A recent interview with Diversity Abroad founder, Andrew Gordon, could be summarized as follows:
'Addressing inclusivity in study abroad must be holistic. We have to bring a global mentality into U.S. classrooms to encourage study abroad and show its tools. Scholarships are just one piece of the puzzle. Fears related to the experience abroad and how students will be received in a host country are obstacles. Family fears become barriers at times, too. A message to students: figure out who are your allies on campus – seek people out and build relationships.'
There are institutional barriers that limit access to study abroad programs, preventing programs from being inclusive and diversity. Some of these barriers are in-country (meaning, in the host country where the students will eventually travel to) and that is where Blue Sage is focusing its energies and where questions emerge:
Why can’t we build programs (or enhance and expand them) specifically so that they are inclusive? In terms of in-country development: how do you build, enhance, or expand programs so that they are diverse?
Based on years of running diverse programs for U.S-based students in Brazil, scholarship programs for Latin American governments, and building new programs from the ground up, I’m using this Blue Sage blog space to start answering those questions. Please join the discussion!
I believe that if we take concrete in-country steps to make programs more supportive of the interests and well-being of diverse groups, then programs will 1) be stronger for all groups, including ‘majority’ groups, 2) they will be become more dynamic and incorporate new tracks of study and perspectives, and 3) these programs will attract excellent students who want to make the most out of the study abroad experience.
In short, the Blue Sage perspective is that unequal access to these life-changing programs can be remedied by focusing our attention on the programs themselves and the in-country supports. From there, with revamped in-country programing, we can support projects via scholarships and work on improving marketing and advertising.