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MIUSA implemented a partnership with “Agate” Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities to advocate for strong disability rights laws and implementation.
Funding graduate education in the United States is intimidating for many international students, with and without disabilities, but it doesn't have to be. Join us as we discuss some well-known and not so well-known methods of taking your funding strategy to the next level.
Megan Smith shares her top tips when encountering attitudinal barriers abroad.
What can people with disabilities do to make sure they are included in the conversation?
Sarah Leslie and her friends watched history unfold before them as they attempted to study in a region amid revolution.
A study abroad program designed to include all students meant that Shannon Kelly, who uses a wheelchair, spent less time worrying about accommodations and more time exploring South Africa.
There is a huge water-filled elephant in the room that travel guides don’t speak much about. Megan Smith broaches the subject of toilets abroad.
Not everything works out as we plan. When the unforeseen cut short Brooklyn's dreams to live abroad, she found the resilience to dream bigger.
As an undergraduate student with cerebral palsy, Connie Rivera knew that traveling to the developing world might present accessibility barriers and accepted the challenge - and a Gilman scholarship - with gusto.
Once the seed for international travel was planted, Dr. Shonda McLaughlin marveled at the many new possibilities that opened up to her.
Your friends are sitting around a dinner table, each speaking their own language. One person speaks Italian, another English, another American Sign Language (ASL) and still another Lingua dei Segni Italiana (LIS), which is Italy’s sign language. Now imagine that you get to facilitate communication between all of you.
"I'm blind - so what? I have a lot to give, and I want to do it in the Peace Corps."
Early on in Stephanie Collins’ stay in Dalian, China, she had coffee with her language partner, the person assigned to help her practice Chinese. Having had few opportunities to meet blind individuals, the language partner asked Stephanie about her vision, how she studied and how she navigated through the world. Stephanie explained to her partner about using her cane and even let her try it out.
As a student, volunteer, teammate, and friend, Gilman Scholar Jennifer Smith fulfilled many roles while living in Ghana - and realized her strength along the way.
To turn her health around, Allegra Johnson embraced the three tenets of a healthy lifestyle: diet, exercise, and international travel.
Megan Smith shares her insights into accessible travel in Japan.
For its inaugural overseas volunteer project, Volunteer Positive assembled a team of people living with HIV to serve as international volunteers in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
When Robin Sutherby was in high school, she took part in the Spanish language class trip to Mexico and learned how important it can be to plan ahead for access related to her cerebral palsy.
Annie Keenon, who is hard of hearing, writes about her preparations for an internship in Accra, Ghana and the reactions of her friends, family, and program directors.
One of the Big Challenges is Finding the LD Services
It was a mix of good and bad news that led Elise Rayner to not only study Chinese in Beijing, but to also return home with a new sense of purpose.
A true Gilman scholar, Christena Weatherspoon represented multiple kinds of American diversity while studying in India.
For some, riding the bus is just a way to get from point A to point B, but for many people with disabilities whom Michelle Garcia meets, it’s a vehicle for empowerment.
After observing China through the lens of landscape paintings, history books, and Jackie Chan movies, a deaf student immerses herself in the "China of today."
For Christine Bélanger and her fellow volunteers, living with, working alongside, and learning from the local people and leaders of the host community in Guatemala elevated their experience from travel to citizen diplomacy exchange.
A visit to South Korea sparked Tony's passion for studying the region's complex history.
With rain coming down hard outside and pooling from poor drainage systems under faint streetlights, Antonia DeMichiel starts her day. To stay warm she wears sweaters and wool socks, and catches a taxi to work.
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.
Chynna McNair might have grown up thinking that she would live and die in Madison, Wisconsin, but all that was destined to change after she enrolled at Madison Area Technical College, her local community college.
From her firsthand experience, Megan Smith sees there's more dimensions to what it means to travel the world in her power wheelchair.
