With “The Year of Return,
Ghana 2019,” people of the African diaspora have
been focused on returning home to Africa. This
includes the victims of the Transatlantic
slave trade in America, those who have shifted
their attention to living outside the U.S.
Living in another country has its
benefits, and an option available to students
to experience life outside of these borders is
to travel in a study abroad or student
A number of programs offer high school students the
opportunity to study abroad or live with a
family in another country for a summer,
semester or year. Other programs allow college
and university students to travel abroad to
study, work or volunteer in a foreign country.
For example, the U.S.
Department of State and other agencies support study
and research abroad programs for K-12
students, college students, educators and
scholars and offers scholarships
and grants. And the Congressional
Black Caucus Foundation and the Embassy of Japan sponsor a
funded cultural immersion program in Tokyo.
What are the benefits of studying abroad?
The reasons for doing this are many.
In a global interdependent economy,
foreign experience makes you more marketable
and opens the door to new career options.
Future leaders must be prepared to work in a
highly complex environment with people from
different cultures and backgrounds.
Being able to change the world or
improve the world means having exposure to
that world and being able to operate within it
Traveling, studying and living in another
country may force you to view reality in a
completely different way, and that is a good
thing. Observing firsthand other ways of
approaching life boosts your creativity,
improves your skillset and allows you to
function in highly complex, more complicated
and even unexpected situations. Being thrust
in an unfamiliar space with people who speak
another language or were raised in a different
culture with alternate assumptions can be a
transformative experience-- with potential
benefits you may not even anticipate.
Removing ourselves from America—with its
social and emotional baggage, and 400 years of
Black trauma under slavery, segregation and
systemic racism—can be a liberating journey.
Black people have the chance to invigorate
their spirit and boost their creativity and
sense of purpose when they get up and leave.
X and the impact of his visits to
Africa and to Mecca, or W.E.
B. DuBois, the pan-African scholar and leader who
moved to Ghana to spend the remainder of his
life. And Black artists, musicians, writers
and intellectuals such as Josephine
Baker, James Baldwin, Paul
Robeson and Richard
Wright lived in Europe and made a lasting
When someone tells you America is the
greatest country on Earth, it is possible they
never traveled out of their own neighborhood.
Don’t take their word for it. See the world
and see it all for yourself. We don’t have to
be limited to the confines of America or
defined by America. Now is the time to expand
our horizon and worldview.