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Mentor Profile

Bio

mentor picture Carol Larson
 
Carol Larson
Director of Management, Study Abroad Office
University of Pittsburgh
Carol has worked in the study abroad field for many years and has been able to share her global passion, vision and love of seeing the world with students. To see the numbers of students who are underrepresented to study abroad... Carol has worked in the study abroad field for many years and has been able to share her global passion, vision and love of seeing the world with students. To see the numbers of students who are underrepresented to study abroad continuing to increase is the greatest reward.

Responses

  1. Study abroad is a positive way for African American students to examine their heritage because they learn about where their family came from and can explore their own identity. However, the heritage-seeking experience may be more challenging than that for other students because of pre-conceived notions that because your ethnicity is the same, your culture and attitudes will be the same. An African American student cannot simply assume that you will be welcomed with open arms - you are an American in a foreign country. Think how we in American receive foreign visitors - in most cases we see them as different from us until we have the opportunity to get to know that person for who he/she is. That same exact thing applies when you are abroad. Go with an open mind - allow yourself to absorb the culture and to adapt and to slowly become part of the culture; you will then be accepted for the person you are. Just as we in America are curious about someone from a different culture, and we hopefully want to learn about him/her, it is no different abroad - they do not understand our culture and want to learn and we as an American have an opportunity to teach them and to learn in return. Whether you are in Europe, Asia, Africa or Latin America, students in all parts of the world are curious about each others universities, music, clothing, language, dating, TV programs, sports, etc. - embrace those differences. Try to begin your journey with very few pre-conceived expectations, go with an open mind, and learn what is beautiful about another culture.

    My son, a multi-racial/African American student, has grown immeasurably from his experiences: first in the Afro-Brazilian culture, where after a short time he was a willing part of the culture; and second in China and Mongolia, where he was the object of curiosity because in many cases he was the first black man they had seen. Once the Chinese got to know him and found he had hip-hop on his IPod, a friendship was born. Understand that as these special challenges exist, study abroad can provide insights and personal growth for African American students that can open the way for educating others and accepting each other as it did for my son and other students I work with as a study abroad administrator."
    4 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  2. Answer: Studying abroad allows students to develop skills in problem solving and potentially foreign languages; they gain geographical and historical knowledge; they're exposed to people who process information differently than they do. Students can make professional contacts and gain a sense of direction for their future career. Students gain an appreciation of what we have in the U.S.; they develop confidence, a strengthened sense of personal identity, flexibility, and creativity. Students learn to rely on themselves and become more independent. Students increase their interest in other cultures, become less ethnocentric, as they become more aware of cultural differences, develop language skills within a cultural context, and become more culturally sensitive and accepting.
    25 answers – Personal
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