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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 Jessica
     
    Jessica
    Graduate Student
    Loyola Marymount University



    Watch Jessica's reflections on how coming from a multi-racial background helped her to adapt to the environment abroad.
  • mentor picture Additional Mentor
     
    Additional Mentor
    Various students and administrators
    interviewed by the Center for Global Education


    Hai, Graduate Student
    Learn about this student’s experience as an Asian American in Germany.
  • mentor picture Additional Mentor
     
    Additional Mentor
    Various students and administrators
    interviewed by the Center for Global Education


    Adriana, Student
    Hear about this student’s feelings on being an Armenian American in Europe
  • mentor picture Additional Mentor
     
    Additional Mentor
    Various students and administrators
    interviewed by the Center for Global Education


    Jackie, Student
    This student talks about her positive experience in Europe following concerns about discrimination abroad.
  • 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 Barack Hussein Obama
     
    Barack Hussein Obama
    44th and current President of the United States
    United States
    I know that the stereotypes of the United States are out there, and I know that many of them are...
    I know that the stereotypes of the United States are out there, and I know that many of them are informed not by direct exchange or dialogue, but by television shows and movies and misinformation. Sometimes it suggests that America has become selfish and crass, or that we don't care about the world beyond us. And I'm here to tell you that that's not the country that I know and it's not the country that I love.
  • mentor picture Kimberly
     
    Kimberly
    Senior Year Student
    Loyola Marymount University
    Studying abroad in China, I felt that the Chinese were extremely friendly and polite to everyone....
    Studying abroad in China, I felt that the Chinese were extremely friendly and polite to everyone. As a growing economy, which caters to more foreigners, China was very welcoming. I was treated similarly to the local people in certain aspects. Although I am not Chinese, most people thought that I was. Therefore, as an Asian American, the local people held expectations of me. They thought that I would know the language and some of the cultural traditions. Sometimes, these expectations were frustrating because they made it more difficult to communicate with the people in my classes, stores, restaurants, etc. It was especially hard in China to state my aggravations because the people barely speak English and it is looked down upon to deny societal norms of obedience and respect. When I would speak English with my “American accent” in a local environment, such as the streets, people would stare strangely at me. I found that my Asian American friends experienced these same expectations. My advice is to just be aware that if you look like a native citizen of the country, you will possibly have to encounter expectations being held of you.
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