Diversity and Inclusion Abroad | Webster University

Diversity and Inclusion Abroad

LGBTQIA+ Students
Race and Ethnicity
Students with Disabilities

The Office of Study Abroad at Webster strives to make study abroad accessible to every student and is committed to providing resources and support throughout the process. Each study abroad participant has a unique way of interpreting and impacting the communities they travel to and live in. This page hopes to give voice to common questions, concerns and experiences of students from diverse backgrounds. The Office of Study Abroad is happy to help locate resources or connect students to study abroad alums of similar backgrounds. Please continue to check back, as more information and resources will be added to this page in the near future.

LGBTQIA+ Students

Studying abroad is an excellent way to learn about world cultures and can be an exciting journey of self-reflection and self-discovery. For students of LGBTQIA+ backgrounds, this process can pose opportunities as well as challenges. Various countries around the world have different perspectives on the LGBTQIA+ community. In some study abroad locations, students will find that expression of sexual orientation or gender identity will be more open than in their home country or Webster campus. However, in others, having a gender identity or sexual orientation that conflicts with social expectations may not be as accepted. In order to maximize your experience abroad, you should research and get to know your host country before departure. The resources below are designed to help in that process.

As you start your preparation for study abroad, it is important to consider key questions regarding differences you may experience based on cultural values, social customs and laws in your country/s of interest. Some questions to reflect on as your research programs include:

  • What are the attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community in my host country of interest?
  • Does your right to be LGBTQIA+ conflict with your host country's religious or cultural values and traditions?
  • What is the social perception of LGBTQIA+ people in my host country?
  • What roles do transgender people play in the host culture?
  • Do the laws of the location differ from those of my home country?
  • What resources are available to those in the LGBTQIA+ community in my destination/s of interest, such as friendly establishments, newspapers, or on-line resources?

Additional Resources

Diversity Abroad- LGBTQ+ Students Abroad
Is an organization that provides a range of resources on diversity abroad, including resources for the LGBTQIA community.

Is a gay-owned charitable travel and culture website focused on les-bi-gay-trans life in countries around the world.

ILGA Europe
Is a driving force for political, legal and social change in Europe and Central Asia. Their vision is of a world where human rights are protected and ensured to everyone regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. The web site has a range of resources including benchmarking reports, newsletters, videos, etc.

ILGA World State-Sponsored Homophobia Report
Has a survey of sexual orientation laws worldwide.

International Lesbian and Gay Association
Includes interactive country by country climate information. Connects and educates LGBT travelers and the businesses that welcome and support them along the way.

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association-
Is an excellent tool for researching laws related to sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. You can search by issue area, country, or region.

LGBTI Travelers- U.S. Department of State
U.S. Government's resource guide for travelers who identify as LGBTQ.

NAFSA Rainbow Sig- Resources for LGBTQ+ Study Abroad Students
Includes general considerations, country-specific information, and alumni reports for LGBTIQ students who are planning to study abroad.

National Center for Transgender Equality
Offers air travel tips for transgender people.

Trans Respect versus Transphobia Worldwide
Posts country-specific guides detailing the human-rights situation of trans and gender-diverse people.

Utopia- Gay and Lesbian Resources in Asia
Has web resources and social media pages for Gay and Lesbian travelers in Asia.

Racial Identity and Ethnicity

According to the 2019 IIE Open Doors Report, the proportion of under-represented students studying abroad in the U.S. has increased over the past ten years and 30 percent of students who went abroad during 2018-2019 identified as U.S. racial minorities. Some common concerns held by racial minority students going abroad include perceptions of race in the host country, personal safety, and financial burdens, among others.

As you start your preparation for study abroad, it is important to consider important questions and reflect on differences you may experience. By starting these conversations early, you can develop a realistic understanding of your host country, and can reflect on how race or ethnicity may be experienced, viewed and understood differently abroad.

