Monday, May 9, 2011

African-American students are increasingly travelling abroad

African Americans are underrepresented in study abroad opportunities, according to the Institute of International Education. But things are changing.

According to Jada F. Smith in The Root, international living is booming among African-American students. “Many of them have expanded their marketability by increasing their number of passport stamps with global volunteerism, education, immersion language training or professional experience.”

“I was one of eight young professionals chosen to participate in a six-month media fellowship for recent college graduates,” Smith writes. “ Résumés were compared, quiet rivalries established and pedigrees picked over.

What scored highest with this crowd was an impressive answer to the question, "So, which countries have you traveled to?" Some had spent semesters studying in Spain or a year teaching in Malaysia, along with the requisite post-graduation excursions through Europe and reporting trips to sub-Saharan Africa. As for me, well, I didn't even have a passport.

The others lived in a global community -- one that I saw as gated and inaccessible.

The problem of an un-globalized population has not gone unnoticed. In 2009, President Obama began the "100,000 Strong Initiative," a $2.25 million program intended to encourage young Americans to travel to and study in China. This past February, first lady Michelle Obama spoke to students at Howard University about the initiative and the importance of having an international perspective in a world that is becoming increasingly less U.S.-centric.

Yes, our widespread lack of international participation is so chronic that it has prompted a multimillion-dollar presidential initiative. But where our white peers may need the push to go overseas, students of color often need a shove. Blacks make up about 4.2 percent of all American study-abroad students, while 81 percent are white, according to the Institute of International Education. …

In the past, experts attributed the lack of international travel among young people of color to financial constraints, fear of racism, parents unwilling to support the decision and a lack of role models.”

Read the whole story at The Root


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