We are happy to announce our five Access to Exchange Externs for Summer 2020. We were excited to receive so many great applications! These Externs will each be working on their own projects including a podcast series, a video series, Zoom interviews, blog series, and a resource guide for students with disabilities.
Access to Exchange Externs
Nadia Bon (She/Her/Hers)
About: “I believe it is important to create a community of those of us who have had the opportunity to travel to encourage others to be less fearful and more adventurous when considering travel opportunities.”
Nadia Bon is a recent graduate of Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences. She received her BA with Distinction in All Subjects as a History major with a minor in Science and Technology studies. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. As a person living with cerebral palsy, Nadia is interested in what determines a person to be considered ‘of worth’ by society, especially people with disabilities, and how this determination translates into policies and legislation that impact attitudes.
Nadia spent her Junior year abroad at Oxford University studying British disability history from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, including Mental Disabilities and Asylums 1870-1930, and War and Attitudes toward Disability in the twentieth century. She has visited over a dozen countries in Europe, Canada, the Caribbean, and many states across the US.
Project: Blog series to share personal experiences during travels abroad and future plans of pursuing a Masters in Disability History at Oxford University. The blog series will include tips on travel, succeeding academically, socially, and personally as a student with a disability. The blog will be aimed at supporting people with physical disabilities, but hopefully, the advice helps people with other disabilities as well.
Bobbi-Angelica Morris (She/Her/Hers)
About: “My name is Bobbi-Angelica Morris and I am an uprising 3rd-year undergraduate at the University of Virginia. I am an African American, Indigenous, and disabled (hard of hearing) student majoring in Urban and Environmental Planning and Global Development Studies with a minor in American Sign Language. My overall focus is to create a more inclusive and accessible society for disabled people.”
Bobbi-Anglica studied abroad in New Delhi, India as an intern for the Javed Abidi Foundation which is a nonprofit disability organization focused on the accessibility and inclusiveness of all disabled people. The goal of the trip was to learn how much the average person actually knew about disability access. She had a second internship with an urban planning organization that focused on making cities safer for children and other members of the community. While abroad Bobbi-Angelica also volunteered at a children's school for disability teaching deaf kids math and English.
Project: A video series to promote the benefits of international exchange to people with disabilities. The series seeks to discuss the overall experience, including both positive and negative feelings, resources they came across, and advice for a disabled person interested in study abroad.
Johna Wright (She/Her/Hers)
About: “As a disabled person who has been fortunate enough to experience multiple exchanges, I have seen firsthand how international exchanges can drastically boost confidence, improve mobility and self-advocacy skills, and allow for self-exploration that may not be possible at your home university.”
Johna has participated in a number of international exchange opportunities. She was a service scholar volunteer in Cape Town, South Africa focusing on small business development and entrepreneurial education programs, then studied abroad as a Gilman Scholar at Linnéuniversitetet in Kalmar, Sweden, and as a Global Leader Scholar in Colchester, United Kingdom. Most recently, Johna was awarded a Fulbright Student Fellowship to pursue her studies at Tampere University in Tampere, Finland to study Comparative Social Policy and Welfare, in the hopes of working for an international disability-focused nonprofit.
Project: A two-part webinar series to empower students with disabilities to participate in study abroad, which will include partnering with disability advocacy organizations, and disabled student groups to learn more about exchange alumni with disabilities experiences abroad. A follow-up webinar will discuss students with disabilities' interests, concerns, and goals to participate in international exchange and provide them with targeted resources.
Sheila Xu (She/Her/Hers)
About: "When I was a deaf student in college, I struggled to find information on accessibility and opportunities available to me in the countries I would be working and living in. I spent countless hours searching all over Google, outreaching to multiple people, and most importantly, finding funding sources to cover my accommodations, living expenses, and medical needs in a foreign country, where disability laws might not be favorable or non-existent.”
Shelia’s International exchange experience started when she was a sophomore at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after receiving a fellowship to research in England for the summer. The research was focused on deaf entrepreneurs in the UK and Europe and developed into her senior thesis research on the “deaf economy” - to examine, observe, and outline the traits and characteristics of the “deaf economy” in the U.S. and Europe.
After graduation, she was awarded the InterExchange’s Christianson Grant to teach American Sign Language and Deaf Culture at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in Italy. Shortly after the grant ended, Sheila was awarded a Fulbright Study/Research grant to expand her work on the “deaf economy” to Italy and its deaf entrepreneurs.
Project: Creating a resource guide for people with disabilities, including the deaf students, about finding international exchange opportunities, and resources for accommodation and accessibility in Italy. Some of the topics to be included are the benefits of going abroad, navigating bureaucracy, rights abroad, access to healthcare, financial resources available, how to find locals with disabilities, and how Italians generally view people with disabilities and more.
Pearl Zhang (She/Her/Hers)
About: “In going back to Nanjing, China to visit relatives, I've come across a variety of different responses from people; they were either curious, dismissive, or unsure of how to act around me. I strongly believe in including people from all walks of life and different backgrounds in order for them to feel that they are being welcomed and that they belong."
Pearl has participated in many international exchange programs. In 2018, she volunteered English teacher in Taiwan. Then in 2019, she taught science pedagogy to elementary school students in Mexico. Most recently in the spring of 2020, Pearl attended the Clinton Global Initiative Conference to present her Commitment to Action project, which was about reducing educational inequality for students with disabilities. As an advocate for students and adults with disabilities, Pearl aspires to glisten, which means to be present with others in ways that help them shine into their deepest color, purpose, and wisdom. She loves hiking, reading a good book, and baking pastries.
Project: A mini-podcast series that features people with disabilities and higher education professionals who have traveled abroad or teach/work in the field. The podcast will include interviews with marginalized people to highlight their experiences abroad in terms of the cultural subtleties, nuances, and accessibility challenges they had to navigate.