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Student Resource Guide - Race and Ethnicity

Race/Ethnicity GO Program Resources Page for Students
Participating in a GO program is a unique opportunity to see more of the world and to immerse yourself in another culture. For racially and ethnically diverse students, it is common to have concerns about xenophobia, discrimination, and how you will be received. As you travel, you will find that many regions of the world have unique perspectives of race and ethnicity that may be different from your own.  It is important to prepare yourself for situations that may make you uncomfortable or which are new to you. For instance, while in the US you might first be identified by your race/ethnicity, abroad you may first be identified by your nationality, as an American.

Race and ethnicity are discussed and treated differently around the world, and perceptions vary greatly based upon location. So, researching the racial and ethnic “climate” of where you are interested in GO-ing will help you prepare for a GO program with focus and intention. This guide is geared toward a student used to a typical American cultural perspective on race going to somewhere that may have its own constructions of race. It is important to research your destination - both before you apply to a GO Program and before you GO!

Check out the destination guides on Diversity Abroad; the State Department, and CIA Factbook

Questions to consider asking and researching:
  • How diverse is the location? What types of diversity exist there?
  • What access to resources do U.S. minority groups (and specifically yours) have in your host country?
  • What are the current events in your host country?  Do those impact the way in which U.S. minorities are viewed or treated?
  • If staying with a host family, have they accommodated students of your race/ethnicity before? If not, will this be an issue for you or them? Consult with your program contact/program director.
  • How might stereotypes (about people from the U.S. and your racial or ethnic group) create assumptions other hold about your identity? 
  • Are you used to being part of the minority at home but will be part of the majority abroad? How will it be to be a part of the majority abroad? 
  • Who is perceived as an ethnic or racial minority in your host country, and how is that perception different than your experience as a person of color in the U.S.?
  • How visible is the racial or ethnic community in the host community?  Are there organizations you can join or be a part of, if interested?
  • How should you react if you find something to be offensive? 
  • Consider how you may respond or react to requests from locals wanting to take your picture, touch your hair or your skin, ask potentially culturally insensitive questions, etc. In areas where locals have had minimal contact with people from groups different from their own, people, especially children, tend to be very curious.
  • Are you going to a location that is part of your family's heritage?  Remember although there is an ethnic affiliation between you and the people in your GO location, there are many cultural differences that impact your experience and the reaction from local people. 
While you are researching your GO destination, take some time to think about your own expectations and assumptions - the more aware you are about your own point of view and the more you understand about your host location, the more likely you are to understand an uncomfortable situation if it arises while away.
Helpful webpages:
  • Diversity Abroad is a platform that allows students of color to sign up and connect with other students who will be going abroad and alum as well.
  • Project for Learning Abroad, Training, and Outreach (PLATO) is a website which provides comprehensive support resources for study abroad to all U.S. college and university students – with special support for underrepresented students
  • IIE Generation Study Abroad offers a travel grant for students with diverse backgrounds. This grant applies for students going abroad for academic programs, internships and service opportunities. Students who are offered the grant are invited to become Generation Study Abroad Ambassadors
  • Leave Them Woke in Your Wake: 9 Truths for Black Students Traveling Abroad is an article is geared towards Black students and includes travel tips on subjects from hair care to interacting with locals. It also highlights the importance of studying abroad as a minority.
  • All Abroad is a site that offers advice for individualized Black, Asian, Latinx and Native American students. The advice addresses issues that many minority students face, from parental approval to finding diverse communities or communities of their heritage to connect with while abroad. 
Resource pages from other universities: