Study Abroad: It’s Not All Black and White

“Study Abroad: It’s Not All Black and White”

by Jordyn Holman via “Huffington Post


It’s white.

Though an unprecedented amount of American students are choosing to study abroad today, the number of minority students involved in study abroad programs is not rising proportionately. According to a recent study by the Institute of International Education, minority students make up a small percentage of people who decide to study abroad. Black students only account for five percent of students studying abroad. It seems the opportunities study abroad offers has no boundaries, except possibly for the race of students who participate in it.

I first realized this during my spring break trip to Poros, Greece. My three girlfriends and I boarded the ferry from Athens that would take us to a small island for our day trip. We wondered why everyone kept looking at us. Granted, the four of us were headed to a lesser-known island during its off-season on a random Thursday morning. But we kept getting stares.

When we docked at the island and got settled, we soon realized that along with being almost the only tourists there we were clearly the only black people as well.

As we walked around the island, every local warmly welcomed us. At a family-owned restaurant the wife and husband owner were so hospitable and gave us pita bread and dessert on the house. A waiter in another restaurant directed us to the best bars in town. The man who owned the hotel we stayed in made dozens of arrangements for us.

Yet most of the people we encountered couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that four black girls from L.A. were in Greece. I let it go. I didn’t think too much about it. I headed back to London that next day where I’m studying abroad and continued my schoolwork.

When it comes to the demographics of those who study abroad, there is a lack of representation for minority students across the board. An Institute of International Education’s study states that minority students — which includes Asian, Latino and African American students — comprise 20 percent of U.S. students who study abroad. These demographics are not representative of most college campuses. For example, at the University of Southern California, U.S. minority students make up 35 percent of the student body.

Some experts are arguing that the already small percentage of minority students traveling abroad might be remaining stagnant because of economic factors. For example, in the past school year, 92 percent of black students received some form of financial aid from the government compared to 77 percent of White students. Due to the extra costs of traveling and sometimes increased costs of living conditions — particularly in the U.K.– it lessens the likelihood for students of color to afford traveling abroad.

Jillian Baker, an African American student at the University of Southern California, said she opted out of study abroad during her junior year because the study abroad cities were too expensive and they didn’t cater to her interests.

“I couldn’t afford the programs offered for my major, such as London and China,” she said. “I didn’t want to study abroad just to say I did so.” . . .


“Move Over Summers In France, This Woman Is Changing The Face Of Study Abroad”

“Move Over Summers In France, This Woman Is Changing The Face Of Study Abroad”

by Denise Restauri via “Forbes

Eliza Pesuit likes to rock the boat. And she’s taking high school juniors with her. Eliza is the 30-year-old CEO ofGlobal Glimpse, a non-profit organization that brings students together from diverse communities — from affluent Marin County to the South Bronx — to become change agents in their local communities and beyond. Global Glimpse takes students out of their comfort zone, pushes them to challenge assumptions and shows them that they are capable of more than they ever thought possible.

In marginalized communities, too many students with leadership potential get lost before the end of high school. Global Glimpse partners with public high schools in these low and mixed income neighborhoods to deliver a program that engages students, teachers, administrators and families.

But Global Glimpse isn’t just for students from marginalized communities — it’s for everyone. Through after school workshops and a three week structured group immersion experience in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic or Ecuador, high school juniors develop confidence and life-changing skills.

And this non-profit has a sustainable and scalable business model. Global Glimpse currently partners with 50 high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City, and will launch their first programs in Chicago in the fall of 2015. It is the only organization in the student travel field committed to serving low-income youth on a large scale. Since it started in 2008, the organization has grown seven fold, served over 2000 students, and provided over $3 million in travel scholarships for low-income youth. In 2015 Global Glimpse expects to serve 750 students. 96% of Global Glimpse alumni go on to college in communities where the average college attendance rate is under 10%.

Eliza Pesuit, CEO of Global Glimpse. Photo credit Charles R Donaldson

Following is the Global Glimpse story, in Eliza’s words.

Shaking Things Up

Today’s youth learn about the world through media: TV, YouTube, facebook, twitter, etc. They grow up with the illusion of connection to a big world, but without personal experience. Global Glimpse gives students a doorway into another world while constantly tying this experience back to their lives in the United States. When you remove high school students from everything that is familiar and settle them in a developing country for three weeks, their common assumptions are shattered. Their perspectives on poverty and privilege, on the importance of education, and most importantly, on their ability and responsibility to effect change in the world change radically. They gain the ability to see and evaluate the world and their home communities with new eyes.

For example, we may have the illusion of racial equality in the United States, but American high schools are highly segregated. Global Glimpse deliberately shakes this up. Our groups are socioeconomically, racially and ethnically diverse. We’ll put a group of students from Greenwich together with a group from the South Bronx. It’s very rare for people from such diverse backgrounds to live together for an extended period time. We immerse them in a new reality and, through daily experiences and nightly reflection sessions, support them to understand each other, to recognize and respect their differences in backgrounds and views as well as find common ground.