Most mornings of her Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program in India, Esha Mehta would wake early and catch a rickshaw with her roommate to her Hindi classes. The morning she remembers most, however, happened at sunrise while on an excursion to Pushkar in Rajasthan, India.
For Semester at Sea students like Emily Block, time is measured in countries visited.
Away From Home, I Managed to Find My Voice
Catching a wave in the Caribbean. Cruising down the slopes of a volcano. Zipping through rainforests along a cable. Reading a textbook. When you think of extreme adventure, one of these is not like the other. Yet what Sean Whalen discovered while traveling is that, for blind people in Nicaragua, accessing one of these activities is perceived to be a near-impossible challenge – and it’s not the one you’d expect.
Just one day of surfing the internet for a career shift, led Frank Lester to the Peace Corps. He taught English and HIV/AIDS prevention to youth at a Deaf School in Zambia and Kenya.
Whether as an artist, traveler, or non-profit founder, MIUSA alumna Reveca Torres is dedicated to changing the lives of people with spinal cord injuries.
Carina Ho, a creator of movement through music and dance globally
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 for American Universities.
Arriving in Cape Town during a pivotal time for people with disabilities in Africa, Alex Stone - along with his canine companion Fraser - found that his internship abroad was more auspicious than he had initially predicted.
Shea Megale spent four weeks over the summer of 2018 directing an original film that she had created with a group of Czech actors during an exchange with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)
Meet Kathryn Carroll, who studied business and politics in Norway and France. She has low vision and uses a white cane, ZoomText software, and a scanner to access her studies.
Christie Gilson, who is blind, spent eleven months in Hong Kong on a Fulbright grant. She later became a professor and part of the Fulbright Board.
Although Elana Lowell, who is deaf, did face some challenges along the way, she learned that there are many ways to grow from being out of her comfort zone and to enjoy study and interning abroad.
Sarah Franz, who is Deaf and has chronic health-related conditions, participated in a summer study abroad program in Florence, Italy and a MIUSA summer exchange to Costa Rica. Though communication challenges were to be expected, Sarah shares how her experiences as a person with a disability helped her adjust to the new environment more readily.
Clark University alum Eric Cochrane reflects on his senior semester in Stirling, Scotland, where he hosted the award-winning radio show "This Aspergian Life" in between adventures with new friends.
As part of her internship supporting inbound exchange students, University of Illinois graduate Shannon Kelly draws from her four - yes, four! - study abroad experiences to make her students feel at home and to show colleagues what's possible.
To escape Michigan's cold winter, Juanita Lillie sought Spanish immersion in Central America, where she found warmth not only from the sunshine, but from classmates, professors, and the community.
Ever since studying in the Middle East, Bushra Khaliq has become even more curious about the world around her. As a Pakistani-American with spina bifida, she wants to share her international travel tips and encourage more people with disabilities to get curious.
Anne Reuss, who is Deaf, studied abroad in Italy, where she gained the confidence and skills to launch a career in social media.
Genuine connections with local people. Hands-on learning alongside peers. A shared appreciation of the area's history. For Justice Shorter, these experiences are what characterized her time in Uganda and Rwanda as a true "exchange."
Alexandra Futty has always been determined to not lead a “small life.” As a senior in high school she raised $10,000 and convinced her parents and Catholic school to allow her take a half year to go on a cultural exchange to India.
Melissa DiVietri tested the limits to learn the ins and outs of traveling to another country with a physical disability. She was born with sacral agenesis which is a spinal deformity that limits mobility below the hips, and traveled to Italy while using loft arm crutches as her mobility.
Precious Perez, NCDE Extern, providing advocacy through artistry.
Nicholas Hoekstra, who is blind, describes the tactics he used to assert his independence while teaching English in Japan and the moves required to spar with a Judo sensei.
Emma Verrill considered herself lucky to be teaching high school in France. Though she thought about how the students would perceive their young, American teacher using a wheelchair.
Volunteering at a health clinic in Lima, Peru offered Tracy Cherba an opportunity to share her strategies for managing diabetes with the community.
