Summer 2021 "Access to Exchange" Externs Announced

Meet the second cohort of the NCDE Access to Exchange Externs and learn about their creative and engaging outreach activities and their international exchange experience!

We are pleased to announce our ten Access to Exchange Externs for Summer 2021. We are excited to share that this year's externs are exchange alumni of both inbound and outbound international exchanges. These externs will each be working on their own virtual outreach projects to promote the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange opportunities. Their projects will reach people with disabilities around the world in different languages in the form of blogs, webinar series, disability culture guides, and information hubs. 

Access to Exchange Externs

Inbound Externs: Other Countries → U.S.

Portrait of Suraiya from shoulders up in out door setting

Suraiya Bably

About: Suraiya Aktar Bably, is the first blind woman from Bangladesh in her PhD program to the USA. She is a disability rights activist and passionate about changing the negative perception towards girls with disabilities. In 2012, she joined the board of the Women with Disabilities Development Foundation, the only disabled women-led national organization in Bangladesh. In 2013, she went to South Korea to participate in the Global Leadership Training for Youth with Disabilities. After participating in the program she had a new vision to see the same change in her country, especially the region she belonged to. In 2018, she was admitted to the Ph.D. program in Disability Studies at The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her academic goals are to explore the core barriers of women with disabilities living in the global south and find solutions aiming to unleash their true potential. She is also the treasurer of the student organization at UIC called Connecting Dots International (CDI) that advocates for people with disabilities no matter what their immigration status.

Project: Host a webinar to provide step-by-step training for applying to an international exchange program. This information would reach potential disabled students to encourage them to participate in an exchange program.

Asma standing in front of Washington, DC Monument pond

Asma Bibi

About: Asma Bibi is from Pakistan and an alumna of the Global UGRAD exchange program in 2020. While on her exchange semester she attended the State University of Georgia. The purpose of this program was to experience US culture, to study at a US school for one semester, to gain professional skills such as public speaking and writing. 

Project: Host a webinar to encourage students with disabilities to apply for scholarships to study in the USA. Additionally, the webinar will include information about how disability-related accommodations are provided for students to participate.

“I hope to change their perspective that people with disabilities can’t travel abroad and get higher education like other people without disabilities.”

Chau little person, side bangs shoulder length straight black hair, Wearing a blue dress with white pocka dots

Nguyen Minh Chau

About: “People often say that: every child is an angel sent to the earth to bring joy to the couples. However, when I or other children with disabilities were born, we did not receive any welcome like that. No one told our parents that. We are also the gifts from the love of our parents like you and be worthy to be welcomed.”

Chau has 17 years experience as a Disability Rights Activist, 17 years experience as an Educator on Communication and Jobs for People with Disabilities, and 12 years experience as a Certified Living value Trainer.

She is a powerhouse for advocacy in disability rights in Vietnam and across the globe, promoting inclusion and empowering disability rights led her to the University of Montana in fall 2016, where she participated in the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program -studying non-governmental organization development.

Chau had a great experience studying in the United State in 2016 and she would like to bring similar opportunities to young persons with disabilities in Vietnam by spreading the message about access to all types of international exchange programs to them. She also can develop her leadership skills also by exploring a potential interest in an international education career; strengthening my techniques for productive remote working; building a professional network in the international education field; deeply understanding strategies for inclusive international exchange programs and career opportunities in international education.


  1. Presenting a virtual meeting to students with disabilities in Vietnam about the benefits of studying or interning in the U.S.
  2. Presenting a webinar/virtual meeting to professionals in Vietnam on how to promote access to U.S. study and exchange to more people with disabilities.
  3. Organizing a virtual panel of disabled international exchange alumni to speak about studying or interning in the U.S. to their peers.


Elizabeth Stands in a in front of a flag

Elizabeth Egel

About: Elizabeth Egel is an alumna of the ECA-sponsored Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). She participated during the 2018-19 academic year. During the program, she spent a year in Armada, Michigan taking classes at the local high school and shared Estonian culture with the students. After returning home from her exchange year, Elizabeth has worked on different projects of the Estonian Blind Union and conducted a grant project to make the Estonian National Opera accessible to people who are blind. She has also been teaching English and American culture for 2 years at the local American Conservation club and organizing events for the local alumni of the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX).

Project: Provide information about different exchange opportunities which are available to high school students with disabilities in my community by telling the stories of disabled students who have taken part in an exchange opportunity.  As the availability of information on this subject is currently limited. 

“I hope that this project will encourage more disabled students from this age group to apply to different exchange opportunities abroad and give them the knowledge that there are people and organizations who are able to help with any challenges they might face.”

Sergio, dressed in cap and gown, smiles while receiving his Master's Diploma during his commencement ceremony

Sergio Taleisnik

About: Sergio Taleisnik is 34 years old, he's from Argentina, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering, and earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics at the Florida campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His graduate studies were made possible through a scholarship funded by the Argentine government, administered by the Fulbright Commission, and sponsored by the US government.

Sergio has worked as a software consultant, associate professor, project manager, and now works remotely from Argentina as a researcher for a software and aviation innovation company based in Florida.

