Diversity and Identity Abroad
Study abroad can have a life-long impact on an individual. As with anything new, study abroad evokes a change in the way you see yourself, the world, and most importantly, your place in the world. Placing yourself in a different context from what is “normal” is an eye opening and enlightening experience.
In many situations, regardless of your gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability, you will find you need to adjust to accommodate your host culture. You can neither expect nor demand that others adjust to yours. This is true for all students and should be kept in the back of your mind when dealing with the challenges of study abroad.
Some Questions to Ask
The following questions will help those students with special concerns think about their upcoming experience. The questions were originally developed for minority and female students. However, all students should read them and consider the answers.
- What are the minority groups in your host country? Will you be a minority in that country?
- What are men’s, women’s and minorities’ roles (social, professional, religious, etc.) in your host country?
- Do men, women and minorities have equal opportunities and protection under law? Equal educational and professional opportunities?
- Do women and minorities serve in the military?
- Do women work outside the home?
- What type of leadership roles do women and minorities hold?
- How do men treat local women? How do they treat American women?
- How does the host country population view minorities within the country and elsewhere?
- Is there a women’s rights movement or a civil rights movement?
- Are there special concerns or issues that women and minorities should be aware of before they study abroad in this country?
- Where do women and minorities fall within the social hierarchy?
- What types of academic accommodations are typically provided at your host university or program center? Keeping in mind that they may have different ways of accommodating a disability?
- How does your host culture view disablities? Every country has a different perspective on disability and accommodation.
Questions from: The Center for Study Abroad, University of Rochester
Diversity and Inclusion at Skidmore College
Skidmore College is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive community in which members develop their abilities to live in a complex and interconnected world. Consistent with our educational mission, we recognize ourselves as a community that respects individual identities based on varying sociocultural characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, first language, religious and spiritual tradition, age, ability, socioeconomic status, and learning style. We strive to create a socially just world that honors the dignity and worth of each individual, and we seek to build a community centered on mutual respect and openness to ideas—one in which individuals value cultural and intellectual diversity and share the responsibility for creating a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment. We recognize that our community is most inclusive when all members participate to their full capacity in the spirited, and sometimes challenging, conversations that are at the center of the College’s educational mission.
Skidmore College cultivates an inclusive and supportive learning community and values the diverse learning styles of our students. We are committed to providing students with disabilities meaningful access to off campus study and strive to provide individualized accommodations necessary for students when possible. Students are strongly encouraged to contact an OCSE Program Manager and Skidmore’s Coordinator for Students with Disabilities as early as possible to discuss their needs for studying off campus.
If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need academic accommodation when studying off campus, you must formally request accommodation from Meg Hegener, Coordinator for Student Access Services, at Skidmore College and provide documentation which verifies the existence of a disability that supports your request. The application form and documentation requirements are also available online. For further information, stop by the office of Student Academic Services in Starbuck Center or call 518-580-8150.
Commonly requested academic accommodations include:
- Extended test time
- Test taking in a distraction reduced location
- Books in alternative format (electronic)
- Supplemental note taking
- Test reading
- Converted class and test materials (enlarged, audio-taped etc.)
If the student's documentation is conclusive, the Coordinator will work with the student to determine which accommodations requested are reasonable for the college setting and, in turn, off campus study. The Coordinator will prepare a Memo of Academic Accommodations, which identifies the student as disabled (but does not state the type of disability) and lists the accommodations s/he is entitled to receive for the semester. The student should share this Memo of Academic Accommodations with OCSE (for Skidmore programs) or directly with their program provider (for Non-Skidmore Approved Programs) when requesting accommodations for their off campus study. Some Non-Skidmore Approved Programs may request specific documentation of the disability in addition to Skidmore’s Memo of Academic Accommodations.
As it is on campus, the success of disabilities support abroad depends significantly on the student’s willingness and ability to seek the help he/she needs and to follow through with academic and other recommendations. Requests for accommodations and documentation of the disability should be provided to your off-campus study program as early as possible. Each situation will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and every effort will be made to work collaboratively with eligible students to facilitate an accommodation. However, please keep in mind that in-country conditions and resources do vary by site, and specific program locations have limited accessibility.
OCSE is committed to diversity and inclusion abroad. For that reason we are an active member of the Diversity Abroad Network. We highly recommend you spend time reading through the Diversity Abroad website. This is an incredible resource and offers advice for every student:
- Diversity & Inclusion Abroad
- Racial & Ethnic Minority Students Abroad
- Economically Disadvantaged Students
- Heritage Seekers
- Student with Disabilities Abroad
- Women Abroad
- Religious Diversity Abroad
- Sexual Orientation Abroad
Additional online resources for students with disablities: