Columbia College Chicago is looking for a highly motivated and results driven person to join our team! Under the broad direction of the Assistant Provost for Global Education, the Director of Education Abroad designs and develops study abroad opportunities, exchange programs and faculty-led study abroad programs. The Director manages all aspects of the operations of the Office of Education Abroad, such as advising, risk management, communication, program marketing and timely and accurate records and data management. This position focuses on increased participation, curriculum integration, enhancement of services, including incorporating of technology, and expansion of diversity and inclusion. The role interfaces with students and their families, faculty and staff, and external partners.
The following is a guest post by Roric McCorristin. I really like Roric's piece and I find it to be very important read for colleagues in our field! I'm very pleased that I get to post his work here on IHEC Blog!
The participation of students of color in study abroad is characterized by two unfortunate trends: disproportionately low participation compared to white students, and evidence of racial micro-aggressions directed at students of color by other U.S. students who are abroad with them. These trends stand out because we wish them to be anomalies. Yet they persist over time, despite efforts to promote inclusion and diversity in international education. The good news is that we can take action to reverse these trends, especially if predominantly white institutions (PWIs) choose to prioritize addressing racial bias in their study abroad services.
According to the 2018 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education, 70.8% of U.S. study abroad participants during the 2016-17 academic year identified as white, while only 6.1% identified as Black or African American. Although the gap is closing incrementally over time (10 years prior white students accounted for 81.9% of participants and Black or African American students 3.8%), the overall snapshot provided by the Open Doors statistics still does not accurately reflect the overall diversity found in U.S. higher education.
To explain the difference in participation rates the Four Fs — fear, family, faculty, and finances — are often cited as negative factors that students of color in particular have to overcome. While the Four Fs can describe potential barriers to access, focusing too much on them invites deficit framing and devaluation of the experiences of students of color. In that sense, the Four Fs have become a way to blame access for low participation rates and deflect blame away from the servicesprovided by study abroad professionals to students of color.
PWIs in particular should think more purposefully about how to leverage the study abroad services they offer to increase participation among students of color at their institutions. Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) regularly and successfully promote study abroad and prepare students of color for the experience. However, the question of what PWIs can learn from HBCUs in terms of best practices in study abroad advising has not been extensively explored. While the successes of HBCUs cannot simply be replicated at PWIs, study abroad offices at PWIs should take the lead in pursuing this potential avenue of collaboration. By establishing meaningful relationships with their colleagues at HBCUs, PWI personnel could learn about best practices in advising strategies and pursue programming like joint pre-departure orientations.
In doing so, PWIs could address among their students the distressing and regrettable incidents of racial micro-aggressions that are committed against students of color by other U.S. students in their study abroad cohorts. Ethelene Whitmire (2019) defines micro-aggressions as “slights and condescending comments often based on racial stereotypes.” Her current book project on the history of African Americans in Copenhagen shows us that white students discriminating against their black peers while abroad is nothing new. She tells a story from 1931 about two young Fisk University graduates who, while traveling through Italy with other African American students from Hampton University, were harassed in a dining train car by a group of students from Texas.
It is not difficult to imagine the same scenario playing out today. In an interview I recently conducted with study abroad personnel at a HBCU, I learned about the prevalence of this problem. The students at this school report being less concerned about racism they will encounter in their host communities than they are about the racism they will encounter from other American students from PWIs in their study abroad cohorts. In her fascinating study of Black women who studied abroad through community colleges, Tasha Willis (2015) documents incidents of racial micro-aggressions perpetrated by U.S. peers. She also found that incidents of racial micro-aggressions from white U.S. peers were more troubling than those from the host community. In addition, Willis provides the insight that overseas programs are an expansion of campus climate, suggesting that student behavior abroad will be a reflection of typical behavior on campus. What Willis suggests, and what my discussions with study abroad personnel at an HBCU supports, is that students take their racial biases with them when they go abroad and they behave insensitively towards their peers as they might do on campus. Therefore, PWIs must take the lead in making racial and social identity more urgent priorities in pre-departure orientations. This would raise awareness of the role of social identity in the study abroad context, and address incidents of racial bias that students show towards their peers and fellow citizens while abroad.
Ironically, pre-departure orientations, which are intended to prepare students for intercultural exchange and interpersonal communication abroad, are becoming increasingly impersonal. It is common now for pre-departure orientation to take place online. We should instead be providing outbound students with more in-person contact with peers before their travel abroad begins, in order to raise their awareness about racial bias that they may encounter abroad. Collaboration between PWIs and HBCUs is one way to do this; it is in the interests of PWIs to learn from the success of HBCUs in increasing study abroad participation. Improving the quality of service at PWIs for students of color, and for all students, would be a significant first step towards closing the diversity gap in study abroad.
Institute of International Education (2018). Profile of U.S. Study Abroad Students, 2005/06-2016/17. Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors
With the passing of former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), former Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, it seems appropriate to post this brief video of him talking about the YES Program's 15th Anniversary back on January 26, 2018.
Senator Lugar on the YES Program's 15th Anniversary - YouTube
From the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program website:
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of State and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the United States. Students live with host families, attend high schools, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. Starting in 2009, the YES Abroad program was established in order to provide a similar experience for U.S. students (15-18 years) to spend an academic year in select YES countries.
Yesterday, my daughter drove our family through a blizzard to O’Hare where she is off to Lima, Peru for nine days on an exchange through her summer theater program. Will be able to post about her host family at a later date!
In the summer between 7th and 8th grade she participated on an eleven day service-learning trip to Ecuador through her middle school and you can see more about that trip here and here!
International students who are not currently enrolled at Columbia College Chicago and have completed at least one year of university may be interested in our 3.5 week "Summer Documentary Projects Intensive" program. Learn more at www.colum.edu/doc-intensive