By venturing to other countries, people with disabilities have demonstrated to themselves - and the world - that they are independent and successful, resilient and adaptable. They've gone on to work in the fields of law, disability advocacy, international education, journalism, and more. Their stories show how international exchange can be a profoundly transformative experience for those with disabilities—and their careers, skill sets, and personal development.
The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange calls on international exchange alumni with disabilities to reflect on the long-term impact of their past exchange travels between the U.S. and other countries in support of a new initiative, #LifeAfterExchange.
What People with Disabilities are Saying About Life After Exchange
Carla, who is blind and studied foreign languages in Egypt and Spain:
“I have become quite open-minded and adaptable to new and challenging environments [because of my experiences overseas]. I have become culturally sensitive which has allowed me to carry out workshops and activities with very vulnerable groups of people." Read Carla's story.
Shonda, a wheelchair rider who participated in a professional exchange:
"In the classroom, I am now able to share my experiences with my students and to encourage them to travel internationally. Furthermore, I have discovered that my positive experiences in the UAE have helped to dispel preconceived notions of the Middle East." Read Shonda's story.
Argiroula, a Deaf Fulbright alum from Greece who studied in the United States:
"I went home with a renewed commitment to encourage human rights for Greek Deaf citizens by working with the governing administration to achieve some of the accommodation ideas I had discovered abroad." Read Argiroula's story.
What We Have For You
Are you living proof that people with disabilities have a lot to gain by going abroad?
If your experiences studying, volunteering, interning, researching, and more in another country led to exciting opportunities for you down the road - perhaps a great career, entry into grad school, life-long friendships, or new leadership positions - we want to know about your #LifeAfterExchange!
- Create Your Customized #LifeAfterExchange Postcard
- Tell us about your exchange experience in this "Be Our Next Featured Traveler" form and we'll create a story and pin it on our StoryMap
- Share our Blog: "6 Signs it's Been Too Long Since Your International Exchange"
- Stay tuned for Ripple Effects Podcast Season 3, in which your host Justin Harford catches up with exchange alumni with disabilities whose time abroad left a lasting impact on their lives.
- Use the hashtag #LifeAfterExchange on social media when describing the doors that opened up to you once you went abroad.
More Resources for Connecting Disability, International Exchange and Employability
- How Studying Abroad Boosts Employability of Students with Disabilities
- Attend the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit
The National Clearinghouse on Disability & Exchange (NCDE) 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 between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). clearinghouse [at] miusa.org (subject: Questions%20about%20) (Contact our Clearinghouse Team to Learn More!)