In late November 2016, a RightsNow! team of U.S. disability experts traveled to Lima, Peru to meet with disability leaders, other leaders of civil society organizations, and government representatives. The RightsNow! team gathered information to analyze the status of implementation and enforcement of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and national legal frameworks safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities, while identifying topics for future support to promote the enforcement of national disability laws.
In October 2016, RightsNow! representatives traveled to Guatemala to meet with disability rights leaders and other key stakeholders in order to learn about the status of and priorities for greater enforcement of disability rights. Working in close collaboration with Colectivo Vida Independiente de Guatemala, a local cross-disability Disabled People's Organization (DPO), the RightsNow! team met with a range of stakeholders within the disability sector.
To advance the rights and leadership of people with disabilities globally, we must create consciousness of a shared identity and social struggle. That means we must support the goals of people with disabilities to do international exchange – to introduce them to those with similar struggles from other parts of the world and open up a forum to share solutions.
In February, MIUSA joined high school exchange students currently in the United States on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program in Washington, DC, for the Civic Education Workshop (CEW).
On any campus, you are likely to find students, staff, and faculty with disabilities studying, working, and teaching alongside people without disabilities. Imagine yourself among them, then begin your path to U.S. study today!
The celebration of women leaders with disabilities and the international traveling exhibit will feature portraits and vignettes of 30 women activists with disabilities from around the world.
The exhibition will be a space to promote networking and partnerships between women leaders with disabilities, human rights, development, and government agencies. The event will also include, as featured presenters, 25 women leaders with disabilities from throughout the country, who will be participating in the Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) - Panama.
At the annual meeting of the Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, MIUSA joined representatives of international exchange organizations to discuss trends and best practices in sponsored youth programs, including the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) and Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) programs.
As the largest organization for English language educators, TESOL International Association hosts more than 6,500 people annually from around the world at its convention. Educators at all levels attend to exchange ideas and connect with a dynamic professional community.
The NCDE has launched the #AccessLanguages campaign to encourage more people with disabilities to learn and teach a foreign language abroad, including ESL/EFL.
Students with disabilities are among those diverse groups of students who continue to be either underrepresented or underserved in education abroad, while at the same time data from the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) most recent Open Doors Survey indicate an increase in their numbers compared to previous years. In response to these trends, several institutions, organizations, and individuals are taking innovative approaches to championing disability inclusion, recognizing and valuing disability as part of diversity.
To increase the number of people with disabilities involved in international exchange, study abroad, research and volunteer service overseas, we count on the guidance and support of advocates in the fields of international exchange and disability rights and services. That's why MIUSA co-leads the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) Roundtable Consortium along with NCDE's sponsor, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
For six and a half years, Judith Heumann, an internationally-recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate, has served the United States Department of State as the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. Furthermore, since the establishment of Mobility International USA, she has strongly supported its efforts and has been an actively involved in MIUSA’s international and national programs and events.
Pinar, a Turkish high school student who is blind, received a full scholarship to study abroad on the U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. “Of course, my parents were really worried because my safety is important to them. Probably the most important thing!” says Pinar, reflecting on her experience. She lived with an American host family on weekends and stayed on campus at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind during the week.
“Yeah…that sounds interesting. Let’s do it.” I had just committed myself to spending a semester at University of California – Berkeley teaching English to Guatemalan refugees with a friend. She had found a local Bay Area-based nonprofit that helps to connect refugees from Central America with services and resources, and one of the things that they offered was English as a second language, taught by volunteers in refugee's homes.
With sponsorship from USAID/Vietnam and the Institute of International Education (IIE), Mobility International USA (MIUSA) organized and facilitated a 10‐day Study Tour in Washington, D.C. for a high-level delegation from Vietnam. In October 2016, delegates engaged in professional meetings, interactive seminars and workshops, panel discussions, site visits, and strategic planning sessions.
Mobility International USA is always looking for surveys or research in the disability or international education fields that have the potential to shine a light on the participation and experiences of people with disabilities in international exchange. If surveys ask both "Do you have a disability?" and "Did you [study, volunteer, intern, teach, research] abroad?," then we do our best to request and report on the data, so we can all learn more from the findings.