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Race and Ethnicity

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. 

Submit a Concern

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: 

      • Contact your on-site program faculty/support staff 
      • Report via Duke Office of Institutional Equity (anonymous option available) 
      • Submit your concern to Duke Immerse staff (not anonymous) 

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 ImmerseDukeReach, 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. 

      • Reflect on your own identity. What are the ethnic, racial, religious, and gender identities that characterize you? 
      • Create a local support network to discuss your experiences. Also, think about whom you might talk to back home to help process your experiences. 
      • Keep an open mind and learn to distinguish between curiosity stemming from ignorance and outright racism or discrimination. 
      • If someone you know (local friend, host family member, professor, etc.) calls you by a name you are uncomfortable with, politely ask them to stop. If the behavior continues, notify your on-site Duke Immerse instructor or support staff. 
      • Review the resources below, and if you need help researching a particular topic, or if you have concerns, talk to your Immerse instructor or Duke Immerse Director. 


Student Resources, Experiences, and Perspectives from Studying Abroad 

General Resources 

Diversity Abroad 

Unpacked, A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me 

Engaging in Challenging Conversations Abroad 

U.S. State Department Country Information Pages 

 African-American, African, Black and Caribbean Students 

Are There Any Similarities in the Black Experience Abroad? 

Black, Gay, and First Time Abroad 

Advice to My Curlfriends: Everything You Need to Know About Hair Care Abroad 

Does the Term African American Only Exist in the United States? 

How I Expanded My Cultural Competency As A STEM Major in Cyprus 

Experiencing Japan as a Black Woman 

Navigating Spain as a Black Person 

Being Black in Costa Rica 

Trips for Traveling China as a Black person 

Tips & Advice from a Journalism Major in Seville, Spain 

Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander Students 

An Asian-American in France 

Asian in America, American in Asia 

Finding Identity as an Indian Heritage Student 

Some Tips for Students of Minority Populations Studying Abroad in Spain 

Giving New Experiences a Chance 

Indigenous and Native American Students 

10 Reasons for Native-American Students to Study Abroad 

What about Discrimination? 


Latinx Students 

Traveling While Latino 

Being Chicana in Europe 

Finding Community in Buenos Aires 

Exploring My Mexican Identity in México 

Going Abroad After Gaining Independence in College 

Mexican to Chilean: A Chicano Identity Transformation 

How Language Study Led Me to Tunisia 

Middle Eastern Students 

What Remains: Discovering Traces of Jewish Life in Morocco 

Being Jewish Abroad: Passover in Santiago 

Thrilling Travels in Rabat, Morocco 

Feeling at Home in Germany: A Jewish Edition 

Traveling While Muslim: Why More Muslims Need to Travel 

White Allyship 

How to Be an Ally at Home and Abroad 

14 Ways Privileged Allies Can Support Marginalized Communities 

Guidelines for Being Strong White Allies 

Some resources compiled from: