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It Takes a Village: Building a Support System for Diversity Abroad


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Racial/ethnic diversity in study abroad increased 10 percent from 2004 to 2014. Despite the increase, study abroad continues to fall low on students of color’s priority list. Irrespective of their rationale for not going, students of color continue to receive fewer messages that study abroad is worthwhile. To fill this gap, panelists in this session will argue that faculty involvement – particularly faculty of color– in the planning process and while on-site is imperative. The inclusion will allow students to see themselves reflected in study abroad programs and may increase the likelihood that students will participate. This session will feature multiple perspectives to demonstrate the important ways to utilize faculty in the effort to increase student of color participation.

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It Takes a Village: Building a Support System for Diversity Abroad

  1. 1. IT TAKES A VILLAGE: BUILDING A SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR DIVERSITY ABROAD Neal McKinney – DePauw University, Dr. Leigh-Anne Goins – DePauw University, Erica Ledesma – Diversity Abroad, Quinton Redcliffe – CIEE
  2. 2. Agenda 2  Introductions/Context Setting  Framework for Inclusivity  The Faculty Perspective  The Program Provider’s Perspective  Strategies for Collaboration  Small Group Discussion  Case Study/Strategize collaborations  Wrap up/Final Questions
  3. 3. Who Are We 3  Neal McKinney – Assistant Director, Off-Campus Programs, DePauw University  Dr. Leigh-Anne Goins – Assistant Professor, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, DePauw University  Erica Ledesma – Associate Director, Diversity Abroad Network  Quinton Redcliffe - Director- Experiential Learning, CIEE Cape Town Study Center
  4. 4. Who’s in the Room?  Study Abroad Office?  Faculty?  Providers?  Others?
  5. 5. Context Setting – Study Abroad by the Numbers 5  Racial/ethnic diversity in study abroad has increased 10% from 2004-2014 from 16% to 26%  % of study abroad students of color enrolled remains well below the national average (46%)  IIE’s Generation Study Abroad campaign aims to increase the number of students going abroad to 600,000 by 2020  In order to close the gap, as a field, we have to be intentional about recruiting students of color to go abroad 83% 6% 6% 4% 1% 0% 73% 9% 8% 6% 4% 1% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% White Latino AAPI Black Multiracial First Nation Race/Ethnicity Profile of Students Studying Abroad 2004/2005 2014/2015 2004 total: 205,983; 2014 total: 313,415 (IIE, Profile of U.S. Study Abroad Students, 2016)
  6. 6. 6 “If we merely have 600,000 upper-middle-class white women going abroad, what will we have accomplished?” – Martin Tillman
  7. 7. Context Setting – Students of Color and Study Abroad 7  So why aren’t more students of color going abroad?  Getting a degree is the goal and study abroad is often seen as a barrier, not a contributor (Perdreau, n.d.)  Students of color continue to receive fewer messages that study abroad is worthwhile (Woodruff et al., n.d.)  Therefore, in order to mitigate these factors and increase support for students of color abroad, a synergistic collaboration among various stakeholders has to be the focus
  8. 8. Framework for Inclusivity 8  Messaging (access)  Student Support (inclusion)  Creating an Inclusive Climate (systemic approach)
  9. 9. Creating Access for Students of Color 9  The Five F’s  Finances  Academic Fit  Faculty and Adviser Support  Fear  Friends & Family  Differentiated Approach
  10. 10. Creating a Sense of Belonging for Students of Color 10  Connection between access & inclusion  Build upon a notion of belonging  When students feel disengaged, faculty can fill the gap
  11. 11. Creating an Inclusive Climate 11 Faculty must be prepared not only to avoid tacitly condoning microaggressions and racism, but to be proactive in creating a safe climate for all students to both enjoy and maximize their learning abroad. This is an example of an area where internationalism, U.S. domestic diversity, and campus climate issues converge. Unfortunately, the intercultural communication skills and eager curiosity about other cultures that are common among international education practitioners may fall short if they are not also equally equipped with the specific awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to effectively navigate the loaded racial and other socio-cultural dynamics of the United States domestically. --Willis - Still We Rise--
  13. 13. The Politics of Belonging  Who belongs?  Yuval Davis (2006), Harris Perry (2012)  Students of color experience racial discrimination on campuses (Strayhorn 2012)  Students of color use social media and networking sites to engage with peers and attempt to create safe spaces (Boyd 2012; van Dijck 2013; Strayhorn 2012)  Safety, belonging, contesting spaces  Micro-Aggressions, Symbolic violence and Emotional ‘Stress’
  14. 14. Renegotiating Belonging through Mentoring 14  Role of mentors in student success  (Ong et al. 2011; Malcolm and Malcolm 2011; Fries-Britt and Snider 2015)  Transnational Mentoring 
  16. 16. 16 51 58 66 401 387 398 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 2013 2015 2016 Cape Town Student Enrollments Students of Color White Students
  17. 17. Factors Affecting Students of Color Abroad 17  Cultural Difference – How different is this place to home?  Ethnocentrism - The more racist, sexist, and in other ways prejudiced the host culture, the more intense the experience. “People talk about race all the time.”  Language – Your race often determines your language. Xhosa or Afrikaans.  Cultural Immersion – students in the UCT Dorms/Homestays  Visibility/Invisibility – Do I look different or do I sound different?  Status – Am I just another loud, rich white American  Power & Control – Does being an American give me more or less control?  Expectations – What were my expectations coming into this experience? How is it different now?
  18. 18. Strategies to Support Students of Color before Abroad  Pre-departure orientations focused on navigating identities  Ideally for both faculty leaders and also for students  Leverage programs that have content/locations that are supportive of students of color  Including faculty-led programs specifically targeting topics related to race/ethnicity  Attend students of color/underrepresented groups - active and engaged mentorship keeps students of color on college campuses  Create budgeting/finance workshops to help promote affordability
  19. 19. Strategies to support Students of Color while Abroad 19  Have regular “REFLECTION” session with student  Have regular “TOPICAL TUESDAY” talks. Race, Class and Identity  Expose your students to Positive Images of Marginalized Communities. Intentionally choose excursion that will create awareness  Get your students to do responsible volunteering. They are part of the “Non Poor” and have a responsibility to the poor  Encourage dialogue between students on issues of Race, Class and Identity in America
  20. 20. Strategies for Supporting Students of Color After Abroad 20  Intentional debriefing about experience with staff, other students, and faculty  Allows students to process experience especially in regards to positive and negative experiences  Especially important to include affinity offices  Provide opportunities to share experiences publicly  Blogs, international education week, classrooms  Include in outreach efforts  Alumni panels, advising
  21. 21. 21 Questions?
  23. 23. Case Study #1 On a faculty-led program, students arrive at program location in South America where the housing is located at the top of a rather steep hill, but the vehicles park at the bottom. The host families come to meet the students and one family offers to carry the heavy bags of the white students. The white students let the family (a mom and 2 older children) carry the heavy bags, while the students carried their light luggage. Two students of color in the group noticed this and let the students know they should not have done that, instead indicating they were able to carry their bags. The white students did not understand why it was a problem, although the students of color indicated the racial differences and the role of privilege. The white students told the two students of color they were “racist.” The incident was reported to the faculty leader (a white man) who chose not to address the group and instead speak to the students of color in private. This choice, and continued silence throughout the trip led the rest of the students (majority white) think that they were right. The two students of color were ostracized for the remainder of the trip.
  24. 24. Other situations or questions?
  25. 25. THANK YOU