Some questions to ask yourself before going abroad might include:

  • What universal or local stereotypes exist that could affect how my ethnic group, race of other aspect of my identity may be perceived in my host country?
  • What are my preconceived notions about people in my host country? Are they valid?
  • How should I react if I find something to be offensive?
  • If someone asks something that I perceive as insensitive, does that mean they have bad intentions or are they just curious and inquiring in a way that may be ok in their culture?
  • What can I do to influence the way people of my ethnicity are perceived by my host country?
  • How will my being a member of a majority or a minority group in my home country influence my experience abroad?
  • Does my program have support staff who will understand and help me through any racial or discriminatory incident I may face?
  • Do I have any friends or peers at my school whom I can talk to about diversity abroad who also share my background and have already studied abroad?
  • Are there any students from my host campus on my campus whom I can talk to?

    Source: Diversity Abroad, Why You Should Go Abroad, Your Guide to Going Abroad

Additional Resources

All Abroad
Contains resources to help find funding opportunities, information about making study abroad support career development, reasons to study abroad, information to support diversity in study abroad, and information about discrimination abroad.

Diversity Abroad: Global Diversity and Inclusion
Offers destination-specific information, student advice and blogs, and information regarding financial and scholarships for diverse students.

IES Abroad: Race, Ethnicity and Nationality Resources
A non-profit study abroad organization that has compiled resources on race, ethnicity and nationality abroad.

Race Abroad for Americans of Color Preparing to Live Abroad (a Glimpse publication)
A publication that addresses common considerations for and concerns of US students of color studying abroad. It also contains short articles written by multicultural students who have studied abroad.

The Plato Project (Project for Learning Abroad, Training and Outreach)
Supporting Diversity in Study Abroad resource page. Has links to scholarships and articles for students who are under-represented in study abroad.

Webster's Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA)
Webster University's MCISA exists to provide programs and services to students and faculty; and to create a community environment that recognizes social differences, respects cultural uniqueness, and facilitates cross-cultural interaction, learning and appreciation.

Students with Disabilities

Webster University encourages all students to study abroad including those individuals who have disability or accessibility challenges. With the proper planning, study abroad can be a wonderful experience for students with disabilities. We encourage students to start a discussion with their study abroad advisor and their Academic ADA Coordinator in the Academic Resource Center (ARC) at Webster early in the study abroad planning process to assess needs and talk about setting up any on-site accommodations.

As you start to prepare for study abroad, some questions to consider include:

  • What study abroad program will best fit your academic needs?
  • Which program can provide accommodations for your disability?
  • What cultural differences exist that may create barriers to accessibility?

Students should examine their specific needs and adaptions to make sure the program of interest will be able to support them during each part of the program (arrival, orientation, campus life, classrooms, travel, and technology). Once students are abroad, they will need to be realistic about the challenges that may occur. For example, students who are usually very self-sufficient, may realize that they will need more assistance than normal. Students will need to be open, flexible, and be willing to work through any challenges experienced in their new cultural context. Countries outside of the US can sometimes have different laws, regulations and approaches to disability services so students should be aware of this and consider it in their study abroad planning.

It works best when students proactively reach out to the Academic ADA Coordinator to discuss their study abroad plans and request letters. This should ideally happen at least 1 month prior to departure if not earlier. The ARC will email the student's accommodation letter to the academic director of the program and will email a copy of the accommodation letter to the student for the student to take with them to their study abroad location. It is the student's responsibility to reach out the academic director and instructors at their program site to make sure the program site got the letter and to discuss their accommodation requirements.

Additional Resources

Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund (DREDF)
Provides resources on their International Disability Rights page about country-based laws that protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.

IES Abroad: Disability, Mental Health, & Self-Care Resources
Offers a range or disability and mental health resources geared towards study abroad students.

Mobility International USA
MIUSA, along with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, manages the National Clearinghouse of Disability and Exchange. MIUSA publishes books and other resources, many of which are free for you to download from its website.

Service Animals Abroad
Mobility International USA article with steps for bringing your service animal or guide dog abroad.

Transitions Abroad – Disability Travel Resources
Posts resources for those who want to live, work, or volunteer abroad, including those will be living abroad with disabilities.

U.S. Department of State- Students Abroad
Posts information for mobility-impaired travelers by country

Webster Academic Resource Center (ARC)
The ARC team members are available to provide academic counseling, academic integrity, ADA, and assistive technology services and support. They work with study abroad students on academic accommodations.

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