A young professional and disability inclusion advocate uses a series of strategies to maintain balance in the exciting but ever-shifting field of international education.
As someone with a learning disability, Kristin Hoobler Morgan found that the secret to mastering the Spanish language was to envelop herself in all things "Granadina."
Miles (formerly Melissa) MacDonald, a man with ADHD, has found community while pursuing an English teaching career and a childhood dream to learn about Japanese culture.
Alicia Nyblade, who has low vision, has always been oriented to travel but her study abroad experience in Sweden gave her a close up experience with the culture.
Leslie Weilbacher, an American of German descent, studied German in an international language school in Berlin, while accompanied by her guide dog, Cammy.
With help from her college, community, and a Gilman Scholarship Award, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Katelyn Parker learned more about the world and her own vocational interests.
For Christy Smith, Costa Rica is the site that sparked, and continues to recharge, her connection with international deaf communities.
Talking through her concerns with others helped study abroad student Amanda let go of her anxieties over the summer she spent in Florence, Italy.
When Alahna Keil, who has cerebral palsy, enrolled in Luther College in Iowa, located an hour away from her home in Wisconsin, the idea of studying abroad seemed far from her mind. She was apprehensive about the possibility of study abroad both for academic and physical reasons.
Removing Barriers and Researching Solutions
Paula knew that life abroad in Lithuania would differ from Bethel College, her home institution in Minnesota. As a student with ADD, she had the foresight to find out how to prepare for those differences.
By confiding in people who are understanding of Asperger's, Chris Tidmarsh opened himself up to personal growth in France and beyond.
What do you do if the professors in your host country don't understand your disability? Jonathon, a student with ADHD, identifies the pitfalls he faced abroad so others can travel feeling more prepared.
Meet Dr. Denise Decker, a Federal Legislative Specialist who has advanced her career through participation in a variety of international exchange opportunities, all with her Seeing Eye dog by her side.
Steven Mayers is an American Sign Language teacher who enjoys learning about the sign languages and deaf cultures of Europe straight from the source.
Now a graduate student, Juanita Lillie reunites with the organization that first sent her abroad. This time around, she joins them not as a participant, but as a colleague to share and expand knowledge around diversity in international education.
Through his "high-strength lens," Kevin Cosgrove recounts the struggles and successes of navigating Australia independently, plus his encounters with the local blind community, cheeky surf instructors, and Aussie slang along the way.
Jessica Chesbro, who has a mobility disability, has studied abroad in the Netherlands and France and was also a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. She is now a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State.
Just Because it’s Uncomfortable, it Doesn’t Make it Bad
While distributing wheelchairs in Russia, Shanda Grubb gained a new appreciation for what it means to be independent.
Q&A with U.S. scholar Samson "Sam" Lim, who has dystonia, and proclaims travel is part of his DNA. Most recently, he spent a year researching Education Sciences through the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright Program.
When she began pursuing her Master’s degree in Deaf Education at the University of Arizona, Mallory Watts sought an opportunity to expand her professional knowledge by teaching abroad.
People Who Do International Exchange Feel More Alive
The humid heat in Malaysia, lack of air conditioning, and cold showers made adjusting to the first four days of her study abroad program difficult for Stephanie, a student from University of South Florida.
When Melissa Jensen made the decision to go abroad for the first time, she took charge of her own plans.
When she arrived to start her internship with the Seoul Deaf Korean Association, Michelle Morris quickly found that her expectations and reality didn't quite line up. Originally presented at the 2018 Joining Hands Symposium, Michelle reflects on finding purpose, finding one's tribe, preserving self-esteem, and navigating South Korea as a black deaf woman.
Carla Valpeoz studied abroad in Spain, Egypt, Tunisia and then accepted a volunteer position teaching English to blind students in Yemen as part of her six-month practicum. Carla is blind and uses a cane for mobility. She later worked for an Arab-American nonprofit organization in Detroit.
