Precious Perez, a 2021 NCDE Extern, shares a webinar to speak about her study abroad journey to Valenica and is joined by people who supported her throughout her journey, including one of her professors in Spain.
I had the idea to put together a webinar with a twist. I am so passionate about study abroad, especially knowing that students with disabilities like me do not take the opportunity due to worry or lack of resources and support. As an artist, I was inspired by my time abroad in Valencia, Spain to create music that represented my experiences and related to others. My goal with this project was to use the power of music to empower and inspire students with disabilities to take the leap by being vulnerable about my fears beforehand, the resources I found, and my overwhelmingly positive experiences while abroad.
I invited a sighted guest that is a dear friend of mine and was a choir director in Valencia to provide his perspective on the imact of someone with a disability on campus, and shared a video from a professor who shared his thoughts. I discussed a bit of an overview of resources, and the rest was communicated through song. I played each song from the Agua de Valencia EP in turn with my ukulele, explaining in detail each experience and inspiration behind it. The gathering on Zoom was small, the performance was intimate, and the message was clear, studying abroad will change your life, utilize the NCDE and MIUSA and you too can have these experiences.
- Connecting with a local disability organization abroad: "The thing that I looked into initially was, there's a blindness organization in Spain called ONCE and they provide different blindness services such as training, orientation and mobility, and so learning how to navigate, items like canes which I ended up needing two new canes, because I brought and broke both of them."
- Open dialogue: "I would recommend anyone with a disability, look into services that are offered in the countries that you are going to study in. Make sure to try to reach out to the study abroad office at the main campus because that was a main connection for me to have, was talking to everybody at study abroad and in Boston on the Boston campus, so that they knew what I needed and could help coordinate getting settled in, and making sure I had access to everything that I needed once I arrived and during my experience.
- Integrating into your new community: "I ended up integrating myself into that community and having all of these different experiences, participating in different projects, really doing everything that I possibly could, because I knew that there was a disabled community in Valencia too, and I am very passionate about advocating for all these different things, and making sure people know, hey, I'm blind but I can still do things."
It's scary, it's challenging. And you don't always know what's going to happen. But that's the beauty of life. It's about taking risks and this is a risk that would definitely enrich your life and anyone who encounters you.
So to all students with disabilities, please, go study abroad!