In an effort to make study abroad a more accessible part of every undergraduate’s academic experience, the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) invited student support offices and academic departments across all UC campuses to submit grant proposals that would support underrepresented student cohorts to study abroad and address the various barriers they face in this endeavor. In August of 2015, 10 grants in the amount of $5,000 each were awarded. Two of the proposals awarded came from UC Irvine: Advance Parole Partnership for Anteaters and Black Internationalists.
The Advance Parole Partnership for Anteaters, spearheaded by UC Irvine’s Dreamers Coordinator Ana M. Barragan, aims to assist undocumented students who wish to study abroad. In the recent past it was impossible for undocumented students to study abroad, but now they can if they complete certain administrative processes required by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (including applying for Advance Parole). However, due to fear, financial limitations, and the lack of formal information, many undocumented students do not even seek out study abroad opportunities. The Advance Parole Partnership for Anteaters is working to change this by establishing a collaborative partnership that includes information plus legal and financial support for undocumented students to study abroad. This partnership includes the UCI Study Abroad Center, the UCI School of Law, the Immigrant Rights Clinic, and the Law Firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.
One important aspect of this project is to provide scholarships that cover the administrative costs associated with completing the required governmental paperwork for up ten undocumented students to study abroad. We are pleased to see that already 11 undocumented students have initiated study abroad applications for 2016- 17! After this cohort of supported students successfully studies abroad, it is hoped that a snowball effect will result in which more undocumented students will feel confident about studying abroad in the future.
The Black Internationalists project, organized by a cross-campus team including Dr. Davin Phoenix and Dr. Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Associate Director of Study Abroad Marcella Khelif, and history graduate student Marketus Presswood, aims to support the enrollment and successful study abroad experience of African American and Black students. The grant applicants point out that according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), Black or African American students made up only 5% of study abroad participants during the 2012-13 academic year, making them vastly underrepresented in study abroad. Important obstacles include the five ‘F’ barriers to studying abroad—finance, family, friends, faculty (resistance), and fear. During this academic year the grant team has been offering a seminar series to build a cohort of Black and African American students who are prepared for a successful study abroad experience. The team provides faculty mentoring and support to break through these barriers, including workshops led by Black and African American students who have already studied abroad. An important component has been conveying to these students the history of African Americans involved in international endeavors to guide these students to see themselves as being part of this historical legacy. Seven to fifteen students have regularly attended the seminars.
The cross-campus collaboration initiated between study abroad offices and other units on campus through these grants is truly inspiring. Furthermore, by investing in diverse communities to study abroad UC campuses and UCEAP are truly fostering a culture in which study abroad is expected and achievable for all students while simultaneously creating a “pay it forward” community of student leaders who seek to give back the same support they received.