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Mentor Advice

Question

How do you feel you were viewed abroad?

12 Replies from Mentors

  • mentor picture LaNitra Berger
     
    LaNitra Berger
    Senior Manager of Research and Policy
    NAFEO
    It depends on where I was studying. In Europe, people were curious about the black experience...
    It depends on where I was studying. In Europe, people were curious about the black experience in America. In South Africa, blacks expressed a sense of racial solidarity and whites were interested in discussing American politics since I was there shortly after the Iraq war began. I think that people were very curious about my background. I didn’t look like they expected a black person to look, so they often assumed that I was from somewhere other than the United States. In general, people were friendly and wanted me to tell them about life in America. I had the most difficult experiences in Germany, where I experienced some “anti-foreigner” discrimination. Even though it was scary to be confronted by people who disliked me because of my skin color, my experiences made me a stronger person. And, I still had a wonderful time in Germany, where I met some of my best friends and learned a lot about the country’s history and culture.
  • mentor picture Kenya Casey
     
    Kenya Casey
    Study Abroad Advisor
    Emory University
    Each experience in the countries I visited varied. However, for the most part when I travel...
    Each experience in the countries I visited varied. However, for the most part when I travel abroad, most people do not believe me when I say I am African American. Very few people in the places that I have visited have had encounters with an African American. Hence, being educated and well traveled, I am sometimes viewed as the exception to the rule. It has been my experience that in many countries the only images that people see of African Americans is via music videos, movies and other forms of the media. Therefore I try to educate, dispel the myths and break down the stereotypes of my culture that are perpetuated in the media.
  • mentor picture Tony Laing
     
    Tony Laing
    Ph.D. Candidate at Education Policy Studies and AFRO Studies
    University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign
    I was viewed differently in each place visited. For example, in Ghana I was called a “Diaspora”...
    I was viewed differently in each place visited. For example, in Ghana I was called a “Diaspora” – Black American who had returned home; In South Africa, I was seen as a rich (privileged) black American and in Mozambique, I was called a foreigner. All three places visited yielded a different response and or opinion by some individuals. However, despite these varying views, I still had an amazing time, and learned a lot of about myself in the process during my travels.
  • mentor picture Malaika Marable Serrano
     
    Malaika Marable Serrano
    Assistant Director of Global Communities
    University of Maryland
    In all three locations, I wore my hair in long braids. Few Venezuelans wear braids and so...
    In all three locations, I wore my hair in long braids. Few Venezuelans wear braids and so many people thought that I was from Trinidad and Tobago or another Caribbean island. However, when I took my braids out, everyone thought that I was Venezuelan.

    In Brazil, I was in the North–East, which has a large population of people of African descent. I didn't speak Portuguese very well, so people assumed that I was from the U.S.

    In Australia, everyone assumed that I was American with one exception. Once, I attended a rodeo with some friends in a rural part of New South Wales. As I was walking past a group of young men, I overheard one of them say, "You reckon she's Aboriginal, mate?" This still makes me laugh.

    One of the biggest take–aways from my experience in Australia, was that I began to identify of myself as an American. Of course, people could see right away that I was African–American, but they always referred to me as "the American" and lumped me together with my white American study abroad colleagues. This was eye–opening and refreshing.

  • mentor picture Anthony Yuen
     
    Anthony Yuen
    Outreach, Communications & Marketing
    Summer Sessions, Study Abroad & Lifelong Learning
    As the son of a Chinese American father and a German mother, I've had a lot of...
    As the son of a Chinese American father and a German mother, I've had a lot of interesting experiences that have made me reflect on my own identity, heritage, and culture. For example, in Singapore Chinese acquaintances expressed curiosity over my background, asking why I wasn't able to speak Cantonese (as fourth-generation Chinese American, my father's family speaks mostly English now). At the train station in Calais, France, an elderly English woman told me I was lucky that I had "round eyes." In Turkmenistan, I escaped being identified as an American (though I doubt anyone mistook me for Turkmen). Finally, while waiting in the London tube station in 2006 with my travel backpack, a pair of English men made uncomfortable comments comparing me and the three British youth who detonated their explosive-filled backups earlier that year.
 
 
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