Reflecting on his journeys to Rwanda, Argentina, Peru, China and Uganda, a world-traveler named Zach explains how he managed the cultural differences related to social anxiety and depression while abroad.
In a village five hours outside of Nairobi, Kenya, with no electricity or running water, Tara Wickey, who has muscular dystrophy, was studying abroad for her graduate degree in Public Service Management at DePaul University.
John Winn, an American musician of short stature, shared music and culture in Cambodia, Mexico, Russia and South Korea through the Jazz Ambassadors Program, now known as American Music Abroad.
The discovery that international exchange is not "one-size-fits-all" led Jeremiah Swisher to find a program that felt right for him.
Once Sarah Beauchamp made the decision to study abroad in Scotland, she set forth on a mission to ensure communication access - even through heavy Scottish accents!
Early on in her 9-month stay in Assisi, Italy, Jameyanne Fuller went to the supermarket to buy groceries, accompanied by the married couple who were her landlords, and her guide dog, Mopsy. When they got to the entrance, a worker blocked Jameyanne from entering. To avoid a scene, her landlords offered to get the items she needed, but she would have none of it.
To plan for study abroad in Italy, Perseus McDaniel found that arranging and funding accommodations can take time, and if at first you don’t succeed…try again!
The best thing about language study is that it never ends. The best thing about a road trip on a makeshift bus for 13 hours across Cuba, is that it does.
On a Fund for Education Abroad scholarship, an American university student sets his sights on Germany for practicing his independence, perfecting his Deutsch, and preparing for a career in ESL.
Five U.S. professionals traveled to Armenia for U.S.-led adaptive sports demonstrations with local Armenians with disabilities, cultural excursions, and visits with diplomats, athletes, and coaches.
For Antonia DeMichiel, a student who has cerebral palsy and uses crutches, catching her next dream meant catching the next flight to Argentina.
At the school in Ghana where she volunteered, Wofford Global Service Fellow Teresa Pichardo, worked with students who are Deaf like her to "open their world."
Want to know more about Nathan? Play his video presentation about his study abroad trip, recorded during an #AccessTheWorld Virtual Meetup.
Linea Johnson knows what it is to live with mental health conditions, but it wasn’t until she sought out volunteer and internship opportunities abroad that she discovered how varied life with a mental health condition can be in other parts of the world.
Roy Burkholder, a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language, has been living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for many years and shares his experiences and strategies for enjoying the journey abroad.
In spending time with local people in Tanzania, Rachel Garaghty found countless opportunities for mutual learning and understanding.
Surfing, zip-lining, canyoning, volcano-boarding...there are no limits!
"...I want you to understand that in the United States because disability is a part of our diversity, if you have a disability when you apply it is a positive...it is not a negative."
"...don’t let someone tell you that you can’t go because there are always accommodations so just go and enjoy life..."
"...she can now dream big and achieve bigger and I think we really achieved that goal...", Serena Olsen, Peace Corps Volunteer, Kyrgyzstan
"I would have missed that opportunity if I had let people tell me what I can and can’t do."
Studying a language while on international exchange can introduce you to new people.
Jacob learned about disability rights abroad in one exchange with MIUSA and in another with CIL Berkeley. He told us how those experiences resonate in his work as a community organizer.
From international wheelchair racing champion to international development. Learn how Anjali did it in this latest episode.
Communication is contextual. Find out what that meant for Joseph Hill, a deaf African-American researcher focusing on the way that culture influences languages
Jessica discovered that study abroad can resonate even working stateside. Find out how.
By sharing her home with guests from around the world, Regenia Huffman opens herself up to unique cultural experiences. Regenia is paraplegic and uses a wheelchair.
Out of the box thinkers and thought leaders see possibility where others don't. To be on the cutting edge of international exchange, Sarah Amin challenges her colleagues, her international visitors, and herself to achieve full access in their programs.
When IBM employee Seth Bravin learned about opportunities for international service offered through his employer’s IBM Corporate Service Corps Program, he was intrigued despite reservations about being away from his responsibilities as a parent.
