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Racial & Ethnic Minority Students


      People often talk about the wonderful aspects of studying abroad—how you will be exposed to things you’ve never seen before, how you will be able to connect with people from around the world, and how your thinking will change in ways you never expected. All of these claims can very much be true for any student studying abroad, but in many cases, the way the overall experience is described prior to students leaving is geared toward white students.
     Although race does not define who someone is, it can have a big impact on the lived experience of a person living in our society. A recent NAFSA report indicates that only about 5% of Americans who study abroad are African American or Black, 8.6% of American students who study abroad are Asian, and almost 12% are Hispanic/Latino, while 68.6% are white. 

     The low numbers of students from different races and ethnicities who study abroad means that students with those identities often miss out on all of the benefits that studying abroad can provide, including the resume boost and eventual job prospect that often comes with the experiences students get while abroad. 
     For many students of color, knowing that they may not see someone who looks like them, or else see very few people who look like them while they are abroad, may create a large disincentive to go. The following are links to resources specifically written for or about students of color abroad, as well as resources that provide insight into the real, lived experiences of American students of color while abroad:*

Being an ALLY for Race and Ethnicity Abroad 
Being an Ally
     To stand in solidarity and support of those who are students of color, the first thing you need to understand is that if you are a white person who grew up in this society, you have benefited from the systemic oppression of people of color and you have racial privilege.

This is not to say that you’re a horrible person, and it's not a condemnation, but it is important to understand that as a white person in America, no matter what other disadvantages you may have grown up with, you grew up white, which has afforded you a certain level of privilege in your life.
     The second step is to understand that being an ally to people of color is not about looking like an ally.  It is not about a performance you are putting on, or something you do once and check off your ‘good person’ list. It is about actively supporting people of color in the ways that are most helpful to them. The following links provide some insight into ways of doing this:*

     If you wish to be an ally to people of color, it is important to understand the concept of “white guilt.” This is the feeling that you, as a white person, will likely feel once you start digging into all of the ways that people of color have been and continue to be oppressed in our society, and when you begin to understand that you have been complicit in this system. Although these feelings are perfectly understandable, there are certain spaces where these kinds of feelings should not be voiced, as they can be particularly harmful to people of color who have been on the receiving end of this oppression. The following links provide information about white guilt—what it is, why it is problematic to discuss it in certain spaces, and what to do when you experience those feelings:*
More resources regarding the experiences of students of color who travel abroad may be found using the following links:

Teens of Color Abroad

Diversity Abroad - Racial & Ethnic Minority Students Abroad

Northwestern University Race and Ethnicity Abroad

*Guilford College is not responsible for the content of these links and has not screened them for validity. Readers should be advised that there could be strong content or sensitive material within them. They have been included here because they may be a valuable resource for personal knowledge. Reader discretion is advised.