Sergio had a car accident 17 years ago which made him a quadriplegic. He has been involved with organizations working for the empowerment of people with disabilities for many years, including participating in two webinars for MIUSA and the NCDE. Ever since his return to his home country, he has been involved with two organizations looking at encouraging Argentine people to study in the United States as a way of fostering education and advancing the relationship between both countries.

Project: Host a webinar to reach out to people with disabilities from Argentina to encourage them to undertake a similar education experience in the US as the one he did. After the webinar, he will compile the information in a resource guide. 

Zynep stands at a coast blue waters behind

Zeynep Yilmaz

About: Zeynep Yilmaz is a Ph.D. candidate in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at the University of Arizona, working on her dissertation. Prior to starting her Ph.D. degree, she worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Oklahoma City. In 2014, she received her master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Zeynep strongly believes that her journey to the United States, living independently in three different cities, involvement in many disability advocacy organizations, having a variety of professional experiences, and studying at two leading universities has fostered a great deal of professional and personal growth for her.  

She also has encountered many difficulties as a blind international student from Turkey that kindled a great passion to not only advocate for international students with disabilities but also educate professionals working with the international student community. In her different roles as a counselor, program coordinator, teaching assistant, and counselor intern, Zeynep has always had a strong desire to create equal and equitable opportunities for people with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of life in the Community.

Project: Provide a two-part webinar for student services and disability office personnel to make student orientation programs more inclusive and accessible for international students with disabilities. International student orientations are one of the most common ways to facilitate a successful transition for international students. However, general international student orientation programs often do not provide necessary resources and specific information for disabled international students’ unique needs. Lack of knowledge related to who is considered disabled, rights under disability laws, both campus and community resources, and how accommodations work among international students may result in the underutilization of available services.


Outbound Externs: U.S. → Other Countries

Hannah is wearing a black windbreaker from her college tennis team and is smiling for her yearly team photo.

Hannah Borgh

About: Hannah Borgh is a 2021 alum of Gustavus Adolphus College located in St. Peter, MN. During her four years, she was a member of the Gustavus Women’s Tennis team and majored in English and French.  She worked as a study abroad intern in the study abroad office during the 2020-2021 school year, helping peers with study abroad plans and helping promote the school’s programs and scholarships. She is also an alum of IES Abroad Nantes, France, where she studied in the fall of 2019. This fall, she plans to return to France to participate in TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) and have her first experience working abroad.

She has always loved the idea of study abroad and exchange, but nothing has positively impacted her perspective on study abroad more than studying abroad for a semester with a host family in a French immersion program. She has learned French since middle school, where she instantly fell in love with it and knew she wanted to continue learning it forever. She hopes to help facilitate that love for language and for going abroad in the future, hoping to continue working in the international education field in some capacity.

Project:  Creating a resource guide for people with disabilities interested in studying abroad in France. The guide will include how life looks like for people with disabilities in France, provide examples of programs to consider, and offer a better understanding of how receiving accommodations may look like.

Portrait of Lindsey shoulders up, smiling at the camera

Lindsey Pamlanye

About: Lindsey Pamlanye moved to Ireland from New York to pursue an MSc in Equality Studies at University College Dublin. Her commitment to Disability justice is rooted in her lifetime journey with Hydrocephalus and Chronic Migraines. Lindsey's experience as a student, teacher, and program coordinator, who is both a service user and an advocate for authentic inclusion, strongly informs her work. Currently, Lindsey is investigating barriers and opportunities to celebrate Disabled students' contribution in all aspects of education. 

Project: Developing resources that promote the participation of disabled students in international exchange programs, particularly through awareness-raising and policy change.

Portrait of Precious smiling at the camera holding instrument

Precious Perez

About: Precious Perez is a classically trained pop/R&B and Latin vocalist/songwriter currently pursuing a double major in music education and vocal performance at Berklee College of Music. Her goal is to make a difference by doing what she loves and showing the world that blind people are as capable as everyone else. She hopes to inspire future generations to pursue their dreams and be successful in the same way that she has because she knows that anything is possible, and giving up is never an option. As an artivist and music educator, she will be able to make a difference by using her reach as a Puerto Rican Spanish speaker to crush stereotypes by sharing her experiences across cultures and doing what has not been done while advocating for all of the communities she represents. She is confident that she can lead, she can achieve, and she can be the one who alters the way people see. Precious spent her fall 2017 semester studying abroad in Valencia, Spain.

Project: A webinar performance to center music as it relates to study abroad experience. Additionally, sharing overall experience participating in an exchange, explaining the role music played major educational goals, and discussing each song in a 4 song episode as it relates to the experience.

Portrait of Emely from shoulders up in an outdoor setting

Emely Recinos

About: Emely Recinos is a recent graduate of New York University where she received her BA in International Relations with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. In 2018, she studied abroad in Argentina and was a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. While in Argentina Emely was able to expand her knowledge both on Interamerican relations and on the rights of people with disabilities in Latin America. In her senior year of college, Emely conducted an independent thesis project where she analyzed the relationship between changes in El Salvador's economy and experienced violence in the country and was subsequently awarded the Dean's Certificate of Achievement for International Relations Best Thesis. She is currently looking for full-time work opportunities and is a volunteer with the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights in New York.

Project: A Blog Post to provide students with disabilities with short but informative guides on how and why they should consider studying abroad, including tips for how to choose a place to study.