Resource Library

Personal Stories
Haben Grima with friends

Building a Foundation for Future Excellence

Growing up, Haben Girma knew that international exchange was bound to be in her future. She had visited Eritrea and Ethiopia, places her parents called home before immigrating to the United States. So when Haben learned about BuildOn (www.buildon.org) as a teenager, she was determined to go. She was excited about BuildOn’s mission of empowering and educating youth by building schools in some of the world’s poorest remote communities and knew first-hand the importance of access to education.

Personal Stories
Senka smiles during a community garden activity.

A Stubborn Attitude Turns a Chance into an Opportunity

At first glance, Senka Mekic is polite and soft-spoken. But, spend just a few minutes talking with this U.S. Department of State-funded American Serbia and Montenegro Youth Leadership Exchange (A-SMYLE) student and you’ll realize first impressions aren’t meant to last. Senka admits, “I’m not just a bit stubborn, I’m very stubborn!”

Personal Stories
Muhammad gives two thumbs up as he gets set up on a recumbent bicycle.

Like Father, Like Son

When Muhammad, a U.S. Department of State-funded Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) student from Pakistan, first arrived in the United States, he had no idea what to expect. But, he brimmed with excitement at the opportunity to experience life in America. His exchange experience was unique because he would be experiencing true immersion in not just one, but two non-native languages: English and American Sign Language (ASL).

Personal Stories
Loren stands next to a gondola operator during an excursion in Venice.

Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges

With an interest in learning about the cultural, political, and food differences between France and the United States, Loren Ashton embarked on semester-long study abroad to Aix-en-Provence, France, where she attended the Institute of American Universities. Loren, who is Deaf, had the added chance to learn about another aspect of French culture, Deaf French culture. In doing so, Loren built pride in her sign language and new cross-cultural communication skills.

Tip Sheets
Student wearing a hearing aid writing in a classroom with other students.

English Testing for High School Students with Disabilities

Before they arrive in the U.S. for a life-changing cultural immersion experience, prospective high school exchange students from around the world are expected to demonstrate their level of English ability, usually by taking a standardized test. Whichever test you use to assess your applicants, learn how to adapt it to fairly and accurately measure the skills of students with disabilities.

Tip Sheets
Two young women of color have their arms clasped and are smiling brightly for the photo.

High School Programs

It might be going abroad for a high school field trip, volunteering on a church mission trip, or participating in a State Department-sponsored program. You can find a lot of fun programs to see the world and gain new experiences!

Youth with disabilities use these international experiences to help build important skills that make them more competitive for post-secondary employment and education opportunities.

Additionally, participation in international exchange can lead to:

Tip Sheets
Two young American women smile looking over their shoulders.

Prep for Your Disability

Three ways you can help make a smooth transition into your international exchange experience are disclosing your disability, being your own advocate, and determining disability accommodations for access.

Tip Sheets
A young American woman in a power wheelchair in a busy square in an Asian city.

Find Your Exchange Experience

Americans with disabilities are becoming international explorers through exchange opportunities that include both people with and without disabilities. All U.S.-based international exchange organizations are required to make their programs inclusive of people with disabilities.

Focus on programs that best fit your interests, academic goals, and professional aspirations. These include academic study abroad programs, fellowships, professional development programs, internships, and volunteer opportunities abroad.

Tip Sheets
An assortment of foreign currencies are scattered on a table.

Plan Your Expenses

Let's get started by building a list of potential expenses you may have when participating in an international exchange experience. From general fees to disability-related expenses. These expenses might be paid for in a number of ways, including through your own expenses, a school, an exchange program, vocational rehabilitation funding, scholarships, and more.

Tip Sheets
A collection of foreign currency.

Fund Your International Exchange Experience

"How can I afford to go abroad?” is likely a big question on your mind. While MIUSA does not directly provide financial resources for international exchange, we can point you in the right direction. To get started, think about the international exchange opportunities you are most interested in.

Personal Stories
Stella with Host Family in a park

Student with Disability is Host Family’s Shining Star

When Katharine Royal was five years old, she told her grandfather that one day she’d welcome a child from Africa into her life. Years later, her childhood dream came true as she and her husband opened their home to Stella, a high school exchange student from Kenya who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

Katharine understood the challenges that Stella was facing. Like Stella, she, too, has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

"Pretty much before [my friend] even fully asked me if I would consider hosting Stella, I told her we are doing this."

Best Practices
School building

Texas School Welcomes Blind Egyptian Student

When Stan Sowers, the principal of Eustace High School, learned that a blind exchange student would be spending a year at his school, he was apprehensive. His first thought was, “Oh, my goodness, why would we want to take on something like that, you know?”

Tip Sheets
Missing wearing traditional Japanese clothes at shrine

Japan Focus: ADHD and Traveling with Medication

From time to time we get inquiries from people with ADHD wishing to study in Japan, and they are overwhelmed with the confusing maze of rules and regulations vis-à-vis their medications. Japan’s rules for medications, such as those related to ADHD or pain management, are unique, and they required a unique tipsheet.

A Yakkan Shoumei is a certificate authorizing permission for you to bring medication into the country.

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