After fearing how others will react to his disability, international travel writer Franz Knupfer confronts some assumptions of his own.
In Cameroon, Callie Frye noticed how Deaf and hearing people often sat side by side on the streets selling food, clothes, jewelry, and other items that they made. Whatever their skills were, and regardless of disability status, they had created individual businesses and lived off of them. This impressed her in much the same way that the locals came to understand the opportunities that Callie had in her life in the United States.
Maegan's first experience abroad opened up her eyes to international disability advocacy, a field that she’s dedicated herself to ever since.
Kathleen Coleman dreams of returning to Spain and would like others to know that having a travel companion with Asperger's can enhance an already-unique experience.
"Why not?" was the simple question that led UC Berkeley student Vicky Chen, who has low vision, to participate in a six-week Chinese language program in Taiwan.
Beth Ocrant, who is blind, studied Special Education and used her VR funds as a student in England. The skills she learned abroad have served her well in a decade of work as a case manager for the Easter Seals Society in Chicago.
Erikson Young shares what it was like to teach abroad and, in doing so, become a role model to other Deaf people.
Megan Smith talks about how volunteering abroad and ‘working holidays’ have become increasingly popular ways to travel and explore foreign cultures and lands.
Kaiti Shelton shares a lesson in independence abroad.
If you’ve ever traveled to another country without knowing the language, chances are you’ve entered into an impromptu game of charades with local people at some point, using colorful gestures to find your way back to the hostel or to seek out the best fruit stand.
Danny Vang, a blind student from California State University in Fresno, studied abroad in London and shares his #BlindAbroad tips.
Erinn Snoeyink, a blind woman, speaks about her experience on two separate trips to Spain, and how she made the decision to have personal assistants.
A Hendrix College graduate in English Literature, Laura Podd traveled for a year to Guatemala, Ireland, Thailand, and Ukraine. And she had $25,000 on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to do it.
A business traveler stands her ground to build networks in the face of language, culture, and access barriers.
Rebecca Epple shares how she developed an educational exchange for her students to France, the birthplace of Laurent Clerc.
Tyler Clark’s interest was piqued when he visited Valparaiso University in Indiana for the first time, and the campus tour guide mentioned the university’s study abroad programs. “Would I be able to study abroad?” he asked the study abroad office that day to which the reply came, “Well, when would you like to?”
In one of the remaining Arabic fishing villages on the coast of Israel, Jisr Az’Zarqa, Tory Sampson and her best friend found themselves in a rundown, corrugated steel restaurant. It had “the most amazing” fish dishes. Afterwards, they wandered into a shisha (hookah) bar, and ended up watching a soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid with the locals.
Studying Chinese on a David L. Boren scholarship, Ming Canaday connected with her roots.
As a blind Paralympic athlete and coach, Asya Miller is no stranger to international travel. And yet her journey to Russia as part of the U.S. Embassy Moscow and U.S. Department of State’s SportsUnited exchange program would be different.
What if your major is International Studies or your degree requires you to take classes overseas? How can you study abroad during your college experience, and pay for your personal assistant while traveling?
World-class athlete Anjali Forber-Pratt taps into disability communities worldwide through sports diplomacy.
"I've been to Italy and back!" declares Alison Ecker, a graduate of the University of Oregon, where she studied abroad. "I can do anything!"
Whether Deaf or hearing, "you always have something to contribute," as Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Allen Neece will tell you.
We Can Impact Somebody
Linea Johnson, a student with bipolar disorder, traded the rain of Seattle for the rain of Dublin while studying English and Creative Writing in Ireland.
Growing Globally Without Leaving Home
Two ambassadors for athletics share lessons on and off the court about the importance of education, inclusion, and respect for diversity.
Anthony Treas is a veteran of the Iraq War who spent eight years serving with the United States military. In 2014 during his undergraduate degree at Oregon State University he completed a public health internship in Ecuador on the U.S. Department of State-funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. But what started as an international exchange experience in Ecuador led to a career in Colombia.
