Educators seek out more minorities to study abroad

Associated Press | 3/1/2011, 7:10 p.m.

Minnie Battle Mayes, director of AandT’s international programs office, said it can be hard to get students who are from small towns, and without any worldly frame of reference, to look beyond the campus.

“Many times our students are North Carolinians, and coming to Greensboro is coming to the big city,” Mayes said. “In this 21st century, you’ve got to be global.”

Among the efforts at AandT is a new annual $10 student fee to create an international education fund that offsets study abroad expenses. Mayes hopes it will help alleviate financial anxieties — sometimes unfounded — that can deter students from applying.

At Temple, about 9 percent of students in the study-abroad program are black, more than double the national average. About 11 percent are Asian, also above average, while the 5 percent Hispanic involvement is slightly below the norm.

Though the university has a diverse student body to begin with — about one-third minority — Temple also starts “sending the message very, very early” that foreign study is essential, said Denise Connerty, assistant vice president for international affairs.

“There’s some perception still that study abroad is a luxury, not integral to the academic experience,” said Connerty. “It’s not an extra. It shouldn’t be.”

Promotion is ubiquitous, from open houses for prospective students through freshman orientation and beyond. University President Ann Weaver Hart pays the processing fees for students getting their first passports.

For Adeyina, a 21-year-old from New Jersey, the key was early academic advising that showed she could graduate on time if she went abroad as a sophomore. If she went junior year, she’d miss too many required classes in her graphic design major.

Now a vocal advocate for study abroad, Adeyina described her time in Rome as a challenge she met and embraced. She already feels it influencing in her art.

“The experience of a lifetime, definitely,” Adeyina said.

Associated Press