participate in the Forum on Education Abroad Conference just down the street, where the topic of diversity and inclusion seems to have also grown. Just since last year, the Forum’s conference schedule included an expanded offering of sessions focused on diverse student populations and institutional diversity and inclusion efforts in international education. For many of us whose work centers on the intersection of these issues, it was refreshing and exciting to see the field take a leap forward in increasing the national dialogue happening around inclusion in education abroad.

To those who weren’t able to join the conference, fret not! Resources and presentations are available in the Resource Library on the site so that you can take a look at some of the conversations that happened in March! And don’t forget, our call for proposals for next year’s conference happening in Atlanta, GA (April 3-5) will be open in May!

Tags:  Diversity  Diversity Abroad Conference  Education Abroad Diversity  global education  inclusion  Study Abroad 

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Faith Abroad: Does it Matter?

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Saturday, February 28, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

Religion & Study Abroad

Religion isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when we think about how to prepare students to study abroad; however, open pre-departure discussions about religion can greatly enrich a student’s in-country experience. A recent Gallup Poll confirms that a majority of US Americans -- at least nominally -- believe that religion can answer all or most of today’s problems. Despite the prevalence of various religious traditions throughout the United States, we tend to value individualism and privacy in this country, especially as it concerns beliefs and practices perceived to be very personal, like religion. Furthermore, our political preference for the separation of church and state, the veneration of personal liberty, and a focus on political correctness have profoundly influenced our perceptions of religion. In many other places around the world, however, religion is not perceived to be a taboo topic of conversation nor a strictly personal decision.

As students travel for study abroad, especially to places where religion is a fundamental part of daily life, it will be necessary to navigate the local customs while also honoring a student’s own personal belief system. Students from non-religious (or only nominally religious) backgrounds will benefit from a pre-departure discussion on how faith and religion are expressed in the host country. This could include a discussion of how to answer questions while in-country regarding one’s religious background (or lack thereof) as some host-country nationals may be surprised to meet someone without a strong association with religion. What are polite and culturally-appropriate ways to respond to these questions? Would debate about religion be well-received in the host country? Similarly, study abroad students with strong religious beliefs will want to consider what options are available to practice their religion in-country. How will these religious practices be interpreted in the host country? Is it safe to speak openly about these religious practices in the host country?

Owen Willis’ 2012 article published in the Journal of Global Citizenship and Equity Education entitled The Study Abroad Experience: Where Does Religion Fit?, deals directly with the intersection of religion and study abroad. Willis provides a thoughtful perspective from a development background on this important, albeit infrequently discussed, topic. At the end of the article, Willis focuses on specific pedagogical approaches that can be utilized to prepare study abroad students to fully engage with the complexities of religion in another country. Regardless of the destination, religion is often an influential component of a study abroad experience and can greatly impact the quality of a student’s educational pursuit.

Tags:  Education Abroad Diversity  religion  Study Abroad 

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High School Education Abroad and the Gap Year

Posted By Trixie Cordova, Saturday, February 7, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In my role as the Student Outreach Coordinator at Diversity Abroad, I travel to schools across the U.S., encouraging college students to go abroad. Whether it’s to study, intern, teach or attend graduate school, experiencing life in another country is always an investment in one’s future, regardless of the chosen career path in mind.

Often times, I find myself speaking with students who are exploring study abroad for the first time. As with anything new, the concept of moving to another country, whether for a summer or a year, can be pretty daunting. At the very least, I find that relating the idea of moving away from home to go to college and living on campus, can produce similar fears or hesitancies -- Will I make new friends? How will I get around? Will I have to deal with racism or stereotypes, and how will I respond to those interactions?

I’m most excited in my job when I get to engage with these students because their curiosity and interest are extremely genuine, open and honest. Exploring the field of study abroad isn’t something every student will entertain, so getting the opportunity to introduce students to the idea of going abroad, and building a globally-minded future is why I love what I do.

At the same time, I recognize how much more valuable this conversation COULD be -- were it to be held at the high school level. How many students are we failing to reach and impact because they didn’t have access to a college education, and therefore a space where they can explore these options and ask questions?

For this reason, I’m very passionate about increasing outreach efforts aimed at high school students. So much so that I focused my master’s thesis on what I called “Critical Study Abroad”. I advocated for increased global opportunities for high school youth, specifically those that are from the communities we identify as being underrepresented in study abroad: students of racial/ethnic minorities, first generation students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, students with high financial need, etc. However, I didn’t advocate for just ANY global experience. Because my degree in International Educational Development includes a concentration in Peace Education, I argued for the incorporation of Peace Education concepts into the global experience. Basically, this means encouraging high school students NOT to fall into any “voluntourism” pitfalls, but to make meaningful connections with local communities, and to develop a globally mindful relationship with local people and resources to create a truly transformative experience for both themselves and the host community.

There are many factors that would impact a students’ desire and preparedness level for uprooting themselves from what is comfortable and familiar, to picking up and moving to another part of the world for any length of time. However, I believe that the earlier students are encouraged to explore global opportunities, the sooner they will develop a more worldly perspective and recognize how their role as global citizens will make a positive impact on the future. Check out the High School Study Abroad & GAP Year Guides as well as other High School Study Abroad Programs on the new DiversityAbroad.com.

Tags:  education abroad  Study Abroad 

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5 Students Awarded Scholarships to Study Abroad This Summer

Posted By Administration, Saturday, May 17, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Each year, the Diversity Network awards students attending our member institutions scholarships to support their study abroad experience. We are excited to announce that we were able to award five $500 scholarships to students from five of our Network Institutions. Not only do our scholars represent a diversity of institutions, majors, and class standings, their destinations are equally varied.


2013 Diversity Network Summer Scholarship Recipients

Michael Nguyen, Film & Media Arts, Temple University, China

Vanessa Murray, Music, University of Georgia, Costa Rica

Isaac Anguiano, Finance, Michigan State University, Germany

Dyan Castro, Architecture, University of Michigan, Japan

Kimberly Knight, Psychology, UC San Diego, France

The quality of submissions we received this year was exceptionally high and made selecting this year’s awardees particularly challenging. Applicants were asked to submit videos responding to the question “How will international study and travel prepare you for the future?”

Each of these students will be blogging about their experience and sharing photos and videos on DiversityAbroad.com. We hope to see more of your students applying for future scholarships with Diversity Abroad! You can follow the students’ blogs at Blogs.DiversityAbroad.com/. 

Eligibility for the Diversity Network Scholarship is just one of the many benefits of becoming a Diversity Network member. To learn more and to join us as we advance diversity and equity in international education, please visit us on the web at https://diversitynetwork.site-ym.com/page/joinus.

Tags:  Funding  Scholarships  study abroad 

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