Webinar - Never Too Early: Youth with Disabilities Abroad

Large group of young students, including students with disabilities, pose among many tall trees for the camera with arms in air.
Every year, people with different kinds of disabilities study and volunteer abroad, but how do they do it?
March 26, 2021

In the last week of March, join the NCDE to hear from a panel of individuals with different disabilities who studied or interned abroad as young adults. NCDE project coordinator Justin Harford will talk with them about the opportunities for young disabled people to study or volunteer abroad, how they made it work and what they personally have gained from their times abroad.

Event Details: 

  • Date: Friday, March 26, 2021
  • Time: 10 AM (Los Angeles)/1 PM (New York)
  • This webinar will be live-captioned and have ASL interpretation


Michelle She

Michelle (she/her/hers) is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments at DC Public Schools, where she has the privilege of working with students ages 4-21 on subjects such as braille, assistive technology, independent living skills, and career development. Michelle studied abroad in Germany as a high school student through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange in 2012, served in Taiwan as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) through the Fulbright Program in 2016, and worked in Hong Kong as a part of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth for the past 4 summers. Besides teaching, Michelle is passionate about creating inclusive products, writing poetry, and ensuring accessible travel for everyone. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science in Child Studies/Second Language Studies and a Masters in Special Education.

Samsara Counts

Samsara (she/her/hers) is a software engineer, researcher, and diversity in tech advocate passionate about creating ethical, accessible technology for all. She works as a Software Engineer for Amazon in Seattle, implementing privacy guarantees for Alexa AI. Prior to working at Amazon, she spent a year in Germany as part of the 36th Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) Program. During her time in Germany, she worked as a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, studying fairness mechanisms in AI. Samsara graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Math with a minor in Creative Writing. She is a 2018 Google Lime Scholar and spoke on a panel of CS students with disabilities at SIGCSE 2018. Her research in the field of AI for social good has received Honorable Mentions for the 2018 and 2019 NCWIT Collegiate Awards.

Ana Sikhashvili

Ana (she/her/hers) is 19 years-old, from the Republic of Georgia. Now she studies at Ivane Javakhishvili's Tbilisi State University, on the faculty of Bachelor of Political Science. She is the alumni of Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program, which means that she spent one high-school year in Minnesota USA. After coming back to Georgia she started to volunteer more and became a Young European Ambassador, which is a volunteering initiative. She often organizes projects which aims to spread awareness about people with disabilities in Georgia. For now she is planning to organize one more project which will help blind or visually impaired people to gain social skills and get more information about self advocacy. Mostly, she tries to volunteer, because it is very important to show the community how important is to volunteer. She also gained national award of volunteering.

In the future she is planning to become a politician but it's still a bit early so she hasn't made a decision about it exactly.


Justin Harford

Justin (he/him/his) is a Program Coordinator with the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, working to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange by providing information and resources to both individuals with disabilities and international professionals.  Previously, Justin worked for two years in disability community organizing and policy in the foothills of Northern California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Latin American History and Spanish Literature from University of California, Berkeley. He studied abroad at the Pontifical Catholic University in Santiago Chile, where he researched and wrote a thesis on the history of the blind in Chilean society. In 2008, he spent 10 weeks immersing himself in the culture and language of Michoacan, Mexico. 

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is a project of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA.

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