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Mentor Profile


mentor picture Dawn Anderson
Dawn Anderson
Housemaster at MIT and a professional photographer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dawn is a housemaster at MIT and a professional photographer. Prior to that, she was the Director of the Office of International Study Programs and the Center for Experiential Education at Northeastern University. Prior to NU, she... Dawn is a housemaster at MIT and a professional photographer. Prior to that, she was the Director of the Office of International Study Programs and the Center for Experiential Education at Northeastern University. Prior to NU, she did her undergraduate studies at Rust College in Holly Spring, MS and her graduate studies in Oxford, MS at the University of Mississippi. It was her two study abroad experiences that set her on her current path. In 1994 she studied at the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain and in 2000 she studied in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where she completed a research project on the Garinagu (black Guatemalans). These education abroad experiences, along with her background coming from a small, homogeneous community outside of Chicago, IL known as Robbins, IL, sealed her commitment to bringing what many study abroad students describe as an intense, life-altering learning experience into the classroom.

As the Associate Director of International Programs, Dawn successfully worked not only to increase the number of NU students studying abroad but played an active role in internationalizing the campus. As Chair of the NAFSA Sub-Committee on Under-representation in Education Abroad, Dawn is committed to increasing the study abroad participation of US college students by identifying and removing the institutional, financial and cultural obstacles that exists for all students but particularly for underrepresented students (students of color; with disabilities; in certain majors; from Community Colleges, HBCUs, HSIs and Tribal Colleges; males, campus leaders and athletes, etc.)


  1. 1) My immediate response is that they should be sensitive to the fact that these students do not feel it is an experience for them. That makes the outreach effort more important and needed. We have to beware of the "If we build it they will come" trap. For the most part, students of color will not come unless you make it clear that they will benefit from knowing you and becoming familiar with your programs. They are going to go to those administrators they think are safe and understand their unique concerns. If that isn't you, then work with the person on campus that these students trust.

    2) Make no assumptions as to where they want to go, the type of program they are interested or even their knowledge about study abroad in general.

    3) Keep those students of color, that do break from the ranks and study abroad, close to you. They are helpful when talking about culturally sensitive topics like hair care and racism while abroad.

    4) Also, use other allies like student leaders, financial aid directors, professors (big one), etc...
    9 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  2. Besides the opportunity to compare cultures non western influenced countries, many nontraditional locations offer a way to reap the benefits of immersion in places where the value of the US dollar is still strong. Since financial barriers exists for many underrepresented students, looking at locations off the beaten path (most popular destination for US students) could make good economic sense.
    16 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Personal – For Native Americans
  3. I studied in Guatemala,and felt safe enough to travel the around country with friends. A portion of that travel was alone and with a hired guide since I was conducting research. Since I stayed with a host family and was told what to look out for, how to pack and travel and what to expect, I felt safe. I experienced some challenging situations in my travels but the key is to be respectful of local people and their customs, read travel guides that discuss regional precautions, make copies of important documents and credit cards, don't travel with the originals if not required, and know not to stick out (for example: showing too much skin in a country that is conservative or walking around with expensive looking jewelry), etc. The goal is to try to blend in as much as possible and look like you are not new to the area.
    9 answers – Deciding On A Program – Gender – Safety Issues – While Abroad
  4. Generally yes, but it depends on what it is and your dependency on it. Ideally you want to get your doctor to prescribe enough medication to last the duration of your stay. Some countries may not have that medication because they treat whatever ailment differently. Some may have it but in a generic form so you even if you get a full supply, always bring a prescription written in the generic form. Do not forget medication and expect your parents to mail it to you because it could get stuck in customs even if it is a matter of life or death.
    2 respuestas – Health – While Abroad
  5. Part of the battle is knowing it could come and preparing students for how to respond if it does so it should be discussed in pre-departure orientation. Pairing applicants with program alumni who can share their experiences helps.
    4 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Racism – Gender – Safety Issues – For Native Americans
  6. You should always visit your doctor to determine that. Each location have different requirements that change regularly.
    1 answers – Health – Before You Leave
  7. I am a huge advocate for staying with host families for several reasons. A) They help students become familiar with their surroundings faster than if students stayed with classmates from their home institution for example. B)You can be as involved with the family as you desire. They tend to be used to hosting foreign students with various preferences and follow your lead once you understand their expectations. Some students think their rules and expectations will limit their experience and freedom but it actually provides a deeper level of understanding of what is valued there and why. If things do not work out, you can always ask the university to help you relocate. This can be more challenging and costly if you stay alone outside of the university system.
    2 answers – Deciding On A Program – Housing – While Abroad
  8. This quote pretty much sums it up "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page" St. Augustine. With approximately 6% of all US study abroad participants being students of color that confirms that this group is under utilizing an invaluable educational opportunity and continues to limit itself. It continues to be a failure on the part of educators. Administrator"s should work to remove systemic obstacles for students and professors to take and teach classes abroad. Teachers and advisors should be guiding students towards experiential education options that not only uproot them from their comfort zones but will help them develop global perspectives.
    1 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  9. My first experience abroad was as a graduate student in Salamanca, Spain. Some family members did not want me to go (not just abroad but didn"t want me to leave our city for school) but I was determined especially since complete immersion would help improve my proficiency in speaking spanish (my major). Initially, it was a bit traumatic because I experienced serious culture shock from the moment I arrived at the airport. Paralyzed by the cacophony of foreign sounds and the sight of the currency I had to use to call the hostel) I looked for something familiar. A family waiting for a loved one held a hand drawn "Bienvenido" sign with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it and that snapped me back. Despite a couple of relapse, I enjoyed Spain, the program, my family and it"s culture. I made a point of spending time with my family and the locals to get off the beaten paths. That"s when the experience became richer and more memorable. The second experience was in the highlands of Guatemala. I chose this location because it had fewer english speaking students. Again, I chose to hang out with my family and locals. I spent more time researching local customs and culture with the mixture of Mayans and Spanish heritage. I photographed as much as I could and went on my first hiking trip (up a dormant volcano) to look down into a live one. More at ease on this study abroad program, I traveled the country to see the ruins and spent time photographing the black Guatemalans (Garinagu) that lived on the coast. Always looking for the similarities and the differences, this experienced sealed my commitment to bridging people from underrepresented cultures and telling their stories because one similarity is this isolation and lack of understanding and appreciation of being affected by the same issues. I returned to Guatemala recently, as a volunteer photographer, to photograph the social initiatives of a community organization called The God"s Child Project. I followed a social worker into the mountains surrounding Antigua to document their efforts in providing assistance to the Mayan families of the children that attend their school. The photos supported fund raising efforts which is a primary income source. So as a result of my study abroad experiences, the scope of possibilities became vast and global. Leaving my home, my country provided a perspective I never could have developed had I stayed home or in the United States.
    1 answers – Deciding On A Program
  10. Find out if your school will allow you to use any financial aid to pay for study abroad credit–bearing program. Apply for campus, regional and national scholarships. Look at programs that are in countries where the value of the USD is strong so that you money can go further.
    6 answers – How to pay
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