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Mentor Advice

Question

What are some approaches you used to make study abroad a reality for a student from a diverse background who most likely would not have done so?

6 Replies from Mentors

  • mentor picture LaNitra Berger
     
    LaNitra Berger
    Senior Manager of Research and Policy
    NAFEO
    Funding is usually the most significant barrier for students. I have helped students locate...
    Funding is usually the most significant barrier for students. I have helped students locate funding for their study abroad programs and helped them to convince their parents that their experience would be worthwhile. Even though a student may have secured funding for their program, they may still have to come up with money up front to buy plane tickets or apply for a passport. These fees can be substantial and can prohibit a student from participating in a program. Also, many students rely on the support of their family and their community to help them get an education. I always encourage students to reach out to this same network for study abroad support. Neighbors, friends, and local businesses all have a stake in student success, so they are often willing to offer financial support to students if they understand how study abroad fits into their career goals.
  • mentor picture Kenya Casey
     
    Kenya Casey
    Study Abroad Advisor
    Emory University
    I share my own story about studying abroad and the obstacles that I encountered. I also...
    I share my own story about studying abroad and the obstacles that I encountered. I also educate students about the resources that are available. Students like to hear from other students, so whenever possible, I try to connect a former study abroad student with a student inquiring or hesitant about studying abroad. Hearing the study abroad perspective from another student is important.
  • mentor picture Yating Haller
     
    Yating Haller
    Assistant Director
    Global Engineering Program, Purdue University
    During a study abroad fair at my former institution an African American student and her mother...
    During a study abroad fair at my former institution an African American student and her mother were walking by and I engaged them in conversation about studying abroad. It was clear that the student had interest but her mother had serious concerns. I did not let her go at that time. I gave her my card and ask her to drop by my office for a chat. We did not talk about study abroad programs at all, but just life in general. We had a lovely 30 minute chat, and I remember thinking, "This is great, it has been a long time since I sat down and REALLY got to know a student, rather then just process the students through the advising session. I became her mentor, and she started to hang out at my office quite a bit. Of course, her interest for study abroad grew stronger as she saw me interacting with other participants. I asked her mom to give me a call (relaying the message through the student) and had a good chat with her mom over the phone. The student ended up studying at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan, and had a wonderful growing experience. Sometimes, it really takes one student at a time.
  • mentor picture Tony Laing
     
    Tony Laing
    Ph.D. Candidate at Education Policy Studies and AFRO Studies
    University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign
    In my present position as Diversity and Program Exchange Advisor at Massachusetts College of Art...
    In my present position as Diversity and Program Exchange Advisor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, I have hosted a luncheon for students of color, as a way to generate interest in study abroad. In addition, I routinely talk with students – especially students of color - about study abroad options, including working with some to locate scholarships for their respective study abroad programs.
  • mentor picture Malaika Marable Serrano
     
    Malaika Marable Serrano
    Assistant Director of Global Communities
    University of Maryland
    I think it’s important to understand where the student is coming from and listen to their concerns...
    I think it’s important to understand where the student is coming from and listen to their concerns about studying abroad. They could have misconceptions (e.g. must speak a foreign language in order to study abroad) or legitimate concerns (e.g. financial aid, transfer credit, fears or racism or anti-American sentiment abroad). I’ve spoken with students one-on-one and in groups about these issues. Since many historically under-represented groups never come into the study abroad office, I seek them out!
  • mentor picture Anthony Yuen
     
    Anthony Yuen
    Outreach, Communications & Marketing
    Summer Sessions, Study Abroad & Lifelong Learning
    It's critical to understand that while a student may share many qualities with others from the...
    It's critical to understand that while a student may share many qualities with others from the same or similar backgrounds, each student is their own person and advisors should not make assumptions based solely on students' background. Advisors must qualify students individually, and recognize each student as a whole person with their student status being just one element of their makeup.

    Because students often have multiple roles, identities, and perspectives, I've found more often than not the decision to study abroad rests not only with the student, but with many other "stakeholders" in the process (parents, friends, employers, advisors). In order for study abroad to be fully realized, it's been helpful to explore these relationships and to help the student be able to sort through the various expectations, support, beliefs, desires, and obligations that can influence their decision-making process.

 
 
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