When Michelle She started her first year of college in Tennessee far from her home in Maryland, her parents weren’t concerned about the distance or her year delay in starting. At least not in comparison to where she went the year before, and what she gained in return.
After a five hour ride in a clunky van over dirt roads, Jake Robinson and his fellow study abroad students arrived in the remote, densely forested interior of Ghana to visit a medical clinic.
As a visitor from England to the U.S., Portia recalls striking differences in U.S. culture and the academic accommodations she received for depression.
Teuta Halilaj, an alumna of MIUSA’s Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), shares the story of her journey as a disability rights activist in Albania.
In the Spotlight: Agate Center for Women with Disabilities with Special Needs, a Disabled People’s Organization (DPO) located in Gyumri, Armenia
Disability Rights Leader and 2006 WILD alumna from Armenia, Karine Grigoryan, shares her WILD impact story and how it led her to found her own organization for young women and girls.
Armenian Disability Rights Leader Reflects on the Importance of Exchange Programs
How one woman in Armenia is using her professional exchange experience to bring change to her country by advancing disability rights through the power of sports.
MIUSA's exchange partner in Armenia shares the motivation behind his work and the status of disability in his country.
Jeanette Lee lives for advocating, singing, and traveling – and manages to intertwine each of them in her focus on disability rights and accessibility for everyone.
Lisi Desai and participants of the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability - Bangladesh training program proudly hold a banner stating, “Lets change the World!” This intensive one day training aimed to do just that.
Following an eventful year at a U.S. high school, Dzenana "Jenny" Brkic wrote an open letter to other exchange students with disabilities all over the world. Jenny, who is blind, came to Indiana from Bosnia as a YES student.
Lucas Nadólskis, a blind student in computer science at the University of Minnesota, shares how he became interested in study in the United States and how the process has been for him in taking admission exams, learning contracted and nemeth braille, navigating the campus and interacting with roommates.
Disability Rights Leader and 2003 WILD alumna from Cambodia, Kanika Nguon, shares her WILD impact story and how she is transforming her community through education.
“There I was, near the Ed Roberts Campus at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, where the independent living movement all began and I was telling myself it could happen in my country too.”
Patricia Meche Tamgno, a young woman with albinism from Cameroon, lived with a host family and attended high school in Coos Bay, Oregon, as part of the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program.
Together with fellow African youth, a woman with a disability will leverage leadership opportunities in the U.S. to inspire change throughout Africa.
Audrey Kobayashi, a geography professor from Canada and a wheelchair user, conducted research in Washington, DC, USA, as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar.
Studying English as a Second Language (ESL) creates opportunities. Cheng Yu, a Deaf alumnus of the University of Oregon (UO) American English Institute (AEI), can count quite a few that came to him as a result of his language learning.
To better serve disabled students in China, visiting professional Well Zhao toured organizations working towards disability inclusion across the U.S.
It really taught me how to be strong. And to try, and to throw my ideas out there and to encourage myself to develop and be more productive. Being here at American University gave me more confidence in myself.
"Studying abroad lets you see the world"
Life was easy for Gabriela Cordovez back home in Ecuador. She has a very supportive family that taught her many life skills and pushed her to always achieve her dreams.
Growing up in a French military family, Floriane traveled internationally from a very young age, including the diverse landscapes and people of America. Her next trip to the United States, however, would be on her own terms.
Esma Gumberidze, a blind student from Tbilisi, Georgia, lived with a host family and attended a mainstream public high school in Ocala, Florida as part of the U.S. Department of State sponsored FLEX program.
A strong sense of curiosity about the world led exchange student Tijani Bukari from Ghana to a school for Deaf students in Maryland.
How women leaders with disabilities are advocating for inclusive health services in Ghana.
Argiroula Zangana, a Deaf student from Greece, studied at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York as a Fulbright Student. There, she experienced a transformation as she learned about two new cultures – American culture and Deaf culture.
