Study Abroad For All

This year’s Diversity Education Week focuses on “Who Are We?: Defining the Wolfpack,” and aims to explore themes of diversity, inclusion and equity through the lens of social identity. The Office of Global Engagement expands on this theme throughout the year through efforts to diversify study abroad participation and integrate international students into the campus community.

These efforts recently helped NC State surpass its goal of a 50 percent increase in study abroad participation among historically underrepresented students. This increase aligns with the goals of Generation Study Abroad, which seeks to double and diversify U.S. students studying abroad.

“As part of our Generation Study Abroad commitment, we have continued to prioritize increasing access to study abroad, as it is a transformative high-impact educational experience that all students should be able to pursue,” said Kim Priebe, director of the Study Abroad Office. “We have established a new scholarship for underserved and underrepresented students, and expanded our partnerships with university and college development offices to increase the funding available for our students with financial need. We will continue to prioritize increasing access to and participation among all students.”

To further support students, Kory Saunders, International Programs Coordinator for the Study Abroad Office, helped create a workshop series on #TravelingWhile…. This series intends to continue the work of #TravelingWhileBlack, started by Dr. Blair Kelley, assistant dean for interdisciplinary studies and international programs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. #TravelingWhileBlack encourages students of Black and African American descent to travel abroad and share their experiences.

Additionally, the Study Abroad Office curated identity-based resources to foster a safe and inclusive study abroad environment. These resources cover racial and ethnic, first-generation student, and GLBTQIA+ identities and more.

“The identity-based resources were created to show people that everyone could be included in study abroad,” said Kory Saunders, international programs coordinator for the Study Abroad Office. “We want to ensure that students from diverse and underserved populations have access to our programs and that they have full access to enriching experiences.”

Students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds can learn about these and other resources during two events:

  • Going Global: Increasing Access & Support In Study Abroad Programs For Underrepresented Student Communities, taking place this Thursday, October 18 from 11 a.m.-noon in Talley Student Union, Room 4101. Participants will learn more about the Study Abroad Office’s strategic commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and how they can best support students from underrepresented groups in pursuing study abroad.
  • Study Abroad Fair, taking place this Friday, October 19 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Talley Student Union Ballroom. Participants will be able to hear from study abroad staff, faculty directors, university fellowships advisers, and the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Hear first-hand accounts of study abroad experiences from these NC State students.

Anna Davis

What role does global education/studying abroad play in creating a more well-rounded student and individual?

Having study abroad experience, or any kind of global experience, is important because it encourages you to become more open-minded. When you’re abroad, you’re exposed to so many new things; places, foods, culture, etc. Some of the new things you’ll love, and some not as much (and that’s okay, you don’t HAVE to completely love everything). Either way, this exposure lets you learn about aspects of your country, and you discover why things are a certain way. Being receptive of different ideas is really important for not only living in a world that is becoming more increasingly connected, but it’s also a good approach to have in any social situation.

Nikki Paige

Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?

My friends that didn’t feel the same way as others helped me immensely and helped to grow my confidence way beyond the level it was previously at. I learned to love myself, even if others didn’t, and since there weren’t even other Black Americans apart from one other girl, I had to find that group on my own. I also found the racism entirely different from America, because many people are ignorant and not racist necessarily since America has a history of strong racism but they don’t in Italy or other places the same way. Knowing that helped me to teach others and become my own support as well which was a learning and growing experience.

Read Nikki’s blog on being black in Italy.

Cassandra Saroza

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

As a lesbian, I was worried about going abroad since I am typically a little more masculine in dress. Luckily, I felt incredibly safe in Cyprus, and I felt like I could be open with my identity to my classmates, advisors, and directors. I think the most powerful feeling was knowing that I was a first-generation college student, though. I was the first in my immediate family to have this opportunity. I worked incredibly hard to have my whole trip paid for with scholarships. I think that my background made this experience so much more priceless to me.

Nishant Singh

What role does global education/studying abroad play in creating a more well-rounded student and individual?

I believe that studying abroad provides the opportunity for one to really put their knowledge and experiences in a new perspective. Staying in a place for an extended amount of time allows one to really understand the day-to-day life, cultural differences, views on life, and much more. For example, one of the biggest things I got to experience was the work-life balance that students had at the university. At first I was a little surprised at the standard hours and how people managed their time, but once I started to get more involved with on-campus activities I also started to adopt the schedule of the local students. Furthermore, the summer after my study abroad semester I ended up having a coworker at my internship that was a recent graduate from PolyU! I had noticed that they were trying to balance the differences in work culture the same way I was previously, and since I was able to actually understand their perspective through my experiences, I was able to help them get adjusted to America as well!

This post was originally published in Office of Global Engagement.