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What About Discrimination

For Hispanic/ Latin@ American Students

Today, Hispanic students have many reasons to study around the globe, but unfortunately no place is perfectly free of ignorance, racism or discrimination. Just like at home in the U.S., you may find various levels of acceptance by some people and discrimination by others while abroad. Hispanic American students should be aware that these problems do exist in various degrees in other countries, but this should not prevent you from traveling. There may actually be opportunities for you to be a positive influence on those you meet. You should feel free to travel to your places of interest (unless there is a civil unrest that may affect your safety. Please research your destination thoroughly before you travel. You can start with the U.S. Department of State's travel warnings at http://www.state.gov/travel/). Many minority students have entirely positive experiences when exploring their roots or exploring another culture.

Hispanic students who have traveled abroad often report that their experiences abroad differ greatly from the experiences they have in the United States. Although they may encounter a few prolonged stares or what seem to be intrusive questions, the countries where this is an issue for Hispanic students are usually homogenous countries. The people they encounter may have never seen a Hispanic person and may just be curious.

Living in another country can also be a liberating experience. Hispanic study abroad returnees often report another interesting experience: Many who travel to countries in Latin America are often surprised that they are seen not as Hispanic/ Latin@ Americans, but simply as Americans. On the other hand, many people who do not see you as a stereotypical American might not treat you differently, allowing you to blend in more easily. In any case, studying abroad can certainly give you rare and unique opportunities to examine discrimination (or lack thereof) in different contexts. This may be a great opportunity for you to be both a student and teacher of cultural understanding our diverse world.

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