Kindness and support from others were among the resources that helped Reina Estrada, who is blind, navigate the hurdles of studying English in the U.S.
When other doors were locked, community college held the key for Justin Chan to pursue the career that he wanted.
Staged in “the cradle of the disability rights movement," Maria Magdolna Flamich and Maria Rita Hoffmann set the scene to capture the theatrical and dramatic sweep of their intensive learning immersion in "The Story of Gershwin and Kodály."
With the momentum of WILD energizing her, a disabled leader set to work in making change happen for women and girls in India.
"Bringing people with disabilities into the tech workforce does not only create equal opportunities for all, but also better equips society to serve its diverse population."
Growing up in New Delhi with physical disabilities, Shivangi Agrawal lived life to the fullest. Yet, something was missing. Upon completing her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Bio Cultural Anthropology from Oregon State University, she discovered what that was.
Lintang Kirana, a university student from Indonesia who has spina bifida, lived with a host family and attended high school in Kansasville, Wisconsin, as part of the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program.
Signing in ASL, Cristophorus Budidharma describes his journey from Indonesia to Rochester, New York to further his education in science and mathematics.
We Must Learn Our Duties, Not Just Our Rights
While attending community college in Hawaii, international student Shuhei Onishi committed himself to meeting and helping people from all over the world.
Yasushi Miyazaki, an autistic student from Japan, explains how patience and effort paid off when studying in the U.S.
With encouragement from her Deaf role models, Manako Yabe enrolled in a Deaf Studies program and researched Deaf American, Jamaican and Japanese students' access to higher education.
Arriving to Temple University in Philadelphia confused and excited like many other international students, Mayuko Abe attended the orientations, walked across the large campus, got lost many times, but easily asked for help to get from one building to the next.
With encouragement from host friends and family, a Kenyan teenager "thrives" in her American school.
How do short term international exchanges advance equal rights for people with disabilities? It starts with an individual taking action.
Azat Toroev, a U.S. Department of State-funded Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) participant from Kyrgyzstan who has a physical disability, came to the United States driven by his interests in film, volunteering, and journalism.
Azat Toroev is part of the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program that has been including students with disabilities among its exchange scholarship recipients.
“Universities in the U.S. work a lot to encourage self-expression, character, and confidence.”
Visiting professional Jagoda Risteska will use her experiences in the U.S. to empower women with disabilities in Macedonia.
The old proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” certainly applies to Ana, an ambitious teenager from the European country of Moldova.
Disability Rights Leader and 2008 WILD alumna from Mongolia, Dulamsuren Jigjid, shares her WILD impact story and how she is advancing disability rights through the arts in her country.
Mounir Kheirallah, a Legislative Fellow from Morocco, visited Casablanca's sister city of Chicago to observe how NGOs advocate for people with disabilities. Mounir is visually impaired and serves as Vice Deputy Secretary for the Casablanca Lighthouse.
Ganga is among the many MIUSA alumni who are taking their rightful place as respected leaders in communities throughout the world.
“It was wonderful. I had never had that experience before, being in an environment surrounded by so many people who were hearing. It was a great education for me.”
As part of the first-ever cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Lois Auta didn't have to wait long before she saw how the experience opened more doors for her - and other people with disabilities - in her country.
Disability Rights Leader and 1997 WILD alumna from Nigeria, Ekaete Umoh, shares her WILD impact story and how it ignited her passion for promoting the right to sexual and reproductive health.
Sheriff came from Nigeria to the United States to get his Master's Degree in Special Education. He was looking for the amazing opportunities and resources available to people with disabilities like himself, but he found so much more.
Blind international students from certain world regions never had access to math learning beyond primary school because their teachers did not have the tools, such as alternative teaching methods, assistive technology, and/or tactile graphics.
Nerves about being a Muslim international student in a largely Mormon host environment melted away when Abdul arrived to find a welcoming and supportive community.
