Duke Immerse believes that off-campus experiential learning, domestically and internationally, should be accessible to everyone. We are committed to nurturing a richly diverse student cohort and study away community where all members feel empowered, heard, respected and supported.
Some of the rewards and challenges of experiential education may be directly related to your racial and/or ethnic identity. Your race, ethnicity, and/or nationality will be interpreted differently depending on your location, and you may bring perspectives that might not have been previously considered. Your experience will differ based on your own race/ethnicity, how that intersects with other identities you may hold, and how these relate to your host country’s history and demographics. You may become part of a racial or ethnic majority/minority for the first time in your life. All of these factors will impact how you experience your own race and ethnicity while studying away, and each situation comes with a unique set of challenges, which can be daunting to face without your usual support network in place. Know that you are not alone on your study away program even if you feel isolated while on your program due to your race, ethnicity, or nationality. You have the support of Duke Immerse, as well as your program faculty.
Similar to GEO alumni, Duke Immerse alumni report having varying experiences related to race and ethnicity on their programs. Some students who travel for their Immerse study internationally felt exhilarated to experience a different U.S. context or, when traveling internationally, to have an experience very different than the context of U.S. race relations. Students often experience different degrees of curiosity about their ethnicity from the host culture. Some students have encountered both familiar and new types of ostracism and prejudice during the travel portion of programs, and thus had to learn new coping strategies.
White students should be cognizant about how white privilege shapes their experience abroad. Given the violence and complexity of colonial history, students should be particularly mindful of ‘white savior’ complex and acknowledge the role white privilege may play in the local context. White students should also consider ways in which they can use their privilege to be an ally and advocate on behalf of those who do not have the same privilege. See the resources section below for more information on white allyship in the context of travel and study away.
It is important to educate yourself about conditions in your host community, and to prepare yourself accordingly. We recommend talking with others who have been on the same program and who may be able to offer advice. Reach out to your Immerse faculty as well.
If you experience discrimination/bias while on a Duke Immerse program, this is not something that you have to bear alone. Please consider the following action steps:
Know that you are not alone on the travel portion of your Immerse program. If you find yourself feeling isolated due to your sexuality or gender expression, know that you have the support of Duke Immerse, DukeReach, CAPS, and Blue Devils United.
Research how your race/ethnicity is perceived in your host location, including the historical context of immigration, race relations, etc. Learn how you may be treated or viewed in your host location.
Student Resources, Experiences, and Perspectives from Studying Abroad
African-American, African, Black and Caribbean Students
Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander Students
Indigenous and Native American Students
Middle Eastern Students
Some resources compiled from: https://globallearning.ucsc.edu/get-started/diversity/race-ethnicity.html