Should African American Students Study Abroad?
With the United States leading in attracting International Students from around the world, there is a disparate proportion of African American students studying outside of the United States.
I have this ongoing discussion with leaders in education around the world. It is an anomaly as why they don't get more applications from Black students from America. The answer is complex as is understanding this country I call home, America. It is a strange bird indeed. Built on immigration with divisive debates surrounding the topic of immigration. So much of its economy would not be robust without the attractive Visa opportunities offered to immigrants. Yet, although the planes fly in both directions, less Black students are on them unless they are traveling with a religious group.
Information is Power
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For starters, one has to be aware that opportunity exists before they can determine if it is for them. In 2019, I met with staff at Temple University in Rome and learned of an amazing program for enrolled students to do their Freshman year on the campus in Rome, Italy. Although the main campus is located in Philadelphia, PA, a pretty diverse city, Black students were still under represented in this study abroad opportunity.
I went around Europe meeting with many other Universities. Each of them welcoming me and wanting very much to have this discussion so that we could partner for solutions. My biggest take away from each meeting was "Information is Power" because I don't believe the opportunities are reaching into the communities in the U.S. This is only one part of bridging this gap but it is a start.
Post Covid Study Abroad
For those of us who believes nothing takes the place of a physical encounter or as educators will put it "experiential learning", we are on pins and needles waiting to see how this is going to go. The only thing I know for sure is study abroad will not end. However, the U.S. students in general, the situation is tenuous largely because the country did not implement country-wide protocols for the response and handling of COVID-19. No matter where you stand politically, that is a fact and the primarily or sole reasons other countries are left with no alternative. Prior to the health pandemic, the discussions were more about diversity. It is my goal to keep this discussion open because in the near future we will see the rules of our 'new normal' and I would like to see more Black Students studying abroad. Stay tuned!