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What it Is
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
Recipients are awarded up to $5000 (or $8000 including the Critical Need Language Award) to be used toward the cost of study abroad or international internship programs.
By the time Katelyn Parker, a student with cerebral palsy, enrolled at Kirkwood Community College (KCC) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she had already traveled quite a bit. Highlights included mission trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa. These early experiences left her with a passion for international exchange.
More and more students find that community colleges are an affordable way to obtain a college degree. In states like Maryland, disabled students even have the option to seek a tuition waiver on some community college classes. Community colleges realize the value of serving a broad range of students and offering options including technical and general education: two-year and four-year degree programs.
There are a variety of methods to cover the costs of a personal assistant. Disabled travelers may save up money through work-study. A community fundraiser using an online tool like GoFundMe can also be a good way to find funding.
Showing that the international exchange is part of an Individualized Employment Plan (IEP), an exchange participant might get funding from The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation for a personal assistant.
In the summer of 2018, Shea Megale, a woman with spinal muscular atrophy type II who uses a power chair, participated in the first-ever Czech Republic filmmaking program organized by Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA).
Students from NOVA flew to Prague, then traveled south to the town of Pisek, where they were mentored by acclaimed Czech filmmakers at the Film Academy of Miroslav Ondricek and engaged with Czech students to produce short films.
For many years Chynna had been curious about the world outside of the United States, but she was also scared of what she might find. She had grown up thinking that the world is an unsafe place full of danger at every corner. She also had her hands full in Madison, Wisconsin. As a deaf black woman with a cochlear implant, she would have to work three times as hard to prove herself to others and to get ahead.
"We have small class sizes and faculty spend a lot of time focused on teaching." - Alex Peterson, Director of the Center for Global Engagement at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah.
When Justin, a man with left hip dysplasia, did not make it into the University of Hong Kong, he was in good company. Since the government fixes the number of spots available for local students enrolling in the highly coveted public university system, space is limited. In a given year, only around 20% of applicants make it. That means 80% don't.
For Anna, a woman with Down syndrome from Sweden, study abroad runs in the family. Her sister studied in Argentina, and her brother studied in the United States. It was only natural that she would also want to study abroad, and she strongly advocated with her family to support her in doing so.
“They support me very much. They are proud and happy for me. I call them every Saturday and sometimes on Sundays.”