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I Want to Go THERE! Don’t You?

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Are you a person with a disability? MIUSA CEO Susan Sygall wants YOU to go abroad! In this blog post, Susan shares some study abroad options through CIEE (including scholarships!) as well as her personal tips for traveling in a manual wheelchair.

I was recently at the CIEE conference on study abroad in Paris, filling myself up with chocolate croissants as I met so many amazing people who run CIEE’s study abroad programs around the world. As they described the programs’ accessibility features and some of the students with disabilities they have hosted in the past, it just made me think, “Oh my goodness; I want to go THERE!”

I would love to study in Edinburgh, Berlin, London and more. And beyond Europe, they have so many study centers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. When I heard about all of the scholarships that CIEE offers both for people from the United States who want to go abroad, as well as for people who want to come to the U.S. from other countries, I just kept asking myself, “So where are all the people with disabilities?”

Why aren’t more people with all types of disabilities applying for these programs, especially when there are sometimes full scholarships or partial scholarships?

Those who use wheelchairs or who have physical or mobility disabilities may be especially interested to know that many of the newest CIEE study centers are being built with accessibility in mind. Of course, people with disabilities have the right to apply to any program that they are passionate about, whether it is accessible or not. This is “challenge by choice,” and it is most important that people who go abroad find a place that speaks to their heart and soul.

When I heard about some of the new wheelchair-accessible features at the Edinburgh study center as well as those in Berlin and Paris, I just wanted to let people know about them! Most importantly, I want people to know all about CIEE’s many scholarships, so here they are! Don’t take another moment to procrastinate – look through these opportunities and imagine yourself there. Imagine someone you know or someone you’re advising going there. Then contact CIEE for more information! The more people with disabilities are aware of incredible opportunities like these, the more we can increase the representation of people with disabilities in all types of international exchange.

I encourage each of you to follow your dreams – especially when scholarships are available!

Susan’s Tips for Traveling with a Manual Wheelchair

One of the highlights of my own life was cycling through the outer Hebrides of Scotland, with my electric tricycle towing my wheelchair behind me.

I’ve also traveled to places such as Edinburgh and Prague, where I needed to navigate cobblestones or other rough terrain while getting around in my wheelchair. You may have to do the same! For those situations, I highly recommend getting an attachment for your wheelchair, such as a FreeWheel, which allows a person’s wheelchair to easily maneuver over cobblestones.

Traveling in a manual wheelchair typically requires a lot of arm strength. However, for times when I needed assistance, I brought along an electric assist device that I can quickly attach to my wheelchair whenever I need it. (Check out SmartDrive or SMOOV). It’s the best of both worlds!

Susan gives thumbs up as she sits in her manual wheelchair with Freewheel front attachment, in a desert setting with cactus and hill. Susan wears sunglasses and gloves
With her FreeWheel attachment added to the front of her wheelchair, Susan can easily push her manual wheelchair over a bumpy trail in the desert.
Susan sits in manual chair in a cobblestone square with a classical statue and three story building behind her. She uses an attachment on the front of her wheelchair that adds an extra wheel.
Likewise, Susan uses her FreeWheel to fly over cobblestone streets, like this one in Stockholm, Sweden.
Susan rides an adult tricycle, with her manual wheelchair attached to the back of it. She wears a helmet and looks over her shoulder to smile at the camera.
An avid bike rider, Susan can often be found pedaling along the bike paths at home in Eugene, Oregon (pictured here) or in faraway places like the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (pictured below). She attaches her manual wheelchair to the back of her tricycle so it follows her wherever she goes.

Susan Sygall riding adaptive bike with three wheels through meadow

Study Abroad at CIEE Edinburgh!

While CIEE has been a long-standing organization since 1947, the CIEE Edinburgh Centre opened in 2023. Their first students arrived in January 2024. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, and CIEE is committed to making studying abroad accessible to all students.

This begins with their unique study center located in Edinburgh’s Eric Liddell Community Centre, a facility that is committed to bringing people together in the community. The building has a permanent ramp to the entrance with automatic doors, and two lifts on either side of the building.

CIEE offers a number of programs available in Edinburgh, from 3-4 week study abroad experiences, to a semester study abroad, or even an internship. You can find further information, including requirements and costs about the various programs, below.

While studying abroad, CIEE wants students to be immersed in Scottish culture both inside and outside the classroom. To achieve this, it provides a host of cultural activities and excursions. CIEE ensures that all of the activities and excursions are designed to be wheelchair accessible and that its students can participate in all aspects of the program. This semester, CIEE is excited to bring students to the Scottish parliament and learn about Scotland’s past and present politics, have a taste of traditional Scottish cuisine like haggis, and admire the scenery of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

It is important to note that Edinburgh is a hilly city with uneven cobblestones. However, public transportation is 100% wheelchair accessible. The staff at Lothian Buses work in partnerships with Whizzkids to ensure that all drivers and customer support advisors receive training on how best to accommodate those using their services as wheelchair users. Edinburgh also has a tram and two train stations, which all include step-free entrances and lifts.

Click here for further information about CIEE’s various programs, including requirements, scholarships and costs.

Accessibility at Other CIEE Centers

Find a list of city-specific resources on CIEE’s website here.

A Sampling of CIEE Scholarships

College Study Abroad Scholarships

Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship

  • Full funded summer internship program in Dublin, Ireland (immersive work placement + an academic internship course)
  • For this summer, applications are due by February 1, 2024
  • Eligibility requirements:
    • Applicant must be a current undergraduate freshman, sophomore, or junior from an accredited institution.
    • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident.
    • Pell-eligible preferred but not required.

Gilman Pell Grants

  • The CIEE Gilman Go Global Grant is a CIEE-funded award for Gilman Scholars and Gilman applicants.
  • Scholarship deadline: March 7
  • Gilman Scholarship applicants can also receive a GAIN Travel Grant up to $1,500 toward program airfare.
  • Eligibility:

Study Abroad Scholarships

High School Study Abroad Scholarships

High School Study Abroad

  • Academic Merit Only scholarships
    • Covers $500 from tuition costs.
  • Academic Merit + Financial Need scholarships
    • Cover between $500 and 100% of tuition costs.
    • Parent or legal guardian financial information is needed to apply for this scholarship.

Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX)

  • A bi-lateral exchange program for German and US students.
  • Eligibility:
    • Be a U.S. Citizen
    • Have a GPA of 2.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale)
    • Meet the age requirement (14-17 years old)
  • Applications deadline is November

Bridge USA and Exchange Visitors

CIEE Global Exchange Scholarship

  • Inbound participants should speak with their international representative for scholarship opportunities.

Ambassador Johnny and Mrs. Angie Young Fellows Civic Leadership Summit

  • 4 day summit in Washington DC
  • The summit will include leadership and changemaker programming where they will develop methods for working across national and cultural barriers to overcome challenges to peace in our world.
  • Eligibility:
    • Applicants must be participants of the summer CIEE Work & Travel USA program.
    • Application submissions are typically open from April 1 through May 31.

Inbound High School Merit-based scholarships

Author: Admin

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