We believe that closing the achievement gap requires not only providing low-income youth with opportunities that will set them on a path towards success, but also providing them with experiences that allow them to operate comfortably across socioeconomic lines. It is just as important for students from more affluent backgrounds to understand the realities low income communities face in this country as interntionally. . . . .


See the Beautiful Reason This Woman’s Study Abroad Photo Is Going Viral

“See the Beautiful Reason This Woman’s Study Abroad Photo Is Going Viral”

by Caitlin Scott via “Cosmopolitan


This photo of University of Montana senior Gabrielle Broere has been viewed over 1 million times, and for good reason.

Broere was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that causes physical disability, when she was just 1 year old. With crutches, Broere is able to walk short distances, but according to The Montana Kaimin, she often uses a wheelchair to get around.

Although her disability poses challenges each day, she didn’t let it stop her from missing out on important experiences in her life, like studying abroad in Greece.

“I wasn’t really sure how people were going to react to me and how helpful they would be and if I was going to get left behind,” she tells Montana Kaimin. Broere had previously been to Peru for a 10-day trip, and knew how difficult it can be to access historical sites as a disabled person.

When she visited the Aegean Sea, Broere was unable to push her wheelchair through the sand. And, without shoes and leg braces, her feet would have been unable to bear the necessary weight. So her friends decided to picked her up and carry her across the rocky beach so that she could experience the sea. One of them snapped the inspiring photo above.

Broere describes the experience as “surreal,” saying,  “I was in complete awe of where I was and what was happening.” . . .


“Blind student helps others with disabilities study abroad”

“Blind student helps others with disabilities study abroad”

by Stephanie Brzezinski via “Lanthorn

Studying abroad is often encouraged at universities, but not to all students. Oftentimes, students with disabilities have a harder time organizing a trip abroad than their peers do. Juanita Lillie, a senior at Grand Valley State University who is legally blind, is working to change that.

After talking with friends and family, Lillie decided to travel to Costa Rica. The Spanish major spent the 2013 winter semester there earning credits and having fun. While studying abroad, she lived with a host family that she said is “like a second family to me.”

“As long as I told them what I needed, they would do anything,” Lillie said. “Everyone was willing to assist me. Everyone would help everyone.”

About a month ago, Lillie started researching study abroad opportunities for other students with disabilities. She found that there wasn’t a lot of information available on the topic so she decided to create her own site for students.

Lillie created the Facebook page “Abroad with Disabilities” to encourage more universities to have more inclusivity. The page can be found at

She hopes the page will raise awareness at universities and increase recruitment, training and faculty advising for students with disabilities to study abroad.

“It is a platform to share experiences and resources,” Lillie said. “It allows students with disabilities to speak with other students with disabilities. The ultimate goal is to provide an open networking opportunity to students with disabilities despite the university they come to.”

She added that she hopes this project expands to other universities so that more students can access study abroad. She emphasized that it needs to be more diverse and inclusive of other disabilities, such as colorblindness and dyslexia.

Natalie Gomez, a GVSU Spanish professor and a friend of Lillie, also has a disability and traveled to Costa Rica. She met Lillie in their Spanish 410 class last fall and shared the idea to start researching study abroad for students with disabilities. The pair has been collaborating on the project since then.

“Our main goal is to create a network for student with disabilities interested in traveling abroad,” Gomez said. “This is an inclusive space where students can openly talk about their doubts, fears, experiences — anything pertaining to traveling abroad.”

The pair will be attending the  . . . .

“Multicultural Groups Step up Effort to Promote Study Abroad Programs”

“Multicultural Groups Step up Effort to Promote Study Abroad Programs”

by Robert Daniel Smith via “The GW Hatchet”

“When the University’s study abroad office and multicultural center pitch international education programs to minority students this year, the Black Student Union will take charge of the conversations.

Led by president Danica Brown, the Black Student Union will play a larger role than ever to encourage black, Hispanic and Asian students to participate in study abroad programs that have been historically mostly comprised of white students.

Brown, noticing a lack of student input in programming. . . . “

“New Efforts to Boost Minority Students Studying Abroad”

“New Efforts to Boost Minority Students Studying Abroad”

by Dana Sand via “USA Today”

“Kenya Casey studied abroad as an undergrad in 1997. As an African American, she noticed an under-representation of minority students on her trip.  Today, as associate director of the Center for International Programs Abroad (CIPA) at Emory University, she says the trend hasn’t changed.  The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors data shows that 78% of U.S. students who. . . . “

That wasn’t actually my experience. Actually more than half of the students on my study abroad trips were of non-Caucasian decent. In Korea, it was Korean-American students. In Japan, African-American/African International students. In China, students of Latino/Spanish/South American descent.  I’ll give you that probably half of the students in Japan and China were Caucasian, but I’m surprised at the numbers this Institute is quoting. Maybe that’s because a lot more Caucasian students go to Europe?  Still, it’s cool that scholarships are increasing!