A Deaf Pakistani Student’s Exchange Experience
While attending her host schools in Kentucky, high school exchange student Safira Bibi cultivated talents for sports and public speaking.
After struggling to learn English in Palestine, Sameh decided that he wanted to smooth out the path for other blind students. Thanks to a scholarship from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), he is closer than ever to achieving his goal.
Disability Rights Leader and 2003 WILD alumna from Peru, Madezha Cepeda, shares her WILD impact story and how she is mentoring the next generation of women leaders with disabilities.
Marlon Celso, a student of short stature from the Philippines, studied at a high school in the U.S. under the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. He shares his experiences transitioning from the Philippines to the U.S. as a person with a disability.
From her host community of Spokane, Washington, Polina beams as she recalls the highlights of her academic year on the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program.
Experiencing two cultures - hearing and Deaf - opens a Russian teen to new friendships in the U.S.
Chuck and Chris Pamperin have been hosting international students in their home for decades, including students with disabilities. In their eyes, hosting benefits everyone involved, sometimes in unexpected ways, and often for years after students return to their home countries.
Starting change by experiencing accessibility, Svetlana Vasilyeva speaks about her experience on the Humphrey Fellowship Program from Russia to the U.S.
As a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at Michigan State University, Andrey Tikhonov picked up some new techniques for teaching - as well as for independent living.
Yulia Simonova, founder of the non-profit organization Perspektiva in Russia, still uses the skills she once developed as a high school exchange student.
By demonstrating his passion for science and education, Samson Ndindiriyimana earned a scholarship to continue his studies in the United States. His sights are now set on creating education access for others.
Set goals to turn your dreams into reality, and then complete them one step at a time.
One of the joys of being a Humphrey Fellow, discovered Dr. Mona Al-Sawwaf, is having the support of people from around the world.
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.
After studying for a year in the U.S. on the A-SMYLE program, Senka Mekic who has cerebral palsy, talks about how her exchange experience impacted her.
As a leader in her field, South Africa's Dr. Magteld Smith braved the harsh winters of Minneapolis to advance in her professional development.
Ingrid Sala-Bars wanted to strengthen her academic research, and international exchange allowed her to do just that. Ingrid is from Spain, has a hearing loss and wears hearing aids.
Can you imagine a scholarship that focuses on networking and social justice issues? That was just one of the pleasant surprises that Sergio found on his Fulbright program at Boston University.
Embracing a new call to action, twenty-four South Sudanese women with disabilities are committed to accelerating progress on reproductive rights.
Community colleges can offer a path to independence for people with intellectual disabilities like Anna Ringstrom, who is entering her second year at the Graduate Transition Program (GTP) at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.
To increase opportunities for the blind community in Thailand, Surachart Ratchajanda, a.k.a. Chart, had to start with accessing opportunities for himself first.
Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program exchange alumni Abidin Karademir from Turkey shares his exchange experience and its impact. The YES program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
When Melissa Gulledge hosted a blind high school student on the U.S. Department of State sponsored Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) program, she learned it wasn't so different than hosting other students.
After being nominated by a teacher in Turkey, 15-year-old Pinar followed in the footsteps of other students with disabilities to fulfill her dream of studying in the U.S. She traded her home in the Mediterranean Sea city of Izmir for the southern hospitality of South Carolina.
"In the US, on the contrary, you should ask if you need help. In Turkey, you should ask if you don’t need help."
An excellent teacher, a leader in the Ugandan disability community and a woman who loves to sing, Flavia has come far since obtaining her Masters from the University of Texas at Austin.
It’s one thing to know you need support for anorexia - and another to ask for it.
USAID’s student exchange programs prepare students - like Natalia, from Ukraine - to be leaders in their country’s development. But they also bring benefits to American students, faculty and communities.
For 25 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made it possible for people with disabilities in the U.S. to go to school, work and virtually anyplace else. Follow one international student through his accessible U.S. campus and community.
As a disabled woman growing up in Vietnam, WILD alumna Luu Thi Anh Loan sought to expand opportunities for others like her.