Before I worked at MIUSA on the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange project, I advised hundreds of international students coming to the U.S. to learn English at a major university. Although I also managed the admissions process, I rarely saw students with disabilities come through. I was waiting for them to reach me.
While students may have established academic accommodations at their U.S. institutions, when they choose to study abroad they also choose to accept the challenge of studying in a new educational system that may or may not offer the same accommodations.
This NAFSA: Association of International Educators sponsored Collegial Conversation was a live chat on November 10, 2016, to respond to questions from the field on what is required and possible in making arrangements for U.S. study abroad students with learning disabilities or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Here, we asked people with disabilities to share their tips for what international education organizations can do to fill jobs, internships, or practicum positions with talented professionals and interns with disabilities. You might notice that many of these tips also apply to including people with disabilities as participants in your international exchange programs!
As part of our ongoing work on the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) project, we reach out to professionals in the international exchange field - from study abroad advisors to program administrators to faculty leaders - to broaden their understanding of disability inclusion and access and how it can increase the diversity of their participants.
Rebecca Berman is about to achieve a significant milestone: her one-year anniversary working with World Learning is fast approaching. Since learning about the organization's work in international education and development as well as its commitment to disability inclusion, Rebecca knew it would be a good fit for her. Over the past year, she has come to appreciate the importance of finding balance in various aspects of her work.
Working virtually out of Michigan, Juanita is a long way from her supervisor in Colorado and her colleagues operating out of Massachusetts and Texas. Yet, from Juanita's perspective, the collaborative way in which the team works together seems to diminish the distance between them.
"What I really like about my co-workers is that they connect and communicate; they can really relate to people, and honestly that's why I studied abroad with them in the first place."
In Washington, D.C., there is no shortage of international exchange organizations working to promote intercultural understanding and citizen diplomacy, but Sarah Amin was drawn to Cultural Vistas in particular, remarking on their enthusiastic staff who seemed open and flexible to creativity and fresh ideas.
With the busiest season just behind her, Shannon Kelly reflects on the role she and her colleagues played in the experiences of over 2000 students from around the world who arrived in the U.S. this summer through Spirit Cultural Exchange, where Shannon works as an intern:
"These students are thousands of miles away from their families and friends; we're here to be advocates for them."
We had a full room of attendees on Friday, November 18, 2016 at 10:30 - 11:45 am to discuss growing trends in education abroad to attract a greater number and diversity of students, including those with disabilities. These trends focus on making education abroad interesting, and of interest to, traditionally underrepresented groups, and by targeting these diverse groups and including faculty/staff in the planning, it results in more participation.
The UN CRPD is a powerful tool for implementing law and policy for women with disabilities at the regional, national, and international levels. It is nevertheless true that many women with disabilities, States Parties, and even NGOs lack the experience and resources for developing and implementing relevant articles of the UN CRPD into concrete action.
The benefits of learning a foreign language have been well documented. It leads to greater employability and cultural competence. It can also enhance one's ability to learn in all sorts of areas.
Learning a language can offer unique advantages to people with disabilities as well, such as enabling a blind person to experience a destination through the verbal descriptions of folks they meet along the way, or facilitating the independence of a wheelchair user as they direct the assistance of others.
For the very first time, International Women's Forum members from around the world were asked to compete to present their leading-edge ideas and inventions for building a better world—and better lives. MIUSA CEO Susan Sygall, a member of IWF Oregon, was one of three plenary speakers selected to take the stage and make lightning-round presentations about compelling concepts fitting the theme, "Ideas Remaking the World."
In the 75+ years that the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has sponsored academic, professional, cultural, and sports exchange programs between the U.S. and countries worldwide, it has led the way in ensuring that people with disabilities are included and represented in citizen diplomacy.
The Brilliant & Resilient photo exhibition displayed at the World Bank for two weeks in September 2016. The exhibition event launched on September 21, 2016 with a reception and panel discussion on how women with disabilities across the globe are working as change agents to empower women and girls with disabilities in their communities.
Mobility International USA (MIUSA), in partnership with three leading U.S. organizations, welcomed a delegation of 25 disability rights leaders from six countries to Washington D.C. for the RightsNow!: Exploring the U.S. Model conference during one week in September 2016. This prestigious and high-level conference was a part of the RightsNow!: Strong Communities through Enforcing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities project, funded by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State and administered by MIUSA.