In recent years, we at the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange have been taking a closer look at how disability intersects with other identities in the context of international exchange experiences.
"I have seen many posts online highlighting why studying abroad can be an enriching opportunity for anyone," writes Emely Recinos, author of the blog Thinking Disability Overseas, "but I want this post to be specifically about why people with disabilities have so much to gain from studying abroad."
"If you have a disability, I especially encourage you to lend us your strengths and to contribute to our collective depth of experience." - Collin Walsh, Pickering Fellow
MIUSA: Tell me a bit about your previous international exchange experience. What role do you think this international experience will have in your career?
You include these young people in opportunities to live with host families and study in U.S. high schools for a year, opening a world of possibilities that they may not have envisioned.
As I near the end of my fall internship with MIUSA, I am filled with gratitude for the wonderful opportunity to support this amazing organization, championing in international development and exchange while fostering leadership among people with disabilities.
For years, the annual Open Doors survey has provided a snapshot of the participation of college students with disabilities and other diverse identities in U.S. study abroad programs. Now a survey from Diversity Abroad is adding to the picture of how diversity is represented in education abroad by inviting international educators to self-identify.
"Travel has been haulted due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak."
"This conference has been cancelled due to the global pandemic."
These were common headlines staff were seeing across all sectors. These were also headlines not only event-goers were monitoring, but also event planners, such as ourselves for our originally planned Joining Hands Symposium in Washington, DC for July 2020.
And the questions began:
"Do we cancel, postpone, or turn our onsite event into a virtual event?"
Myth 1: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only applies to Americans.
FACT: The ADA is a territory based law, which covers everybody who happens to be on U.S. soil. Citizenship does not matter.
That’s because international experience can lead to growth in personal areas like empathy, cultural competence and acceptance of difference that can transfer to the workplace. It can also result in the growth of skills directly related to employment like teamwork, problem-solving and creativity.
Here are some of the many ways that studying or volunteering abroad can give you an edge on your next job application, and prepare you for a more meaningful career.
In new cultural contexts, you may find that how local people perceive you is different from how you're perceived at home and even from how you perceive yourself. Certain aspects of your identity may be more "visible" or stand out more than others. This could be positive, negative, or neutral. Flattering or frustrating. You might find that the aspects of your identity that are most salient to you - perhaps race, cultural heritage, or disability - seem to be overshadowed by your nationality or perceived wealth: